Review: Cowboys and Aliens
Whether you end up in Heaven or Hell isn’t God’s plan, it’s your own.
With Cowboys and Aliens its faults are too obvious not to take notice of and its more positive aspects are shrouded behind its more mundane attributes.
Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert, bloodied and dirtied without a name, boots on his feet or memory of who he is. He then violently dispatches a gang of thugs before heading towards to the town of Absolution. There he encounters the mysterious Ella (Olivia Wilde) and Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), a man who wants Lonergan for an incident that happened before the film began. When the town comes under attack from alien spaceships and abducts several of the townsfolk, Lonergan and Dolarhyde band together to rescue their kin before it’s too late.
Cowboys and Aliens downfall is that it’s just like any other alien invasion film, with the old west as a setting. A John Ford-esque western mixed with aliens should be unique, instead director Jon Favreau appears to conform to the standard blockbuster template leaving a film that’s sorely lacking any danger or excitement.
There’s a workmanlike quality to the film’s structure, setting the various strands and character motivations in a very traditional way that could have used some humour instead of coming across as so dour.
When it does let loose, it brings out the explosions and CGI, something audiences are accustomed to seeing. Cowboys and Aliens doesn’t differentiate itself from the pack enough, it needs surprises, invention and something more than a typical three act structure with a predictable resolution.
The aliens are nonthreatening and worst of all look fake. Matters aren’t helped by loosely applied logic where one moment a character suggests that the aliens “don’t see very well in the sunlight” and in the next the aliens see perfectly fine. It’s as if no-one checked for consistency.
Cowboys and Aliens isn’t terrible experience, just a deeply average one. In its attempts to offer blockbuster thrills, it hits the expected beats but fails to inspire as much entertainment as its premise.