I went into the movie with very low expectations and came out wanting to see it again. Cowboys and Aliens sounds like a pretty zany concept; something that would be more suited for a Saturday morning cartoon, a kid’s flick, or a campy comedy. And yet, despite all the doubts surrounding the idea of adapting the comic book of the same name into a feature film, it works.
I had the unfortunate experience of reading the comic book on which the film is loosely based. I say loosely based because the comic book was such a disappointing and unsatisfying read that I really had no interest in seeing a film after reading it. I’m glad that the filmmakers realized what an error it would be to tackle the concept using the comic book as a framework for the story; we all would have been in for a horrible ride.
It’s a tricky idea to pull off effectively on the big screen. As I mentioned above the concept seems a bit juvenile. What is the best way to pull off a cross-genre movie that is both a period piece and science-fiction film? We’ve all seen it not work in the past with sci-fi style technology in movies like Wild Wild West and Jonah Hex.
With Cowboys and Aliens you not only have sci-fi technology, but you also have extra-terrestrials to deal with. It could have gone two ways: silly and campy or serious and straightforward. I’m glad the filmmakers chose the latter because it makes the film much more enjoyable, believable, and entertaining.
Cowboys and Aliens is a unique movie in that there really has never been another film like it. Sure there have been plenty of Westerns and plenty alien invasion movies, but it is surprising that the two ideas have never been explored together on screen before 2011. The resulting film is something special.
Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, and Olivia Wilde bring their A-games to the table, keeping their performances real without merging into melodrama. And while there are plenty of archetypal Western characters on display, the three leads deviate from what would be considered the normal people who would lead a movie set in the Old West.
By keeping the tone serious throughout, along with plenty of graphic violence, Cowboys and Aliens takes viewers on a far darker journey than they might expect. This only helps to make the reality of aliens in the Old West appear far less kooky and much more palatable.
Cowboys and Aliens also works due to the powers that be behind the scenes. With Iron Man director Jon Favreau at the helm, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, and Brian Grazer executive producing and three writers from Lost delivering a solid screenplay, its easy to see how this movie went from potential bomb to first-class entertainment.
Another aspect that I really enjoyed was the film’s score by Harry Gregson-Williams. The music was exciting, energetic, and really captured the scope and spectacle of the film. I’m glad they decided to go with a Western-themed soundtrack instead of sci-fi or orchestral score.
My only issue with the movie was with Paul Dano’s performance. His acting style in the movie got rather irritating as was his constant mugging for the camera. If there was one character I would have like to have seen re-cast, it was his. Everyone else did a fine job with solid and engaging performances.
I would like to thank Jon Favreau for NOT making the film in 3D! This was very refreshing and made the film even better since it did not rely of silly 3D gimmickry to make the movie seem more interesting than it is. I guess he felt that the concept of aliens in the Old West was enough of a gimmick to entice audiences. And after seeing it I have to say that it is.
Cowboys and Aliens is a fun, spirited, and exciting sci-fi Western that delivers plenty of action, adventure, and thrills. I’m so glad that they took the subject matter in the direction they did instead of making it silly and cartoonish. This is a definitely a movie I recommend.
What did you think of Cowboys and Aliens? Leave a comment and let us know!