I don’t understand how Cowboys & Aliens is getting such low reviews on rotten tomatoes. Maybe if it was a tie-in to the Avengers the critics would be falling all over themselves in praise of it. Cowboys doesn’t have the low numbers of the Smurfs but still it doesn’t belong in the 40% range. I think most people are confused whether they wanted a good ol’ western or a straight up action flick. Well confusion is what you’re gonna get when you mash up two unrelated genres such as these. Personally, I’m happy that this film is mostly a western movies with throwbacks to better westerns out there. And yes, it is even able to please the impatient viewer with the final third being the siege on the alien ship.
Daniel Craig is the amnesiac stranger who drifts into town and becomes the center of attention as his new tech bracelet helps to fend off some attacking aliens. Harrison Ford is finally in a decent movie and gets his fair share of redeeming time as he plays the “money” behind the town. Essentially, aliens attack without warning and take people for experiments. The crew of surviving townsfolk group together and mount up to get their family members back. The real reason aliens are attacking Earth might seem kind of hokey at first, but it really fits perfectly in the scope of a true western.
The best part of this movie is its cast. Everyone in the movie gets their fair share of screen time. Surprisingly for a summer blockbuster, you actually care about all of them and their personal stories. Film fans will be pleasantly surprised to see cult favorites Clancy Brown and Keith Carradine in this flick, but their presence gives this movie gravitas. Paul Dano has a glorified cameo but steals the show every time he appears. Couldn’t we all use more Dano? Sam Rockwell plays Doc, a grumpy bar owner on a personal journey to rescue his wife and also his manhood. I think I’m starting to enjoy every movie that Rockwell is a part of. And let’s not forget Olivia Wilde. Not only is she gorgeous, but she actually has a pivotal role in the story.
I think this is a great late summer release. I am tired of popcorn robot/superhero/wizard battles. I was ready for a slower film with a little carnage and Cowboys and Aliens fit the bill. And like I said, good characterization never hurts.
If the wife/girlfriend/partner is letting you have a guys night this weekend, this is a great choice for relaxing for 2 hours and escapism. One of the downsides is that Favreau is not a genre director. In the right hands this movie could have been a cult classic. It’s a shame, but not an entirely missed opportunity. B+