Cowboys & Aliens - Review


"Cowboys & Aliens"...when i first heard about this movie during last year's Comic-Con, i didn't really know what to think about. The idea of letting cowboys and aliens fight first seems fun but at the same time incredibly silly. On top of that, Harrison Ford is one of the main actors...well Harrison Ford should have learned a lesson that some genres just don't match (*COUGH* INDIANA JONES 4).
But with Jon Favreau as the director, this movie had quite some potential of becoming a campy but still fun blockbuster if made right (even though i'd rather wished for "Cowboys & Zombies").



Plot:
A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region. A posse of cowboys (including Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig) are all that stand in their way.  (source IMDb)

The entire movie (as its title says) mainly consists out of two different movies from two different genres.
While the idea of mixing two genres has already been done several times by other movies, only few succeeded in successfully putting those oppositional parts together (for example "Predator"). So genre-mix movies are not doomed right from the start.
However, with "Cowboys & Aliens" it often feels like, you are watching two movies (a western and a sci-fi) of which neither one of them is very good or manages to rise above "average".

Of both storylines, the western part is the most present one but is filled up with countless western-movie clichees and characters, which might be fun to watch (especially Harrison Ford who is mainly just playing himself and having fun) but which don't really convince anyone.
The sci-fi part is also as clichee and routine as it gets. It's the commonly known abduction alien plot, with every alien clichee of the book with experiments, etc..

While both storylines are terribly clicheed, they are not horrible but just routine. The movie puts its entire focus on the hype of letting cowboys fight aliens. Innovative storytelling gets left behind.
But for a movie with the confrontations of cowboys and aliens, the movie has (except maybe for its showdown) very few to no highlights whatsoever.

Acting is absolutely nothing to write home about here. As i already mentioned the clicheed script heavily drags down the credibility of each role. While Daniel Craig consistently keeps his badass attitude, Harrison Ford just plays himself, and Olivia Wilde is just walking around looking hot and mysterious, it's not really bad because "Cowboys & Aliens" is no movie that really demands high-class acting.
The entire cast does ok in this regard (in the regard that they are acting in a movie called "Cowboys & Aliens"!!).

But if you compare the acting and characters of this movie to other sci-fi movies ans westerns...the acting here is just as bland and generic as it gets (most of the actors don't even try to act with a western accent!).

But now let's get to the action:
Clearly the main focus of such a movie should be the action and the battles. Unfortunately these happen far not as often as expected. Mostly we get to see the cowboys chasing the aliens, following their tracks or Daniel Craig, who is having yet another flashback.
The real cowboy-vs.-alien-action happens during the last 30 minutes.
The idea itself that cowboys strategically try to fight aliens and their ships is pretty interesting but not that well executed by Favreau (concerning that the movie has far not enough action than a movie with the title "Cowboys & Aliens" deserves).

The effects are of course entirely CG(except some small, rare portions in which you see parts of the alien which seem to be puppetry), with the alien CG looking far better than the spaceship CG.
The alien- and spaceship designs themselves are not the most innovative and most probably won't wow anybody, but they look good enough to avoid being embarassing.

All in all, Jon Favreau maybe just wanted to show off to people that he is such a great director that he could even make a movie called "Cowboys & Aliens" cool.
Unfortunately the movie is (as i expected) a huge backfire.
Perhaps the movie would have worked a little better if the aliens were some kind of a suprise-twist-plot that nobody knew about, a la "From Dusk Till Dawn".
But most dissapointing is the fact, that the movie most of the time is flatout boring. But to be fair, as a silly effects-driven summer blockbuster "Cowboys & Aliens" might just baaaaaaarely work.
In the end it comes down to this: blending together a "not-so-good" western with a "not-so-good" sci-fi movie doesn't result in a good sci-fi/western.
Because that's what you get with "Cowboys and Aliens".


Final Verdict: 3 out of 10

 

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