Cowboys & Aliens

Rated PG-13 118 min. 2011

Cowboys & Aliens may not be everything it could have been, but for a movie boasting six credited writers and sixteen producers, executive producers, associate producers, and co-producers, it’s better than it has any right to be. What we have is a hybrid of B-Western and B-sci-fi. That’s not entirely a new concept. Sci-fi elements, and even more horror ones, have crept into Westerns for a very long time. Of course, these days all this sort of thing has to be gussied up. Now, that’s something that works better with the Western end of things than it does with the sci-fi one. There’s only so much you can do to tart up a Western and leave the basic elements in place. The sci-fi aspect of the film works most of the time in the earlier parts of the film where the elements are more limited. Conceptually, we have what have been referred to as bug-eyed monsters of the old school sci-fi realm, and the design of the monsters is mostly in keeping with that. But then the temptations of CGI start to kick in later in the film. I have no qualms about the special effects being improved on even when Cowboys & Aliens turns into a big budget variant on William Cameron Menzies’ Invaders from Mars, which is what the film’s final act essentially is. I’m good with the impressiveness of the settings. But our bug-eyed monsters quickly succumb to scurrying about in the same ho-hum manner of all CGI aliens and monsters in general. However, this almost feels like carping when the overall movie is this much fun. The committee-created screenplay is at least straightforward, appropriately cliched, and agreeably kind of dumb — like the sort of thing that inspired it. The basic idea of an alien invasion in the Wild West is amusing, and the idea of an alien gold rush mentality somewhat more so. The Western tropes all work. And they work in part because they’ve always worked. It helps, of course, that the film is so well cast. That’s one of the good things about a big production: It can afford the best cast money can buy. And in this case, it bought a perfectly chosen one.

Film Credits

Official Site: www.cowboysandaliensmovie.com

Director: Jon Favreau

Writer: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby

Producer: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg

Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano and Noah Ringer

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Cowboys & Aliens

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