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Cowboys & Aliens

Updated on March 10, 2013

Cowboy & Aliens

Director: Jon Favreau

Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Steve Oedekerk, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

Cast: Daniel Craig, Sam Rockwell, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Abigail Spencer, Noah Ringer, Keith Carradine

Synopsis: The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been...

MPAA Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference

Yee Haw! Time To Round Us Up Some Aliens!

Like "Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl", I'm sure a lot of people laughed their figurative a**es off when they heard the premise of this film. Hell, they probably laughed so hard that they damn neared wet themselves, but look who's laughing now? I'll admit like some people, I was a tad skeptical when I first heard about this movie over a year ago. Wondering how the hell would a showdown between cowboys and aliens be remotely interesting, but I was also kind of curious as well. Not because I thought the movie would be great, but mostly because I liked the idea of combining two genres that nobody would've expected into one film. Seriously, how many westerns can you name where cowboys were fighting aliens? Or any alien invasion films that took place in the old west? Needless to say, the idea of "Cowboys & Aliens" had me intrigued, and mostly curious.

Plus, Jon Favreau is a very skillful director, as even some of his bad movies are halfway decent like "Zathura: A Space Adventure." Therefore, I was willing to keep an open mind about this film, and I have to say that it's a lot better than most people might think. Sure, people can laugh all they want about how absurd the premise sounds for this film. Then again, how is that different from any other alien invasion film? Sure, there was both the remake and original version of "War of the Worlds", which were both great films in their own right. Hell, you can probably even throw in the "Alien" and "Predator" franchises in there as being considered great films as well. However, most other alien invasion films are often cliched, and most of them frankly are absurd when you stop to think about it. Besides, I doubt seriously any weapon on this planet would be able to prevent an actual alien invasion; especially considering they'd more than likely carry technologically superior weapons. Sorry, but I tend to favor the side that carries the biggest gun if you know what I mean.

The story starts off with a young gunslinger named Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), as he wakes up in the middle of the desert with a strange metal armband on his wrist. Unaware of how he got there to begin with, or even who he is, Jake manages to make his way into town, after encountering some thieves along the way. From here, the film plays out like a typical western story. A lone bad a** wanders into town, with very little back story revealed to the audience, yet you can immediately tell he's not someone to be messed with. Due to a series of events, Jake finds himself locked up in jail for a crime he cannot remember. To make matters worse, one of the town's most powerful and richest citizens, Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford), seems to have a bit of a score to settle with Jake, and practically bullies the local sheriff to hand Jake over to him. As all this is happening, the unthinkable occurs, and the town is invaded by aliens. Unaware of what they are, the town folk start firing their pistols and shotguns in self defense, as the aliens try to capture them one by one, but none of the weapons that the cowboys use seem to prove much use against these high tech ships. As all this is happening, Jake's armband goes off and turns into a powerful weapon; which he uses to not only break out of prison, but to drive the aliens away from the town.

Reluctant at first, Jake eventually agrees to help Woodrow Dolarhyde and his men track down the aliens, so they can rescue the kidnapped townspeople that the aliens swiped that night. From here, the story reveals a lot more about Jake's past, as well as an elaborate adventure where everything is not always what they seem.

As I mentioned earlier, Jon Favreau always manages to make any movie halfway decent; in spite of script and character flaws in any film that he directs. When it came to "Iron Man 2", I'm sure Jon could have phoned it in like Sam Raimi did with "Spider-Man 3", when the studio forced him to shove unnecessary sub plots into the movie against his protests. However, if there's one thing you can never take away from the guy, it's that he's a very skillful improviser on the sly. Not only did he manage to make "Iron Man 2" a decent film in spite of it being obviously rushed, and containing too many sub plots, but he was able to still tell an effective story anyway. Same can be said of "Zathura: A Space Adventure", where sure you can easily say it was a space age version rip off of "Jumanji", but he was able to make the film at least fun and entertaining. Where in spite of the film's obvious cliched ridden stupidity, you could still temporarily suspend your disbelief to have fun. As far as what this has to do with "Cowboys & Aliens", I'll get to that now.

Although, I'll be the first to admit the premise of this movie does sound cheesy, and probably downright stupid. However, Jon Favreau manages make the film not only as entertaining as the trailers would suggest, but he also manages to tell an effective story that seamlessly weaves in science fiction with western lore. Allowing for the story to naturally progress to where audiences will be hooked from beginning to end, as they won't be able to take their eyes off the screen. Sure, the story does tend to border on the line of camp a lot of times, but it never gets boring though to say the least. If anything, it's just one of those fun action movies that you tend to enjoy watching in spite of it's flaws; while it leaves you just enough mystery and plot twists to keep it interesting.

As for the special effects, they're pretty much everything that you'd expect from a Hollywood film, and Daniel Craig does a great job playing the strong silent type in this movie. Harrison Ford manages to keep the movie grounded like he did with the original "Star Wars" trilogy; while Olivia Wilde proves to be one of the most charming actresses in cinema. Sure, she probably won't win any awards for her acting, but she's definitely charming whenever she has to be, as she's a rare combination of both beauty and talent when it comes to these types of films.

In the end, I wouldn't say that "Cowboys & Aliens" is anywhere near the disaster that skeptics feared it would be, but it's certainly not as great as the hype either. It's definitely worth renting if you're into a lot of movies, and you're looking for something that's a bit different than most films out there. However, I wouldn't pay to see this in a theater, as the story comes off a bit too cheesy at times. Overall, I would have to give this movie a two and a half out of four. Sure, the script for this movie can border on the edge of camp a lot, but the acting performances along with Jon Favreau's direction help keep the film in line to where it never loses the attention of it's audience.


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    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      6 years ago

      That's cool. Be sure to let me know what you think of it then, as I hope you like the movie. Anyway, in case I don't see you soon, I hope you have a great holiday. :)

    • Paradise7 profile image


      6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I liked your review so much I'll have to check this one out on Netflix. Thanks, Steve. And RedElf's idea of a stocking-stuffer is a good one, too.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      6 years ago

      Your welcome RedElf, and thanks again for stopping by. I hope whoever you buy this movie for that they'll enjoy it as much as i did. :)

    • RedElf profile image


      6 years ago from Canada

      It sounds like this one will make a good stocking-stuffer. Thanks for another masterful review!

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago

      @taco tagger and nickalooch

      lol. yeah that's true guys. well it should be interesting if that holds true or not. i just wonder how it'll be done if there is a "dinosaurs vs aliens" on the horizon. lol.

    • Nickalooch profile image


      7 years ago from Columbia, MD

      get speilberg to do it. im sure he would. use the same props from Jurassic Park. make it happen. lol

    • The Taco Tagger profile image

      Jim Jimbo 

      7 years ago

      Dinosaurs fighting aliens? Ok, honestly, that sounds pretty awesome. If it isn't made by Sy Fy, then I would totally check it out haha.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago

      @taco tagger

      Thanks buddy. I'm glad you liked the review, but I'm sure you'd be able to come up with a pretty good review too if you wanted to write it anyway. Yeah, I thought this movie was kind of in the middle of road too. It's not a great film, but I think it's fairly decent for what it tries to be. Oh well. I just can't believe there's rumors right now that Hollywood might do a movie where dinosaurs fight off an alien invasion. Gee, won't that be fun? lol. anyway, thanks for stopping by again.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago


      lol. Yeah, I agree with you there. I think Olivia Wilde isn't necessarily a great actress, but she's fairly good at it. I don't know what it is about her, but I always enjoy whatever film she stars in. Of course, like you, I too think she's very hot, as well, but I would never give her credit for being sexy in a movie. If i did that, then I'd have give credit to every film that Megan Fox and Pamela Anderson ever done, as I think they're hot too. lol. Anyway, to get back to everything else you said, I do agree with you about Harrison Ford, as he's not a chameleon type actor like Ledger was that could transform himself into a character. Nah, whenever he plays a role, he's always Harrison Ford playing a character. Granted, there's nothing wrong with it, as he starred in a lot of my favorite films growing up, but you do make a good point there.

      Anyway, I hope you like the movie whenever you get a chance to see it, and thanks for stopping by. If you want, I can give you some links to a few movie sites where you can see it for free.

    • The Taco Tagger profile image

      Jim Jimbo 

      7 years ago

      Ha, thanks for writing this review. I was going to do a review of it too but it would just copy yours. I thought the movie was very middle of the road as I tend to not like the "I saved the world" type of films. I thought if anything, Battle: Los Angeles was much better than this simply because it felt like Black Hawk Down and at the end of that movie you realize that they didn't actually save the entire world. Cowboys and Aliens just seemed very "meh" to me. I would say that people need to see this for simple the fact that it's fun, but I wouldn't tell people to spend money on it. Another thing that bothered me with this is that this movie took itself way too seriously for a movie with cowboys fighting aliens. Good review!

    • Nickalooch profile image


      7 years ago from Columbia, MD

      ive liked Olivia Wilde for sometime, and like you say its not like shes a great actress its just something whether it's charm or whatever. Granted it helps from my point of view that I think shes hot. All that being said, I can't honestly say I haven't enjoyed any movie shes in. Alpha Dog was a great movie in my opinion that doesn't get enough credit.

      As for Daniel Craig, i think hes just ok. Harrison Ford is Harrison Ford. He is action films in the flesh, as is Bruce Willis. Pairing all these people with's hard to not make this film into an entertaining summer flick.

      Good review though, just my lazy thoughts. I want to see the movie, but insufficient funds as of now.

    • Stevennix2001 profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Escareno 

      7 years ago


      Thanks ubanichijioke. That's very kind of you. Don't worry, I'm not finished writing reviews here for a while unless hubpages unexpectedly bans me from here. lol. (knock on wood). Anyway, thanks for stopping by, and i hope you enjoy the film whenever you get a chance to see it.

      @Peter Lumetta

      Your welcome and no problem. thanks for stopping by again Peter. :)

      @carl the critic

      Thanks Carl, and thanks again for replying to my status thing earlier. I was a bit depressed about a few things earlier, but I'm over it now. However, I appreciate the concern, as that was very nice of you to offer your support. I might take you up on it someday, but I should be fine for now. Thanks again, buddy. :)


      thanks gisele, I'm glad liked the review, and I hope you have a great time when you see the movie. :)


      Well I hope you like the movie then when you see it. Yeah, from the brief moments that Harrison Ford was a villain in this movie, I thought he was a lot more menacing than the aliens. In a lot of ways, I tend to agree with Roger Ebert in that this probably could have turned out to be a great Western if they had left out the alien part, as the elements were there in the beginning to make for a truly great story. However, for what it is though, I think "Cowboys & Aliens" is fairly decent though, as it's definitely a lot different than most movies that I've seen. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again Paradise, as it's always a joy to see you. :)


      Thanks Cogerson. I appreciate that a lot, and thanks again for your support. It'll definitely be interesting to see which film earns the highest rating in your 2011 movie hub. :)


      Well it certainly doesn't surprise that many would turn down a role in this movie, as I can imagine a lot of actors probably thought that it was too cheesy to be taken seriously. It's not the first time this happened, as I remember watching documentaries about how the same thing happened with Superman and the original Star Wars, as many people were skeptical about the films' long term success. However, I guess it only goes to show you how wrong skeptics can be sometimes, as I should know since I'm often one of those skeptics. lol.

      Anyway, it should be interesting to see how the film holds up after it's first weekend though, as I think that'll be the big test for it. Anyway, thanks for stopping by again, and sharing your thoughts with us. :)


      Yeah, your right about the predators, as I actually forgot about that until you brought it up. lol. I guess when it comes to aliens, I always tend to believe that the side that carries the superior technology always has an advantage over the less evolved culture. Kind of similar to how you wouldn't bet on a guy fighting with a bow and arrow; while the other guy he fights has a machine gun. It just doesn't make sense to me. Sorry,as you can tell, I tend to over analyze things sometimes. lol. Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts with us preacherdon, as it was a pleasure seeing you. :)

    • preacherdon profile image


      7 years ago from Arkansas

      Thanks, Steve, for the review. I was looking forward to this movie but maybe I'll wait until the DVD. I don't think the premise is too convoluted. If aliens could attack today, why couldn't they have attacked 100 years ago? Also, I think it would have been interesting to ask how would westerners have handled aliens. Of course, Favreau gave his cast an advantage with the wrist weapon. Per Predators, aliens did visit us during the Old West days.

    • smcopywrite profile image


      7 years ago from all over the web

      i love westerns and many people really want hollywood to get back to making some nice ones. however, the big money is in the special effects. i am looking forward to seeing this offshoot of two different successful film types combined.

      a lot of big names in hollywood turned away from this film because they were afraid of the title and they may be sorry they did.

      great review. thanks

    • Cogerson profile image


      7 years ago from Virginia

      Another solid review....I am so glad to see you say Harrison Ford is one of the better things about the movie....I do not think there are too many more action films for him.....voted up and useful.

    • Paradise7 profile image


      7 years ago from Upstate New York

      I'd like to rent it, just to see Harrison Ford do the bad guy for a change. Great review, as per usual! Thanks, Steven.

    • giselenmendez profile image


      7 years ago from Berlin, Germany

      I wanted to see this movie before reading this review. Now, I need to see it! Great Hub :)

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image


      7 years ago

      Nice job Steven, keep up good work.

    • PETER LUMETTA profile image


      7 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA

      Looks like fun to me, I want to see it, Thanks, Peter

    • ubanichijioke profile image

      Alexander Thandi Ubani 

      7 years ago from Lagos

      Great review. The film to me will be interesting. I sure will look for it. Cowboys versus Aliens may sound hahaha! But that is the more reason i wanna watch. Thanks for the review. Expecting more reviews from you. Keep it up


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