I got up early on Saturday to head out to see Cowboys and Aliens. The buzz from Comic-Con hooked me on the idea of Indiana Jones and James Bond vs. ET. The story is as follows: a man (Daniel Craig) with no memory and a strange bracelet wakes up not far from the cattle town of Absolution, AZ. He is skilled at fighting and at handling a gun, but he has no memory of who he is and how he came to be in the middle of the desert. When he arrives in the town, he meets a preacher named Meacham (Clancy Brown from The Shawshank Redemption and Starship Troopers), who helps our main character get cleaned up and provides some medical attention to a strange wound sustained not long ago. Our mystery man draws attention to himself when he helps the local saloon keeper, Doc (played by the outstanding Sam Rockwell) with the local “I can do whatever I want because my daddy’s rich”, Percy Dolarhyde (played by Paul Dano of There Will Be Blood). As an aside, what is it with characters named Percy?
It turns out that our main character is a wanted man named Jake Lonergan and he is wanted by more than just the law. Percy’s daddy, Woodrow Dolarhyde (played by the mumble-y Harrison Ford), has been looking for Lonergan to answer for some missing gold. Lonergan is apprehended thanks to the assistance of the mysterious Ella Swenson (played by Olivia Wilde from Tron: Legacy)
Then all hell breaks loose when the town is attacked by, well… aliens. Aliens attack the town in quick flying ships that blow up half of the town and steal quite a few people in the process, including Percy and Doc’s wife. Lonergan’s bracelet shows signs of life and he quickly figures out that it is a weapon. In the aftermath, it is decided that Lonergan will accompany the party that sets out to retrieve those taken from the town.
The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected:
Director Jon Favreau knows how to give the audience action. The action scenes are great. The idea of cowboys and their rifles and six-shooters against aliens with energy weapons is cool and there are a high number of casualties as you would expect.
The dialogue is sparse and the characters are underdeveloped. There isn’t much of a reason to care about them, as most of them are either horrible people or annoying. Also falling under the bad category is Emmett Taggart (played by Noah Ringer from The Last Airbender) (see the previous annoying comment). The final bad thing about this one is there was not nearly enough Sam Rockwell!
There was a moment in the film that made me sigh aloud and nearly give up on the film. Without giving any major plot spoilers, it takes place in a Native American camp. I did not expect such a convenient plot device in a movie that up until that point had been pretty much a western plus aliens.
Also unexpected, but not in a bad way, was the fact that those involved in this film did hold true to the Western aspect of this film. The major themes of redemption carry this one to the very end.
Cowboys and Aliens is not a great film and for those that do not like Westerns, they may even say that it is not even a good film. Between this and The Smurfs, this was not a bad way to spend a couple hours. I’m not sure that it will make it into my Blu Ray collection (especially since my wife HATED it), but it was a decent ride.
How much would I pay to see this one again? Out of $10, I would pay $4.00. Maybe $5.00 if a Western loving friend asked me to see it with them.