Universal Pictures / DreamWorks
“I don’t know much about boats, but I’d say that one’s upside down.”
A stranger stumbles into the desert town of Absolution with no memory of his past and a futuristic shackle around his wrist. With the help of mysterious beauty Ella and the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde, he finds himself leading an unlikely posse of cowboys, outlaws, and Apache warriors against a common enemy from beyond this world in an epic showdown for survival.
The first time I attempted to watch the sci-fi/western genre mash-up Cowboys & Aliens was with a gathering of friends one night; pizza and movie geeking and all that. We got maybe a quarter of the way in, and got bored with it. We moved on. Now that a couple of years have passed, I decided to revisit the movie that was really supposed to be made for geekity-geeks like myself, but seemed to have fallen short. So, I popped this into my media player one afternoon, and gave it a full watch. Does it still warrant a “meh” tag? Well, yes and no.
Aesthetically speaking, Cowboys & Aliens is a gorgeous film to look at. The wild west scenery, the sci-fi effects and the overall scope of the film is breathtaking and well-shot. Character wise, the actors in this were chosen well for their respective rolls: Daniel Craig as the amnesiac outlaw with a piece of alien tech attached to him, Olivia Wilde as the mysterious traveler, and Harrison Ford as Harrison Ford: Grumpy Cattle Barron. The secondary characters work well to bring the town of Absolution to life. And the story itself is a decent one: Aliens are abducting the good citizens of Absolution for…reasons, and the three main characters need to put their differences behind them and save the townfolk and defeat the alien invaders’ plot to exterminate all life on Earth for…reasons.
For all intents and purposes, Cowboys & Aliens should have ranked higher in the entertainment factor. But, here’s the thing…it’s a bit longish; it’s one of those movies that could have been trimmed down to a nicely tight 90 minutes. Unfortunately, the movie does seem to lag, as well as it doesn’t have a very well-defined antagonist, as with the script being a bit confusing at points.
Overall, Cowboys & Aliens is an ambitious movie that just comes off as boring in too many parts. There are some shiny parts–Harrison Ford is always awesome, and gets even more awesome with age–but overall, while not a bad movie by any means, it just doesn’t warrant any kind of re-watch quality, even if it’s the only thing on at the moment.