Sunday, July 31, 2011

Movie Review: Cowboys and Aliens

Ever since I saw the trailer last year, I've been anxiously awaiting this movie. SF meets Western flick - what's not to love? After all, Star Wars is just a Western in space.

A brief rundown: In 1873 Arizona, our hero (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of nowhere with no recollection of who he is or where he is, and a weird bracelet on his wrist. After getting into a scuffle with some roughians, he heads to the town of Absolution. There he meets a woman, Ella (Olivia Wilde), who seems to know more about what's going on. Our hero also finds out he's the wanted criminal Jake Lonergan, whom Colonial Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) has a personal grudge with. But when aliens attack the town and kidnap citizens, including Dolarhyde's son, Lonergan (his bracelet is the key to destroying the aliens), Dolarhyde, and Ella team up to track down the alien nemesis.

For once, in a long time, I've actually found a movie that I enjoyed immensely - no, really! The acting was superb, each character has a story-arc and grew a little by the end of the movie, lots and lots of action, good handling of tropes - and no, just because there were tropes does not make it cliche, and a satisfying conclusion. No, this movie isn't the deep brilliance of Blade Runner (my favorite move ever) but it's enjoyable. It doesn't drag in any spots or make you groan with sob scenes that take fooooreeeever. Yes, beloved characters died and there were tears, but they kept it brief.

There is criticism about the alien menace being too dumb. I'm just glad they're not insects! Though, they're kind of these weird mutant turtle things. I wonder if they like pizza... Anyway, one issue was that the bracelet/weapon that Lonergan uses originally came from the aliens - you know how it goes, careless worker leaves it out and the human test subject grabs it and runs away. Looks like someone is receiving a deduction from their pay check. In my eyes, considering that mysterious little Ella could also use this alien tech, I figure this technology is not exclusive to this alien race. Perhaps the bracelet/weapon, which operates based on the owners thoughts or emotions, was mass produced to fit all interplanetary species needs. I wouldn't be surprised if there a logo on that thing. And you know how dumb people can get a hold of guns? Well, perhaps this is the SF version of dumb aliens getting a hold of dangerous gadgets.  

Trying not to spoil this because I want you to see it. Yes, support the good movies! Instead of crap like Transformers franchise. Plus, I'd love to see Hollywood do more of this genre mashing, perhaps a fantasy western or space fantasy - or space fantasy western. There's lots of good tropes in these genres waiting to be used properly! Also, I'm sort of becoming tired of of superhero movies. Please, can we have something else?

So I'm giving this movie my rare rating of 5 out of 5 stars. Dumb aliens or not, it didn't detract from my enjoyment of this film.


  1. So glad to read a stellar review; I've been looking forward to this one too. Rotten Tomatoes had me a little worried...

  2. This is the second blog I've read today that recommends this movie. It may go on my list...