Cowboys & Aliens

If you like westerns and you like sci-fi then trust me, you’ll like Cowboys & Aliens. It really is that simple. This movie is a strange hybrid that somehow works, mostly due to its stars (Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford) and its director, Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Elf) who knows how to make a crowd-pleaser. The best way to describe it is True Grit meets Independence Day. Chew on that for a while.

The less you try and learn about the movie going in, the more you’ll enjoy the ride. So I’ll keep the strokes broad enough not to ruin the plot. Cowboys & Aliens starts out like a fairly classic western, with Craig’s character waking up in Arizona Territory in 1873, unsure of who he is or how he got there. He’s got a bloody wound on his abdomen and a mysterious shackle on his wrist, indicating perhaps he is an escaped convict. He’s also a mighty fine gunslinger.

The guy stumbles into the town of Absolution, which is basically “owned” by a hard-ass named Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). The two butt heads, but ultimately must come together – along with other townsfolk, a token boy, a token dog, a token woman (Olivia Wilde), and even some Indians – to fight a common enemy that threatens to wipe them out. That enemy would be the aliens – monster-like creatures that come out of nowhere to snatch people up with their fleet of spaceships.

Cowboys & Aliens is a PG-13 action thriller with just enough humor, heart and self-deprecation peppered throughout to tame the intensity of the fight scenes. The script was written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek) and Damon Lindelof (Lost), based on a graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. So there’s a definite Trek/Lost vibe goin’ on. The characters are just quirky enough to keep you guessing, and the story is just bizarre enough to hold your interest, even as you think, ‘where is this going?’

So, how do you get someone (like me) who balks at the idea of seeing an alien movie set in the old west to join you for this one? Here’s the pitch: for chicks, there’s the appeal of the naturally-suave Craig, who fills out his cowboy duds quite nicely, thank you very much (though regrettably only goes shirtless once or twice); Ford is fun for the nostalgia factor (there’s a bit of the ol’ Indiana Jones buried in there somewhere); and Wilde (a.k.a. “13” on House) delivers some (cow)girl power along with the eye candy.

What can I say? I was pleasantly surprised.

1 Comments

  1. Ilene, July 31, 2011:

    I agree. The only way to explain this movie is that it’s really about cowboys and aliens. But it’s also a good mindless action flix that held my interest to the end.

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