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Cowboys & Aliens (2011 film)

A Fantasy Western film directed by Jon Favreau.

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Cowboy and Aliens

  • Aug 3, 2011
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Walking into this movie you know what you are going to be getting, and if you don't it may be time to stop reading this blog. Jon Favreau promised his audience both cowboys and aliens and by god that is what you get, just not much else.

Favreau could have taken this movie in a couple different directions, he chose to take the mixing of two genres that have been lampooned in more recent history and decided to make it a serious action movie. Then there was the decision of which genre to focus on, and as the title denotes he gives the Western top billing over Sci-Fi and follows the traditional Western format. We get almost all the archetypes of the Western from the mysterious stranger who rolls into town to face offs against thieves and injuns. The only difference being the alien abductions, but even these aliens are using lassos and looking for gold.

Favreau has experience working with comic books and knows what he needs to tell a good story. I never read the comics but in Cowboys and Aliens he provides very little depth to the story and focuses on hitting all the right beats. Much like Westerns of the past there is very little downtime for our characters, as soon as one problem is faced the next obstacle presents itself in the very next shot. It felt almost overwhelming trying to squeeze everything in. And while there were plenty of beautiful landscapes to film as they rode across the Arizona territory we learn very little about our characters as there is no time to explain let alone time for exposition of Harrison Ford's character.

There are a lot of cooks in this kitchen with big names like Spielberg, Grazer and Howard just three of the 16 producers on staff and a story written by eight different people. Yet they still follow the same formula of Western story telling. The aliens more or less just seem to be a replacement for Indians just harder to kill and cooler looking. The genre rules don't really seem to meld together until the aliens start appearing more often on screen.

Our movie opens on Daniel Craig, our mysterious outsider, we know little about him and he probably knows less about himself. From the outset we learn he has little to say and can handle himself in a fight as you would expect from any cowboy sporting a white shirt. I couldn't decide if Daniel Craig wasn't talking because he was going for a Steve McQueen cool of letting his actions do the talking or if he felt he didn't readily master the Western accent. Whatever the reason, it adds to the mysterious persona of our hero who does a fine job displaying gritty toughness.

Second billing goes to Harrison Ford who has been trying out the tough guy with the heart of gold act for a little while. Here he plays the hardened army officer turned cattle herder who seems to control the town with an iron fist as he is the only source of income. He is fine in a fairly underdeveloped role always with a little scowl on his face; I saw this character in his last few movies and am still left feeling he could be doing more. He never shows his charisma till the end of the movie playing this type of character and you can't help but feel you are missing out.

Our other actors do their job just find, and are in fact quite good performing their one note. The actors of note are Olivia Wilde who seems to be the babe of choice in movies coming out and Clancy Brown who does a great job in a small role as the preacher. Less impressive is the child actor and Adam Beach reprising his only role as Indian guide, but I suppose it’s not a bad job to have being Hollywood's go to Native American. Sam Rockwell does fine, but unfortunately doesn't have a whole lot to do with other bigger names above him on the marquee.

The premise had all the potential in the world with a cool idea and a lot of great talent behind the project. With such a blunt title and coming from a graphic novel you expect something cool and fun to watch. Instead the creative team took a hard-line on the rules and execution. Everyone took themselves far too seriously and it showed, mostly on our lead actors’ faces. C+

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August 17, 2011
Yeah, Cowboys and Indians and Aliens was too long a title. I wonder what Harrison Ford got paid for it. An Indiana Jones movie would have been more fun even though I have seen them before.
More Cowboys & Aliens (2011 film) reviews
review by . July 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
An Uneven
An alien invasion happening during the late 1800’s when mankind had barely gotten in touch with their potentials for technology is an interesting premise. I mean it represented a classic “David vs. Goliath” theme as well as having a huge amount of potential to work on. Granted I wasn’t that impressed with Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s “Cowboys and Aliens” (see review of the graphic novel here) but I thought it may make a good translation into film; seeing as …
review by . July 31, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Screenwriters and Editing
Heres the two things I thought of as I watched this movie:      1.  The idea of gold hungry aliens has come a long way since Battlefield Earth and      2.  I can only imagine that when Harrison Ford signed on, the script was re-written to have him rescue his family.         oh, I guess a third would be that this is filling the void for Favereau instead of getting an Iron Man 3 from him.  I guess it could have been …
review by . August 02, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I walked out of C&A today shrugging my shoulders.  It was a pleasant enough way to spend two hours on a hot summer night.  Daniel Craig (who looks like Harrison Ford used to look 30 years ago) and Harrison Ford (who looks remarkably like Neil Young today) play to type and off of each other well, and the setup is classic cowboy movie--so classic that when Craig, Ford, and the townspeople, native Americans, and Craig's old outlaw gang encounter the aliens (who lasso human subjects …
review by . July 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'Cowboys & Aliens' 'Two Jews On Film' Fly In Different Directions With This SciFi Western (Video)
      The year is 1873. The place...New Mexico...A man (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of nowhere.  He has no idea who he is or where he is.  All he knows is...there's a thick metal bracelet on his wrist and he can't remove it.       After fighting off some would-be robbers with a few swift kicks and punches, the Man wanders into the town of Absolution where he finds...   …
review by . July 28, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Incredible concept! Incredible movie?
COWBOYS AND ALIENS   Written by Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Otsby   Directed by Jon Favreau   Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde       Jake Lonergan: I don’t want any trouble.       Aliens have tried to take over our planet dozens of times in the movies already. Every time they do, it seems like they always choose major metropolitan areas and the setting is …
review by . August 02, 2011
Picture this… James Bonds wakes up in the Wild West unable to recall how he got there and then ends up in a town were Indiana Jones and his son have been terrorizing its citizens into doing anything they want…  Wait, that’s not right.  Granted Cowboys & Aliens does star Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, as well as share executive producer Steven Spielberg (Indy franchise), there is little else these heavy hitters bring to this futuristic/sci-fi western.  If only …
Quick Tip by . December 22, 2011
A genre blend that starts off strong despite the adherence to a multitude of western cliches, it all falls flat in the second act with the introduction of a lazy plot twist created for no other reason than to save the screenwriters the trouble of advancing the story through dialogue and character development, and give them an easy out for a typically lame Hollywood Happy Ending.
review by . August 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
I’m generally a big fan of westerns, and I’ve been known to dabble in the science fiction genre from time to time. So on paper, Jon Favreau’s latest Cowboys and Aliens is a perfect fit. While I can definitely come to appreciate the general ridiculousness of it all and end up having a blast with it as the fun late summer film it is, the abundance of hands tweaking the script turns out being one of the movie’s biggest struggles. It’s not the best execution of a solid …
review by . August 08, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
No matter how you slice it, 2011 has not been a very fun-filled summer.  Most of the movies have either been very forgettable or they haven't really had much of an impact.  Cowboys and Aliens doesn't do much to change most of this.  It's certainly a lot more fun than most of the movies around this summer, but it doesn't quite leave the lasting impression you'd hope for it to.      We all understand that not every movie has to be this artistic …
review by . July 30, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         My concern was that the science fiction and western elements of Cowboys & Aliens would not be able to meet halfway. Can you blame me? On paper, I cannot think of a more awkward pairing of genres. I envisioned a disaster along the lines of The Warrior’s Way (which fused the western with martial arts), or going back much further, Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (the western and horror, which I happened to catch one Saturday …
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About this movie


Cowboys & Aliens is an American fantasy- Western film starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde. The film, directed by Jon Favreau, is based on the 2006 graphic novel of the same name created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Cowboys & Aliens was released in the United States and Canada on July 29, 2011 and in other countries on ensuing weekends.

1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear.

But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.

Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella, he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents—townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and ...
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Director: Jon Favreau
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller, Western
Release Date: July 29, 2011
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Runtime: 118 minutes
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