on 19 June 2012
What an odd combination. Even now having watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it, I can't quite get my head around it.
I've always felt that any film can be elevated by top notch actors. Think Star Wars, X-Men or Lord of the Rings. All of them have a wealth of seasoned and highly talented actors in tow. And Cowboys and Aliens is no different.
Daniel Craig is fantastic in the role of gun fighter/outlaw and Harrison Ford brilliant as a John Wayne esque ranch owner/ex civil war veteran. They both bring enough acting talent and gravitas to the film to outweigh the film's eyebrow raising premise.
The first 30 minutes or so are spent building the characters and it's flawless. It completely hooked me in. The balance of the film played out as expected, the aliens finally take a beating and that was that. I had a great time and I'm quite sure it's a film I'll be watching again.
However, if I'm wearing my critical hat I'd have to say that although a properly enjoyable B-movie in the vein of Independence Day, I reckon with this cast they could have made a really top quality western. I'm not sure they needed the aliens. Before watching the film I could not imagine Daniel Craig playing a cowboy. After watching it, I'm struggling to think of many actors past or present who can play the tough, silent, ruthless gunslinger any better. Seriously his performance was up there with Clint Eastwood or John Wayne.
I reckon there's a western revival coming and Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford should be at the head of the queue.
I'd almost say this film was a missed opportunity, but it really wasn't, I thoroughly enjoyed it. But as I said, I still can't quite get my head around it.
If you like westerns and you like good sci-fi then this is the film for you. Don't take it too seriously and it'll scratch most of your itches.
on 11 March 2012
...instead its just an exciting premise that somehow never translates its full potential to the screen.
The "cowboy" bits especially at the very start are quite gritty and sets you up to think this will have you riveted for the next 100mins or so. Expectations are therefore quite high by the time the "aliens" come into the picture.
But then the pacing of the movie becomes erratic, some things just don't add to the storyline, or add up - Upside down riverboat episode anyone? Or the dog that miraculously survives an alien encounter? Time is spent developing depth to characters that's frankly not needed, and its to the detriment of pacing - I don't want a dose of sentiment or character introspection when watching a movie called "Cowboys and Aliens", let's leave that to "True Grit" or "Unforgiven" or (insert your own favourite gritty and deep cowboy movie here).
Almost as overcompensation for the emotional mawkishness, you are then occasionally entertained with scenes of quite bloody violence, prolonged in the finale. Overall its not quite 'balanced', and frankly you're left feeling there should be more, by the end. But Daniel Craig's great in character, looks quite fetching in chaps, and has a waist that's trimmer than any of his leading ladies.
"Cowboys and Aliens" is one of those movies you simply have to check out just because of the title. Even more so when you find out it stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford.
Well, it isn't quite the awesomefest that the title would lead you to believe, but it is an entertaining Western-with-a-sci-fi-twist with some unexpected twists and a cast of magnificently talented actors. The aliens' reason for being on Earth is kind of flimsy, but if you can ignore that, then enjoy some energy-blasting action, creepy aliens and strong performances from ALMOST everybody.
A man (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert with no memory of who he is or how he got there. The only clues are a mysterious wound in his side, and a metal bracelet on his arm. After kicking bandit butt, he rides into the nearby town of Absolution and quickly gets arrested, since it turns out he's a wanted outlaw named Jake Lonergan, who's stolen gold and is suspected of murdering a prostitute.
But his imprisonment is interrupted twice -- first by the dictatorial ex-soldier, Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford), and then by alien ships swooping in and kidnapping several people. Jake also discovers that his metal bracelet can fire blasts of energy that destroy one of the alien ships.
So the remaining townsfolk (plus a dog) all set out to pursue the alien ships, and get their loved ones back. But a mysterious woman (Olivia Wilde) eventually reveals that she has special knowledge of these aliens -- and the key to defeating them may lie in Lonergan's blocked memories. Can a bunch of cowboys and Indians take down a spaceship of roaring green aliens?
I was expecting "Cowboys and Aliens" to be a tongue-in-cheek romp like the original graphic novel (which has nothing in common with the movie except... well, cowboys and aliens) or a fast-paced sci-fi flick. Well, it's actually neither -- director Jon Favreau instead makes it a Western that happens to be about cowboys vs. extraterrestrial monsters.
This is paced and filmed as a Western movie, with lots of dusty rides through the desert that Favreau uses to flesh the characters out. But he keeps things from getting dull by plopping in a bunch of alien attacks -- a particularly nice one is a dank, rainy battle in an upside-down riverboat -- before the story suddenly switches gears in the last reel, turning into a solidly explosive sci-fi finale.
The one big problem? The reason the aliens came to Earth is weak and contrived, and it doesn't explain why they keep going out of their way to kidnap humans. I guess it's... because they're evil?
But the acting is mostly pretty awesome. Daniel Craig is effectively playing an outlaw James Bond, who is almost superhumanly cool, capable and badass even with his bare hands. He's so awesome that he can beat up whiny rich brats with a single move, without even bothering to look at them. Yeah, it's not much of an acting stretch, but Craig pulls it off well.
Ford seems to be relishing getting to play a cranky, vicious old buzzard who constantly threatens and berates everyone around him, but learns a little something about the value of forgiveness. Clancy Brown is solid as a kindly preacher who serves as the film's moral center, and Sam Rockwell gives a simply magnificent, understated performance as Doc, a bartender whose wife has been kidnapped. You really feel that this guy's life is crumbling to dust, and that he's lost faith in everything.
The one true acting dud? Noah Ringer. Please, stop letting this kid act -- he's effectively a blank wall for Ford to bounce character development off of. And since Adam Beach is also in this movie to develop Ford, he's also useless.
"Cowboys and Aliens" has some flaws, but overall it's an entertaining Western that happens to have lots of murderous aliens and excellent performances. Yee-haw!
After a somewhat slow start, Cowboys And Aliens turns into a fun scifi western. It's a surprisingly dark and gritty film, playing like a straight western at first. Imagine you're watching an old John Wayne movie. You're enjoying it, and suddenly alien spaceships come out of nowhere blasting everything in sight and kidnapping the locals. That in a nutshell is the plot, sounds ridiculous, looks ridiculous but if not taken seriously, despite the surprisingly dark and gritty tone then it's also a lot of fun. Some good performances, Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde are all very good and there's a solid supporting cast too. All the western cliches are there, Daniel Craig is the stranger with no name, Harrison Ford the rich bad man that runs the town and then the spaceships arrive. Very good fx and good action scenes make this a fun movie.
on 15 October 2015
When you splice two popular film genres together, and they happened to be Westerns and Scifi, in the form of cowboys and aliens, you immediately think: appetite for disaster - quite possibly why the film hasn't been received well at all. But low-and-behold, if you actually watch the film, with no pre-prejudices, you'll find it's actually rather good; in fact, very good. And very much 'film' in the way 'film' was intended. Beautifully shot (the cinematographer really has to be applauded), and with appealing characters and an involving story, 'Cowboys & Aliens' is miraculously entertaining, as well as is it strong-edgy, well-dictated, and serious. And this, perhaps, is the film's real success - it's been done seriously; and demands that you take it seriously; as opposed your every-day standard MTV-influenced dross, as is the norm nowadays. In that respects, it's very much a film reminiscent of something that would have been released in the 1990s, when originality and imagination had space to flourish. In fact, if it had come out in the 90s, you can see it most likely would have had a minimum 15 certificate rating, but such are the constraints of modern day cinema.... And though the first half of the film is predominately stronger than the second, it never ceases to be entralling, capturing the western environment perfectly - but with aliens. The performances of the actors all fit in well with the film's narration, though you feel the Harrison Ford transition from villain to good-guy could have had more bite. A minor criticism would be that the aliens aren't that strongly represented in the film (a missed opportunity), nor do we get explained their real purpose, but this is just nit-picking in what is predominately a very well-made, and head-strong piece of entertainment. Definitely don't miss out on this one in the cinema. Think of enjoyable films, stylistically, along the lines of Jurrassic Park, Stargate, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, etc, and you're not far off.
I found this film barely watchable, I hardly liked anything in it and I forgot most of it hours after watching it. Below, more of my impressions with some LIMITED SPOILERS.
In 1873, Arizona Territory, an unnamed loner (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert injured, with no memory and with a strange metal object on his wrist. I will say no more about the story, obviously to avoid spoilers but ALSO because there is really not so much to be said... Later he will have some adventures, during which he will meet a preacher (Clancy Brown), a mysterious woman called Ella (Olivia Wilde), a saloon owner (Sam Rockwell), an aged, powerful local cattle baron (Harrison Ford) and later also a rough and tough and yet slightly clueless bandit named Hunt (Walton Goggins), who may or may not be somebody from his past... Some Indians at one moment will be involved. And yes, as the title clearly indicates and as the trailer suggests, there will be also some aliens. Adam Beach and Keith Carradine appear also in cameos.
Now, with a minimum effort from the scenario writers (led by none else than the infamous Damon Lindelof), director (Jon Favreau) and producer (Steven Spielberg, no less!) this could have been a honest action film or at least a good comedy of western/SF persuasion. But well, Spielberg probably never even had one single look at the scenario, Damon Lindelof (the guy who wrote this "Prometheus" abomination) did his usual thing and the director just went with the boring and ridiculous scenario without giving a darn about the final result. Which is awful!
This is a very boring film, with poor action scenes, bad dialogs, virtually no humour, ridiculous story line and a pathetic great finale. The only reason why I give it two stars, is because of presence of some good actors, amongst which one (Harrison Ford) I like a lot and another one (Olivia Wilde) is a hot chick. Other than that there is nothing there. Avoid.
on 23 July 2013
My pet hate in films is the lack of volume consistency. I cannot stand breathy female over dramatic whispering, followed by loud explosions, followed by breathy male grunts, followed by loud explosions, followed by breathy male grunts. This film can only be enjoyed with your hand on the volume buttons. When the actors talk, they seem to just whisper in an over dramatic grunt and then the explosions are SERIOUSLY loud! Its so irritating!
The storyline is just plain weird. Yeah, I get the whole concept of aliens in a cowboy film is obviously going to have a strange plotline but they've taken it up another level!
Don't waste your money.
on 7 December 2011
I was quite skeptical about this movie. What were they thinking about mixing two completely unlike genres, cowboys, Apaches and aliens together? Well, my mistake. The end result is both a good western and a very credible sci-fi movie. So, out of an apparent weird mix came out an original movie under a plausible story line (Sorry, no spoiler, I will not go into the details of the plot).
I really liked the performance of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde. All three main actors have in common to be associated with their roles in previous serial movies or TV series, where they played the lead or a key role. In this movie they managed to deliver a performance quite different from the character we are used to, particularly Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. I think this is her first key role other than "House" in which you can appreciate the quality of her acting. I hope she gets more opportunities like this to show us her talent.
As for the special effects, they are quite realistic, and it is notable that the insect-like aliens are not hidden with low lighting like in so many alien movies. The amazing thing is that the SFX are not based completely on computer animations (GCI). The film was shot using good old puppets and animatronics for the close-ups, combined with CGI for the battle scenes. Even some of the alien ships were scale models. My only quibble is that one of the alien features resembles a lot the character Kuato in Total Recall [DVD] (no spoiler again). My respects to director Jon Favreau, a great combination of old and new technology.
on 18 August 2012
An unlikely Combination of Cowboys versus Aliens was always going to have many sceptical reviews, But thanks to The talents of the Exec producers including Steven Spielburg along with Ron Howards Contribution, plus an interesting mix of castings, its surprisingly good saturday night Viewing, "Indiana Jones" meets "Independance day" would be a reasonable comparison.
half way through, you start to ask yourself, (***spoiler Alert***)
How did the dead girl thrown on to the fire by the Indians reincarte herself, albeit naked, Which was a bit of treat. XD Then some pieces missing from Danial Craigs memmory start to make some sense, and how he aquired the bracelet, Can't help comparing that part of the film with the "The mummy returns" where Ricks son, wear's the bracelet of Anubis, until it falls of, when they get to The Scorpian Kings resting place. Harrison Ford Plays his part, as if he's Still In Indiana Jones, and that Little Wry smile of his is still there :)
How did it rate. better Than I thought it would be, hence 4 stars.
on 28 May 2014
Great cast, interesting premise, but messy implementation. The initial mystery is fairly obvious, but intriguing enough to keep you watching. Unfortunately, this isn't rewarded by a script that makes sense, or characters that you are all that bothered about. Daniel Craig is not a cowboy, however fine a Bond he is. Harrison Ford does his late career grizzled old bear schtick well enough, but his character goes from all round bad bloke to revealing secret heart of gold in a way that just doesn't work. Olivia Wilde puts in a decent performance, although I won't spoil it by explaining more.
The SFX are ok, but not spectacular. Falling Skies does the whole alien invasion piece much better, although obviously you have a much longer story arc to play with. All in all, ok for a rainy afternoon.