Cowboys & Aliens Movie Review

Cowboys & Aliens begins with Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) waking up in the middle of nowhere.  He doesn’t remember who he is or how he got there, and the only clues he has are a faded photograph of a woman and a metal bracelet on his arm that he can’t remove.  After stealing clothes, money and a horse from a group of men he heads out into the Wild West until he comes upon a small town.  Here he discovers his name, and finds out that he stole gold from the local rancher named Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).  Before Dolarhyde can extract revenge however, strange craft appear in the sky and kidnap several of the townsfolk.  Lonergan discovers the bracelet on his arm is really a weapon, and after the craft vanish with their captives he and several of the townsfolk set out to reclaim their kin.

Cowboys & Aliens had potential, but never quite seems to live up to it.  The blending of genres can be a tricky one, and when it’s been done right in the past (in such movies as Blade Runner, Alien and the TV show Firefly) it’s been because they do both genres extremely well.  Blade Runner for instance is a great film noir, but it puts it into a science fiction backdrop.  Cowboys & Aliens on the other had is not a great western, nor is it a great science fiction movie; both are just all right.  The acting is fine (although Harrison Ford is his usual over the top self and doesn’t really do his character justice), but the story unfortunately is not.  It’s full of plot holes and stereotypical characters.  The heroes are also hard to like, which makes it very difficult to get behind their cause.  It doesn’t help either that at first they are too stupid to realize that they should be shooting the aliens in the head instead of trying to shoot their armored bodies.  As for the aliens, they have advanced weaponry and yet the majority of them choose to attack hand to hand.  That just doesn’t make sense.  One could go on and on about the problems with this movie, but it’s best to leave it here.

Overall this movie isn’t as terrible as it sounds, but it’s disappointing because it could have been so much better.  On paper it had a terrific cast and a great director, but unfortunately the story takes away from it and leaves everything else in its’ shadow.  While it’s not the worst movie to come out this blockbuster season, it’s far from the best.  If you must see it, wait until you can see it at a discount theatre.

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