I’ve just finished watching ” Cowboys and Aliens ” and I can’t believe how bad it was. I remember watching the ads for the movie before it came out and thinking that it was a strange concept but that it sounded intriguing. Boy, was I in for a disappointment ! In spite of the big name actors( Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford) , the film is a dud . The acting is laughable , the story is ridiculous and the computer generated effects unconvincing.
The movie is set in Arizona in the 1880’s.It begins with an amnesiac Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) coming to consciousness in the middle of the desert , with a strange futuristic device locked to his wrist. He manages to escape this predicament and make his way to the town of Absolution only to run up against Colonel Dolarhyde ( Harrison Ford), an autocratic rancher.He butts heads against Dolarhyde’s bullying son and ultimately winds up in jail thanks to a mysterious beauty, Ella Swenson ( Olivia Wilde) who seems to know about his past. Jake keeps having flashbacks about his past as a robber, about aliens who stole his gold and snatched his wife away. Dolarhyde rides into town with his crew to rescue his son who has been locked up in jail , along with Jake. We learn that Jake had stolen the gold from Dolarhyde , who is now out for revenge .Just as Dolarhyde is about to get his hands on Jake , spaceships streak over the town , blowing up buildings , snatching townspeople off the streets with hooks and whisking them off into their ships. Jake manages to drive them off , shooting down one of the spaceships with his wrist device. Jake, Dolarhyde and his hands, Ella and some of the townspeople set off in pursuit of the aliens . Dolarhyde wants to rescue his son , Jake wants to rescue his wife and the townspeople their relatives. Along the way they join forces with a band of Chiricahua Apaches and we come to know who Ella really is . The ragtag band tracks down the alien spaceship and that’s when the fireworks really start.
Cowboys and Aliens is based on a graphic novel that came out in 2006 and the movie treatment reflects these beginnings. There is lots of action but the storyline is rudimentary and predictable. The motivations for the aliens actions are not well explained and what there are of them is silly.The lighting in the first part of the movie is inadequate and this along with the flashbacks make it difficult to follow. At first , I even thought that Lonergan’s wife and Ella Swenson were the same girl . I can’t blame Daniel Craig or Harrison Ford for their acting because they are only doing what the director told them to do . There are lots of steely eyed stares,and mano-a mano posturing which sometimes caused me to laugh.The film is a failure because it straddles the genres of Westerns and science fiction and succeeds at neither.
One fan wrote ” Have been looking forward to seeing this movie for months. After reading all the bad reviews by “professional” critics I lowered my expectations as I walked into the theater ….From the get-go it had my attention. Okay, so it is trite, corny and predictable. But it is first-rate entertainment. I loved every minute. … Yeah, the film was a little bit like James Bond meets Indiana Jones with Alien thrown in for good measure. It will not, or should not, win an Academy Award for anything. But sometimes it is okay to sit back and just have a good time. ” When you put it like that , I agree. If you can suspend your critical faculties and overlook the gaping holes in the story , if you stop trying to ‘understand’ why something is happening , Cowboys and Aliens can be fun. ( Two and a half stars out of five ).