Cowboys and Aliens

Posted: August 8, 2011 by Micah in Movie Reviews

Micah Reviews: Cowboys and Aliens. 

When I was but a child wandering oe’r the fields of Vermont in my bare feet, I had one enduring goal in life: to be a cowboy. Or a baseball player. Or a pilot. Or Wolverine. The point is that I wanted to be a cowboy at some point all right?

This was in no small part because I watched a lot of John Wayne movies. He’s one of the proud members of “The Top 3 Men My Mom Has An Enduring Crush On”. That list going:

1. My dad (cue: “aww…”)

2. John Wayne

3. Sean Connery

It’s worth mentioning here that number four on that list is probably Harrison Ford but I couldn’t come up with a good number five and you can’t make a “Top 4” list. Like literally it’s against the law. People who do that… they get jacked up, man. Jacked. Up.

Anyway, at some point after I moved to Guam someone decided that I should watch ET. And they were wrong. I mean, holy crow that movie was horrifying. I know, I know ET was just misunderstood, and all he wanted to do was point at things, and make collect calls or something but that alien creeped me OUT! I mean he ate all the Reese’s Pieces! Who does that?

All that to say that the idea for the movie Cowboys and Aliens made complete sense to me. I like cowboys. Aliens eat my candy. ‘Nuff said.

The Plot:
A man (played by Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of the New Mexico desert. He has no memory of how he got there and nothing with him but a picture of a mysterious woman, the clothes on his back, and a weird silver bracelet looking thing attached to his arm. The man makes his way (rather violently) to the town of Absolution! Then punches some people, shoots some things, and finds out that he’s wanted by the police… I mean “the Law”. But lo and behold as he’s headed off to jail… I mean “the lockup” several space ships… I mean “space ships” come swooping in out of nowhere and start blowing stuff up, kidnaping people, and ignoring posted traffic signs.

But what’s this? Our hero (whose name is Jake by the way) has discovered that his silver bracelet is in fact a silver alien blaster gun and thus our adventure begins. For the aforementioned adventure, Jake teams up with the local land baron um… cow barren? Anyway he’s played by Harrison Ford and he owns cows.

So Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and a  small group of cowboys all head off to chase down the aliens and save their kidnaped townspeople. Also, some cowgirl rides with them. Is cowgirl the wrong word? Cow… woman? Cowperson? Anyway…

The Negatives:
Cowboys and Aliens suffers from a lack of direction at times. Some scenes don’t really make sense in the overall context of the storyline and other things you feel like should be explained more aren’t given screen time. I realize part of this is because working with graphic novels can be incredibly tricky. You’ve got so much material to go through and so many things that all the fans of the novel want but might not fit into your overall story. While on the other hand you’ve got people who have no idea there was a graphic novel and just want to see a movie. This doesn’t let them off the hook, but I feel it does at least explain some of the weirdness.

Certain acting parts just never really felt like they fit. It wasn’t necessarily bad acting, but it just felt unpolished. Like they didn’t have time to do multiple takes so they just told people what they should be saying and then shot it.

The positrons:
Daniel Craig. The man was born to be a cowboy. He doesn’t have a lot of lines but what he does say always counts and his ability to communicate non-verbally is awesome. In a movie where the acting wasn’t always up to scale, Craig constantly raises the bar and commits to every one of his lines and even every one of his facial expressions. This part could have very easily been dropped, but Craig absolutely nails it every time and without him this movie would NOT have worked.

Harrison Ford does well. It’s difficult to really say too much about the part cause frankly there wasn’t a lot of depth there. Mostly he just growls at people and talks about shooting things. He does it well, but there’s not a whole lot to it.

The atmosphere of this movie is incredibly interesting. In my Captain America review I mentioned that some of the scenes with the lasers and super bombers felt out of place in a 1940 time setting. You’d think a movie like Cowboys and Aliens would be rife with such things but honestly I never really got that feeling. Even the scenes where Daniel Craig is blasting away at aliens with a wrist mounted super gun, on board an alien spaceship still felt like part of the old west. Huge props for that go to director John Favreua who kept everything feeling like it belonged. The aliens and futuristic tech somehow seem to fit right in with the horses and six shooters.

In Conclusion:
Cowboys and Aliens is an incredibly interesting movie in a lot of ways. It has a great star, an interesting atmosphere, and some really good set pieces and climactic battles. That said, pacing issues haunt it’s every step and certain performances are (charitably put) unconvincing. On the whole though it’s still an interesting movie that will make you once more long for a cowboy hat and lasso!

I give it 3 roaming cow…persons out of 5.

On a horribly prideful note here’s what I wrote about Cowboys and Aliens in my Judging Covers post a little while ago:

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Top 5 Actors who should play Cowboys: Russell Crowe (watch 3:10 to Yuma), Daniel Craig, Mark Wahlberg, Harrison Ford, Robert Downey Jr. Purely looking at the cast list and seeing the word Cowboy next to the words “Daniel Craig” and “Harrison Ford” would be enough to make me watch this movie. I have read portions of the graphic novels it’s based on and was impressed on the whole, but good source material doesn’t always equal good movie (I’m looking at you Daredevil). That said the trailers seem to look promising enough and the source material certainly has all the parts necessary to make a good film.

On a totally unrelated note that last name on my 1-5 list came to me like a lightning strike from the heavens. How has no one put Downey Jr. in a cowboy movie yet? Anyone?
An excitement rating of 4 out of 5.
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In addition to being totally right about Daniel Craig playing an amazing cowboy you’ll note the Robert Downey Jr. comment (which is an idea I was blessed from the heavens with). Guess who I’ve since found out was originally pursued for the lead role in Cowboys and Aliens??? Yup, Robert Downey Jr. I am now more awesome. Thank you, and goodnight.

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  1. […] skip over Cowboys and Aliens cause I just reviewed it which leaves us […]

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