*Warning! Extraordinarily minor spoilers ahead! Read at your own risk!*
I had a good feeling coming into Cowboys & Aliens.
As detailed in some of my previous posts, I found both the premise and the surprisingly straight-laced advertising campaign of the film to be provocative to my tastes.
I like cowboy movies.
I like alien movies.
A movie that slams both of genres together, while maintaining some semblance of seriousness should be the stuff of dreams, right?
Well, as it turns out, Cowboys & Aliens didn’t really live up to the sum of it’s (considerable) parts.
Despite a terrific cast, a solid premise, and one of the goofiest titles to a summer blockbuster this side of Snakes on a Plane, Cowboys & Aliens failed to be little more than “alright” in my eyes.
I won’t go into any details of the plot, but I will say this:
It’s predictable to the point in which a major character arc was spoiled for me IN THE TRAILERS, and there are more than a few moments towards the end that had me and my friend referencing Independence Day.
We also had a mutual flashback to Total Recall at one point, but that may have just been the 2 of us being weird… And dorky.
The first half is decent enough, with a slow burn sort of pacing that would lead you to believe the second half is going to have some sort of pay-off; only for the climax to come lurching into the view and offer absolutely zero sense of satisfaction to the audience.
Put it this way, if you’re looking for good action, or even aliens doing cool shit with cool toys; Cowboys & Aliens is not the movie for you.
Truth be told, that was probably one of my biggest issues with the movie:
The damn aliens turned out to be one trick ponies!
When you think aliens of the technologically advanced variety, inevitably one’s mind pictures them using said technology to their advantage.
While it made me happy to see that the aliens featured in the movie weren’t complete feebs like some of the “green men” of old, I gotta’ say, and this is only a minor spoiler, after watching an alien do his spear/chokeslam combo to a horse for the 50th time inside of 20 minutes, I started to get kind of bored.
Don’t get me wrong, I likes me some chokeslamming aliens as much as the next guy, but when that’s all they ever fucking do; well, it gets old.
There’s a reason a chokeslam is a finisher, and that’s because it has a lot more impact when it’s used to finish people as opposed to all the fucking time.
Long story short, if you saw a trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, congratulations; you’ve seen every fuckin’ trick the aliens have up their sleeves with the exception of spears and chokeslams.
That being said, it needs to be said that the acting of the movie were actually pretty good.
Then again, with a cast that consists of the likes of Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde, Toad Face, and ADAM FUCKING BEACH; it’s kind of hard to fuck up in the acting department.
Craig didn’t really bring anything to the table in terms of emotional weight or investment, but I gotta’ say; the man has the perfect silhouette for a Western.
Seriously man, I don’t know if he went to mime school or anything, but the way Daniel Craig hold’s his arms, the way he plants his feet just the right distance apart; he really just looks like a savage-ass cowboy hero.
Given the limitations of the script, it’s hard to say whether Craig could’ve done better in the role or not, but in all honesty; I think he did just fine looking the part if nothing else.
Moving on, Harrison Ford growled and scowled his way through the movie as kind of curmudgeonly old, post-war Indiana Jones.
He’s quite hammy throughout the film, though never pandering; but in his quieter moments, particularly with Toad Face and ADAM FUCKING BEACH, he manages to steal the show from time to time.
Outside of these 2, the rest of the cast was a little subdued, to the point of being kind of a let down.
Clancy Brown was more Mr. Krabs than The Kurgan, Olivia Wilde may as well have been window dressing, Toad Face was even uglier than he was in The Last Airbender, Sam Rockwell had a funny ad-lib here and there, but was unfortunately cast as a sniveling loser.
Despite this, ADAM FUCKING BEACH managed to have a few good moments, though many of them were squandered by him being cast (as tends to happen when you’re one of like 3 Natives in Hollywood) as the stereotypical “Spiritually Strong and Morally Pure Native Dude.”
A cowboy movie with stereotypes?
Surely you jest…
That being said, Cowboys & Aliens was far from a let down, but nowhere near as good as I would’ve hoped.
In general, the movie felt like it was rolling down a hill in neutral.
The action scenes were plainly choreographed and devoid of drama, largely amounting to scattered shots of cowboys shooting AT POINT BLANK RANGE, and aliens tackling them shortly thereafter.
By the way, make sure to pay attention to the number of cowboys featured in the finale, as personally; I found that I saw more cowboys die than they actually started out with.
Anyway, the movie was “alright,” but nowhere near The Valley of Gwangi in terms of cowboy vs. the monster of the week novelty.
Captain America totally kicked this movies’ ass…