Alright, day two of the repeat project. Rereading this review I gave “Cowboys and Aliens” a 3.8 out of 5 and I cannot remember why. That feels awfully high for a bad sci-fi flick. I think I have a tendency to overate things.

(((RATING))) “Cowboys & Aliens” gets a 3.8-out-of-5 due to some of the shots of the aliens and the inescapable ridiculousness of the premise.

I walked into “Cowboys & Aliens” expecting not to like it. Throughout Friday I made a sequence of jokes based on the premise. Doesn’t “Cowboys & Aliens” sound like something written in a third grade English class? I swear to whomever that at one point my parents had a teacher explain to them during a parent teacher conference about my Cowboys versus Aliens novel premise. The teacher called me eccentric.

She separated my space toys and western toys during indoor recess.

Exiting the movie, I figured out that “Cowboys & Aliens” has to be viewed in a specific light. If you walk into the movie expecting more of a science fiction type flick, you will ultimately be disappointed. The heart of the movie lies within the western genre.

The important aspects within a western film, according to the American Film Institute, are the spirit, struggle, and demise of the western frontier. Traditionally the films show struggles between Cowboys and Indians, bank robbers and sheriffs or cattle ranchers and thieves. Adding aliens wasn’t necessarily adding “Aliens” as much as it was adding another aspect into the western element for the people of the west to overcome. That is what made the movie interesting.

“Cowboys and Aliens,” directed by Jon Favreau, is a story about a group of people living within the 1870’s west unifying to battle a group of aliens on earth to acquire gold and take over the world in the process.

The movie begins with Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) waking up in the desert, unable to remember his past, with a sizeable wound on his abdomen, and an odd braclet on his left wrist. Eventually he makes his way to Absolution, a sparse desert town in the middle of what would be present dayNew Mexico. There he finds a varied group of residents ranging from the town pastor Meachem (Clancy Brown), the town barkeep Doc (Sam Rockwell), and the mysterious Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde) amongst others.

After disarming an intoxicated Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano) in the center of the city, a group of people recognize Jake to be Jake Lonergan, a criminal with a heavy bounty on him. After taking him in, which doesn’t turn out to be as easy as it sounds, the sheriff readies to transfer Jake and Percy toSanta Feto be in the jurisdiction of the federal marshal. However, just as they are about to leave the city Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) enters the city with an extensive posse to obtain his son and the person who stole his gold, Jake Lonergan.

In the midst of the confrontation a light appears in the northern sky. The aliens attack.

The first confrontation between the Aliens and the Cowboys is dark and confusing. The aliens at first appear to be the big steel looking birds that have the ability to hook people and take them away. Later we find out that those are scouts being controlled by massive green monsters with multiple limbs. Throughout the attack scene, the audience finds out that Jake is the only one who can combat the aliens, as his bracelet forms into a gun which can take down the aliens easily.

Having the first confrontation at night creates a mystery as to what the aliens actually are which adds a significant amount of more suspense to the movie. Left without knowledge of who they are up against, all the villagers know is that they have to go find their loved ones who were taken by the aliens and they need Jake to do it.

There are stellar performances across the board in this film. Craig plays the role of Lonergan as well as John Wayne would have. Craig always seemed in control of the situation, was unbeatable in fight scenes, and reacted with emotional relativity once aspects of his memory came back into place.

Ford played the role of Dolarhyde as well. Throughout his performance, the viewer senses his apprehension of war based on his former profession, and realizes his genuine desire to find his son based off of conversations with the child who tags along on the journey they take to find their loved ones.

Lastly Rockwell and Wilde give strong performances. Rockwell’s character arguably sees the most growth throughout the movie. Seen by the majority of the townspeople to be a push over at the start of the film, he contributes equally in the ending scenes and earns merit amongst the people he traveled with. He also has some of the best one-liners in the movie which adds lightness to the mission they are undertaking.

Wilde’s character, while mysterious and arguably under explained, was essential to the development of Lonergan. Her questions and incessant pestering of him once he comes into town and on the trail alludes to a fact that she knows more than she is letting on and is trying to get Lonergan up to speed.

“Cowboys & Aliens” is not a good science fiction movie, but is an excellent western. I recommend taking Dad or Grandpa out to this one.


Welcome to the empty recesses of my mind! I'm a recent college graduate realizing a Creative Writing degree was a bad idea. Give me a pity like. Or you could check out the about sections (on the front page and about this author page) on my blog to learn a little more about me. Whatever.

One Comment on “Repeat: “Cowboys & Aliens”: an excellent western, decent sci-fi flick.

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