Review: Cowboys and Aliens is a Geek’s Kind of Western
I beginning to think that @Jon_Favreau is becoming one of my favorite Hollywood directors, because after watching Cowboys and Aliens yesterday I can say with full confidence that this guy makes movies for people like me. When I first heard about his Western featuring aliens I had concerns that the two very different genres would mix together like oil and water. I just didn’t know if a movie could be pulled off that featured cowboys fighting aliens versus the Indians that we are used to seeing them battle. Well, after screening Cowboys and Aliens yesterday I can say that the odd pairing works, and quite well if I might say.
Favreau and his wild imagination coupled with great performances by Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and the lovely Olivia Wilde are what make Cowboys and Aliens such an enjoyable trip through a genre of film you’ve never seen before. I’ve never been a huge fan of Westerns, but I’ve always dug sci-fi motifs such as aliens, so the pairing worked wonderfully in my eyes. C&A, for the most part, stays pretty true to the typical plot of a Western. Daniel Craig is a lost outlaw in a small town that has to deal with the local posse that is led by Harrison Ford and their grip on said small town. Although, just when you think that Cowboys is about to hit its Western roots full stride some crazy a*s flying alien fighters enter the picture and flip the Western genre on its head faster than you can say, “WTF!”
The Aliens are Cool, but Ford and Craig are the True Stars
The aliens truly are what set this movie apart from other films that feature green men from a distant star, or a bunch of rough riders taming the wild west. The aliens aren’t developed in an in-depth manner as far as their back story goes, but for the time period that this movie takes place it works. Considering that we’re dealing with the late 1800’s to early 1900’s the people in this film aren’t too interested in figuring out where these invaders came from. In fact, they’re referred to as monsters by the locals, and the word alien is never even brought up. So the fact that the aliens don’t really get much of a back story kind of works in a film set in a more simple time period of man’s existence.
I really liked the look and feel of Favreau’s aliens. They definitely looked like the monsters that the locals were calling them, and they moved liked evil beasts as well. They have a humanoid form, but they can also move on all 4 appendages like a galloping gorilla. I liked how they could also open their chests to expose some creepy looking sub-arms to get more personal with their lab rats.
Outside of their looks I really enjoyed their weaponry and vehicles. I really loved their scout ships, which had an awesome sound profile attached to them that made my ears orgasm during heavy action scenes involving them. To be honest with you, I think the sound design of Cowboys and Aliens is probably my favorite aspect of the movie. If you see this thing in its digital form be prepared for an amazing auditory experience. The same can be said about the aliens infamous wrist mounted weapon too. That thing both looks and sounds like a package full of awesomeness. The caretakers of this flick definitely put in the work needed on details like sound, and CG to make the aliens in Cowboys and Aliens seem like bada*s mutha f*ckas!
This Western Gets Flipped on its Head Once These Things Show Up
The aliens and all of their fancy looking technology wouldn’t really have been able to carry this movie without the Cowboys to do battle with. I really think Craig did a find job playing an amnesia stricken outlaw who didn’t fear anything. His character just oozed tough guy, and he made it believable that a technology deficient race could do battle with a much more advanced foe. I really enjoyed his interactions with both Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. Ford, as most critics are pointing out, really did put on one of his best performances of his aging career. I was able to look past the fact that Han Solo now wears earrings while watching this movie, and Ford really did embody the big bad businessman/rancher character that is usually found in most Westerns.
Olivia Wilde on the other hand again proved why she’s becoming the go to leading lady in sci-fi movies. Her eyes will latch onto your soul and keep you focused on her beautiful face even while there’s a war’s worth of action going on in the background. Her character really wasn’t that fleshed out, but I couldn’t help but be interested in her because of Wilde’s performance. She’s one helluva geeky-babe actress.
Cowboys and Aliens managed to utilize both the cool looking invaders and the acting professionals to pull off a new type of genre, but it also utilized its cast to make a dope a*s action movie as well. This flick is pretty much go, go, go from the beginning to the end. Every action scene was wonderfully edited and full of both visual and audible flare. As mentioned earlier the sound design on this movie is top notch, but so are the visuals. The action scenes are extremely fast paced, and for the first time you get to see what it’d look like to battle aliens using the technology available during the earlier parts of American history. There’s something really unique about seeing cowboys trying to fight aliens while on horses with some six-shooters. You wouldn’t think it would work, but Favreau totally figured out how to do it.
Scenes Like This Shouldn’t Work, but They do in Cowboys and Aliens
If I had to gripe about one thing in Cowboys and Aliens I’d have to say it was Olivia Wilde’s character. Trust me, she’s a goddess to look at, and her acting is superb, but her character just seemed out of place. I’m not going spoil the movie for you, but her character isn’t your typical lady frontiersman. The whole thing just seemed pretty far out for a movie that was already far out to begin with. Her character’s history isn’t a show stopper, but I just found her back story to be too convenient.
Overall, Cowboys and Aliens is a unique mix of both the Western, and the Alien invasion motif seen in many other films. Jon Favreau managed to merge these two very different genres into one very exciting flick. The look of the film is masterful, and it’s sound is even better. Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde all did fine jobs in making this odd movie work, and the CG aliens played wonderful bad guys. I would’ve like more back story on Wilde’s character, but her beauty is enough to make most men forget about her odd placement in the movie. I give Cowboys and Aliens an EB 4 out of 5 stars! Make sure to screen it in its digital format when you go to see it, which you should be thinking about doing right now if you haven’t already. It’s a great way to spend a few hours of your day. Favreau has definitely made another hit amongst his geek brethren. You’ve been wanting to really see this movie now…
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