I have to admit that when I first heard of Cowboys and Aliens I thought it was a genius combination. I was completely sold after viewing the trailer many months ago however it was so overplayed I think I was bored of the concept before I even got to see the film.
PLOT: Jake (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the Old West with an alien bracelet on his arm and thereafter gets arrested for crimes most of which he actually did commit. Aliens attack and snatch the people of Old Town USA and Jake reluctantly teams up with Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell and Olivia Wilde to get the townsfolk back. Nothing of interest happens. Walton Goggins appears and the film picks up. Ella (Wilde) dies and I think that’s a brave and unusual move. Ella resurrects herself and I think that’s a stupid and ridiculous move. Nothing of interest happens. Jake drinks Apache juice and hallucinates hummingbirds. The aliens look crap. Harrison Ford looks grumpy. Walton Goggins reappears and the film picks up again. The Cowboys win but the biggest loser is me. END PLOT
The notion of Cowboys and Aliens should have produced the perfect summer blockbuster. It was never going to be a serious film but it had the potential, especially in Jon Favreau’s hands, to be a fun watch.
It took no less than seven people to write this absolutely shocking script. I had no problem buying into the initial concept but the story did not hook me in. I was impressed that the love interest had been killed off because it would have been the most unexpected death of the summer. I thought throwing her dead lifeless body on the camp fire was a dark move but then she resurrected herself and it transpires that Ella is an Apache speaking peaceful alien from a recently invaded planet.
If Ella and her species special alien power was the power of resurrection and healing how the hell did they all die? Hardly a major plot hole but this part of the film pissed me off.
The bracelet weapon annoyed me too – did the aliens only bring one? If all aliens accessorised in this manner then why didn’t they use theirs in battle instead of scratching people to death?
Aliens, with their vast intellect and machinery, land on earth and destroy its people in an unexplained hunt for gold? You know you are scraping the bottle of the ideas barrel when you are ripping off fucking Battlefield Earth.
I hated everything about the plot but one must remember that Cowboys and Aliens is a summer film and this is the time to look past all that and embrace the fun.
Daniel Craig plays Jake with no charisma whatsoever and is taking proceedings far to seriously although in his defence he isn’t required to do much but unbutton his shirt and stare menacingly at each member of the cast on various occasions.
I always feel sad when I see Harrison Ford these days and here he grumps his way through the film in what has become his usual manner. It’s as though Indiana Jones got divorced, discovered whiskey, has prostate problems and is slowly dying of perpetual boredom.
Sam Rockwell is usually pretty reliable but in Cowboys and Aliens he doesn’t get enough screen time and is almost to restrained with the same being said by the ever impressive Walton Goggins.
There was no particular weak link in the cast but there were no interesting characters either.
The Old West looked fantastic as did the wide open landscapes we got the pleasure of seeing whilst Jake et al were hunting down the aliens. This is the part of the film I liked the most and it makes me want a Red Dead Redemption film even more! The cowboy set should be recycled to make this film.
The aliens however looked shite and at their introduction they reminded me of a really juicy Imhotep. They had no personality or emotion and were nothing more than generic video game cut-outs.
The futuristic flashbacks and the weird “aliens-eye-view” shots we were treated to just looked out of place with the rustic and natural cowboy setting. I didn’t think the genres mixed well in this regard.
On paper the idea of Cowboys and Aliens is as brilliant as it is ridiculous but the final product is just an awful film. It doesn’t even come close to guilty pleasure territory nor is it campy fun. It is just bad. It gets a 3/10 and that is mostly for the few cast members that I liked and the look of the Old West.
If they ever announce Cowboys vs Pirates vs Ninjas (an idea which I have given more thought to than I ought to) I will be a bit more wary.