Review of: Cowboys & Aliens

30 Jul

 View a scene from Cowboys & Aliens:

 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zH7KZD5vGBY

 It’s been a while since there has been a film with such an impressive line up: 

  • Jon Favreau who hit pay dirt directing the Iron Man series.
  • Daniel Craig, the most recent James Bond.
  • Harrison Ford who garnered international fame in the Indiana Jones and Star War series.
  • Mega-heavyweight producers, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard.

But as the NBA’s Miami Heat just found out, sometimes having a lot of big names just ain’t enough. Cowboys & Aliens based upon a novel by the same name, combines the old west toughs with invaders from outer space. But this film misses its target and never really takes off.

 Lonegan (Craig) plays a mysterious drifter who losses his memory but encounters others who know him well. One of those is Ella (Olivia Wilde) who has a past with Lonegan that he can’t remember. Then the local sheriff recognizes Lonegan from a wanted poster and jails him.  Ford is Dolarhyde, a wealthy, time worn rancher. His son is a local bully who can count upon his powerful father to rescue him from paying for his misdeeds. The son gets locked up when he accidentally shoots a deputy. As he has done before, Dolarhyde rides into town to save his misbehaving son.   While Dolarhyde and his men try to free his son, a group of space aliens arrive from the heavens to attack and make off with innocent town’s folk.

 This leads to an awkward alliance between Lonegan, Ella, Dolarhyde and eventually a Native American tribe to do battle with the aliens.

This combination of genres Westerns and sci-fi outer space invaders is not an appealing combination. This isn’t champagne and orange juice; this is more like milk and vinegar. Further each component part, the Western and aliens segments, have to be compelling on their on. Then come together to create a powerful film. But each individual storyline fails and together they create an even bigger failure. It’s like two boring people don’t create an interesting couple.

 Hollywood has become the master of special effects, but this movie’s effects are decidedly mediocre. 

 The Cowboys & Aliens producers prided themselves on drawing from history. The Native Americans featured in the film are Chiricahua, decedents of Geronimo’s tribe. The producers should be commended for this authenticity.  However, one error this film makes as do most Hollywood Westerns is the lack of black cowboys. In an exhaustively researched article, the U.S. News & World Report determined about 20% of cowboys were black. One historian went even further stating that the very term itself, cowboys, was coined to described black slaves who drove cattle from location to location for their wealthy owners.

On our cast diversity rating Cowboys & Aliens gets a B- for the Native American involvement.

 On its overall rating,Cowboys & Aliens hits rock bottom and is Dead on Arrival.

 At 118 minutes, it’s just shy of two hours in length and rated PG-13 for violence.

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