Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cowboys and Aliens

Likely all of us saw the television spots for this during its opening, and back when it was in theaters, I even read a review or two. Now on DVD, never in a million years did I imagine myself watching this unusual movie but that is exactly what I found myself doing on a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Waking in the middle of the desert without a clue who he is or who he is – or how he got the wound in his side and an odd metallic bracelet that won’t come off prompts Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) to discover his past. Riding to the nearest dusty town, he is stitched up by the local preacher and in a matter of mere hours attracts the interest of the locals after standing up to the wimpy, arrogant son (Paul Dano) of the man who owns and employs much of the town. As a result of this, his face is soon recognized by the Sheriff (Keith Carradine) who identifies him as a wanted man.

Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) is a Colonel from the war whose experience in battle has made him hardened man who expects nothing but loyalty from his men, and those who cross him aren’t given opportunity to do so again. When he gets word that his son is about to be handed over to marshals and that Jake is in town, he sees his chance to get back the gold that was stolen from him. Before anything can be settled, the town is attacked by flying machines that have the people running scared for their very lives. During the attack, the contraption on Jake’s arm comes to life and is used as a weapon against the machines but the creatures get several of the residents – including Woodrow’s only son.

Ella (Olivia Wilde) is a woman who is certain that Jake will remember everything. A bit of a spit-fire who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, she wants Jake to help her find where they base their operations – and Jake may not be the only one who is repressing secrets. Woodrow all but demands Jake’s presence and assistance on their search party knowing there is no earthly way they will defeat the monsters save for the weapon Jake possesses.

Sci-Fi is not my scene but I do like superhero movies. Someone loaned this to my dad and instead of choosing not to watch the film, I sat down with dad, and went into this one with a wide open mind having seen the trailers for it and recognizing it as a blockbuster from the summertime season. That being said… much to my own amusement, I actually enjoyed this one. It has a different twist to it by pairing cowboys with aliens (although Indians do make the appropriate appearance) and its acting isn’t half bad either. Some of the plots get are over-used and get caught up in redundancy but that is really expected in nearly all of Hollywood films today – so much so that moviegoers most obviously forgive writers because we still go to the theater, right?! It was more fun than it should have been not knowing for sure whether or not the hero was one to root for or wish ill towards because normally the hero is – and the audience wants him to be above reproach. That isn’t how it plays out here.

Cowboys and Aliens
With the tagline “from the director of Iron Man,” everything about Jon Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens seemed to proclaim he'd have another number one box office hit to include on his résumé. Nominated for various different awards, I was somewhat surprised that the special effects were sometimes not up to par. The aliens are definitely creepy looking (case in point: their chest opens to reveal organs and a pair of hands emerge, eww), but I think any time productions blend supernatural and live-action, it's a challenge to make everything come across as “real.”

Perhaps what I liked best about the movie is its emphasis on trust and the relationships that come out of that. It is true that this band of characters was forged more out of necessity than a trusting nature but it becomes so much more than need, and forms into a “no man left behind” kind of friendship. The scope of the movie lends itself to not be taken seriously because of the subject matter but I enjoyed the movie tremendously. It is the very definition of “popcorn flick” and as such, viewers should let this entertain as that. Cowboys and Aliens may not be one I’ll be likely to buy, but for a winter afternoon, it doesn’t get much more fun that this trip to the Wild West. 

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CONTENT: there is some violence and the sometimes “scary” aliens who do terrify several people [they fasten them to a table and kill them] and attack the search party once and then there is an epic battle that climaxes in the final ten minutes when several people are killed – the aliens bite into the flesh in their victim’s neck. Characters shoot their attackers [some right between the eyes causing green goop to spurt from them]. Men are impaled with stakes and Jake uses his weapon to burn a hole through a man’s middle. Another character dies, the body burned and then the person walks out alive from the flames [obscurely, we see the person naked before quickly being covered]. Fist fights break out a time or two. Some profanity is used [sh*t and a couple of crudities]; one man repeatedly calls a woman a whore. The film is rated PG13.



  1. I love this movie! Totally didn't expect to, but the quirky mash-up won me over. :)

  2. I have been wanting to see this...partly because of Harrison Ford but also because of the cowboys :) And the had horses right? Thanks for the review...maybe I can see this one soon :) Sierra
    Keep Growing Beautiful♥ (Cause You Are!)

  3. oh, brother. my dad wants to see this. my brothers love aliens and he looooves cowboys/western stuff, so we'll likely be renting it soon. thanks for the review!


  4. I've been meaning to check this one out but something always stops me. I'm glad you dug it.

  5. I watched this the other night and for me it was kinda "meh." But I'm glad you enjoyed it. Maybe you'll slowly move into watching more sci-fi and that's never a bad thing. ;)

  6. Ruth - me, either. I most definitely didn't expect to enjoy it much at all. Imagine my surprise when I did. ;D

    Sierra - I wasn't expecting to see this one, but someone loaned it to my dad, and so, I gave it a shot and wound up enjoying it a lot. It isn't the "best" movie but it's entertaining.

    And, yes, there are plenty of horses. =)

    Jessica - I think your dad and brothers would enjoy this one; especially if they like sci-fi, if not they might not much care for it. Enjoy if you see it, and you are welcome. =)

    Juju - on a lazy afternoon, entertainmenet doesn't come much better than this one! I really enjoyed it for its creativity but am not likely to buy it - although I wouldn't say that I never want to see it again. =)

    Enjoy this one if/when you see it.

    Charity - oh! I am sorry you felt so-so about this one. I was going to ask you what you thought of it, but your comment beat me to it. =D

    I just saw another sci-fi movie called In Time. It isn't nearly as prevalent as this one was, but it kind of has that vibe going for it. Anyway, it was really entertaining and a review is on the schedule for tomorrow.

  7. The fact that I'm not a fan of anyone in the cast for this film probably didn't help it much -- I've never liked Daniel Craig or Harrison Ford.

    Excuse me, I now must go and hide from all the rabid Harrison Ford fans. ;)

  8. Not a fan of the cast in this one either, but it was entertaining if nothing else. =)

    I hope you "got away" from those fans. ;D


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