Newly released Cowboys & Aliens may not be an Oscar contender, but it’s darn good fun and worth the price of a movie ticket … which, in the current movie climate, is saying something. Simple plot line: “A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys are all that stand in their way.”
Sounds like the cowboys might get their asses handed to them, you know? But as a friend of mine pointed out, “If James Bond and Indiana Jones can’t save the world, who can?”
I grew up watching Harrison Ford (and not because my friends thought my dad resembled the guy). I watched all the Indiana Jones movies, and embarrassingly, they may be the reason I minored in classical civilizations in college. I was among the many viewers who were thoroughly disturbed by the movie What Lies Beneath, when <spoiler spoiler SPOILER> Harrison Ford turned out to be a bad guy. That said he’s not exactly a good guy in Cowboys & Aliens—at least not at the beginning.At the beginning, we zoom in on Daniel Craig in the middle of what resembles Sedona, covered in dirt and blood. (The film was actually shot in New Mexico, by the way.) He doesn’t remember who he is, where he came from, or why he’s wearing a wacky metal bracelet. Despite his lack of memory, he sure can kick some cowboy butt, and I’ve been proven wrong: Daniel Craig (most famous as James Bond) should not always wear tuxedos—he should always wear leather chaps and cowboy hats.
From there, the stranger waltzes into town and causes a raucous, until alien spaceships show up and he uses his mysterious bracelet to blow ‘em away. So begins the battle of cowboys versus aliens.
Jon Favreau is the director. He did Iron Man. (Robert Downey Jr. was the original choice for Daniel Craig’s character, in fact.) So expect lots of fast-paced action scenes, explosions, and comic quips amidst the bloodshed—alien and human alike.The aliens themselves are reminiscent of the aliens in … well, Alien. They’re really cool and gross; you’re gonna love them. There are good creep-out moments that had me jumping and enough shallow character development to keep you rooting for the good guys.
Harrison Ford is his charismatic, comic self. The man’s still got it, despite being sixty-nine years old. Daniel Craig is hotter than the desert heat, as is Olivia Wilde, for you Y-chromosomes out there. There are plenty of other interesting cameos. No name stars, but people who’ll make you say, “I know that guy.” And you’ll like him, because there’s plenty to like about this movie.
As I mentioned, it’s not going to win any Oscars (except maybe for special effects), but it’s good, clean, action-movie fun. I didn’t learn anything new about myself or feel inspired to change the world—thank goodness. I tell ya, it’s nice to just relax sometimes and enjoy a movie for what it is: a kick-ass action film featuring tough, Wild West men and exploding alien carcasses. Ah, Cowboys & Aliens … thanks for a rip-roarin’ good time. Yeeee-haw!