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 the film lived up to the overall awesomeness that the trailers teased.
Let’s look at the possibilities from a realistic point of view. 1) Daniel Craig is a total bad ass and could totally whip any aliens ass. 2) Indiana Jones was amazing when we were able to understand him (if you see Cowboys & Aliens you will understand the issue). 3) Cowboys verses Aliens is an amazing concept that has not really been done before. 4) Spielberg rarely has a bad film (this does not include the 4th Indy, which I’ll never speak of again). 5) The aliens’ aircrafts looked amazing and gave hope to some crazy looking villains. Now that that’s out of the way let’s get back to the review….
Cowboys & Aliens takes the concept of a western to heart as it moves as a leisurely pace that could only be compared to a John Wayne film that takes almost 3 hours to get through. Although there is more than enough time to deliver a story, there are so many missing pieces that you’re lucky if you can walk out of the theater with the slightest clue as to what just happened. Not only is the story missing a few crucial parts and lacking major character development, but by the end you’ll just wish that Doc Brown would suddenly fly in and urge Marty to travel back to the future just as the end credits roll. As cheesy as that sounds, it is probably the only thing that could have possibly redeemed the film from its current state.
Thankfully director Jon Favreau found a balance between story and action that kept the audience in their seats, it’s just too bad the combination was not better delivered. With top-notch actors, a hot actress with a tight toosh (who oddly enough we find out is not quite what we thought she was), and half-assed aliens who pack no punch (who strangely resembled the alien in Spielberg’s Super 8) it’s hard to believe more time had not been spent on fully developing this project. Having come from a graphic novel it should have been a piece of cake since the story was practically already fully laid out and storyboarded for them, but sadly the adaptation strays far enough away from the original concept that if you miss a few crucial lines explaining who/what the aliens are you might as well forget the story completely.
The only thing that makes up for the complete confusion of the story and whether or not this film was official left with an open ending to set up for a sequel, is the recent realization that a 90s TeenNICK show actually predicted the coming of Cowboys & Aliens. If you ever watched 'Clarissa Explains It All' you would have had your first introduction to something almost 20 years in the making. Now I think the only question left is… Would Cowboys & Aliens have made a better 90s film than the film we have today?
That being said Cowboys & Aliens is a decent film that will at least kill 2 hours if you have nothing better to do. I personally would have preferred seeing The Smurfs, which actually gave the gunslingers a run for their money this weekend and almost beat them out (if only). But if you are looking for a little more action and have already seen Captain America, I guess this might hold you over, but you just might be better off waiting for it to come out on DVD.
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.
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 ...