As soon as I heard the title of this production, my imagination raced with the possibilities and potential of how great a film with that name could be.
The reality, however, turned out to be a movie that was less thrilling to a lot of critics than the title’s greatness implied. When I revisited it again recently I saw a film that was composed of a lot of western tropes juxtapositioned with a lot of science fiction tropes, In fact, it was wall-to-wall tropes everywhere I looked This is not the first time I have seen a film that seemed as if it was patched together completely out of well-used tropes or cliches, and it doesn’t necessarily doom it to be a terrible film. After all, what are cliches? they are classic caricatures or situations that are well-worn for a reason, they are classic because they work, and it’s up to the writers, actors, and or director to make them feel fresh, and not used up and stale.
It is my contention that Cowboys & Aliens succeed in doing this. I found the film, for the most part, to be a pleasant ride that coasts along at a good pace on, what is admittedly, sometimes a bumpy ride. I’m not saying its perfect, but there are few genre films that are. I am saying, for the most part, this is an enjoyable entertaining film.
Cowboys & Aliens is a 2011 American science fiction/western film directed by Jon Favreau and starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Keith Carradine and more. The film is based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. The plot revolves around an amnesiac outlaw (Craig), a wealthy cattleman (Ford), and a mysterious traveler (Wilde) who must ally to save a group of townspeople abducted by aliens .
The film mostly succeeds in pulling off its goal of being an entertaining action packed adventure/mystery with some special memorable moments such as Craig’s ‘showdown’ with the alien air ship. In fact, Craig as the super macho amnesiac Jake Lonegran, is instrumental in making this film as enjoyable as it is, as well as Harrison Ford’s turn as the wealthy landowner that has been a staple of westerns pretty much since they began. Ford manages to make the well used role his own.
Olivia Wilde for her part fills the role of the mysterious, sexy, strong, and brave female/damsel in distress, who also has a secret that turns out to be the movie’s big plot twist.
The film also boasts other western tropes, (in for a penny, in for a pound seems to be the thinking here) and also includes the requisite pissed off Apache Native Americans, and even a Mexican bandit or two after all what’s a western without them?
Beyond that all the parts are in place and production quality is good across the board the aliens are suitably creepy and formidable and their technology is suitably futuristic, and alien with memorable takes on the ships they fly and the damage they inflict when they choose to use it. The special effects are above standard for this sort of film.
Cowboys & Aliens does a good job at bringing it source material to the screen, and even though it becomes apparent at times its based on a mediocre comic book that could have been better its still an enjoyable film. Maybe its time to watch it again.