Movie: Cowboys & Aliens
Director: Jon Favreau
Stars: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde
Okay I did not really want to see this movie. Come on: Cowboys and Aliens? Really? Doesn’t that just sound like every bad B movie ever made? When I finally did hire it, I made sure everyone who was listening heard the words “well it’s not for me, it’s for the kids, it’s to review, there’s nothing else left in the store today.” And the video store owner kindly pretended he hadn’t heard any of it when, upon returning the movie, I gushed “that was awesome” in a tone that bore a disturbing resemblance to the one my kids use when coming off a roller coaster.
First of all, let’s be honest, with Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford headlining this one, it really couldn’t lose could it? I like Daniel Craig a lot as an actor despite being somewhat ambivalent about him as James Bond (too serious for me) and far from being wasted on this role, he made it work. As for Ford, I have long suspected the man could play the part of a guy reading the phone book and pull it off. Come on – does anyone really buy the idea of the President going from Air Force One to another plane via a cobbled together flying fox? No – except during those three seconds that Ford-as-President actually did it; in those three seconds, we bought it. And we didn’t hold it against him when the movie ended and the spell had worn off. So, Ford as the rough, tough, my-way-or-the-highway, town bully with a heart of (dusty) gold also worked. The combination of these two more than made up for the rare “oh please” moments in the film.
And to be honest -there were precious few of those moments. After all, if we accept the idea of people being abducted by aliens – even if only for the duration of the film – then why would this only occur from the mid 20th century? Adapted from Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s 2006 graphic novel of the same name, Cowboys & Aliens tells the story of Jake Lonergen (Craig), an amnesiac (being snatched by aliens will do that to you) who, with the help of Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford) and the msyterious and beautiful Ella Swanson (played by Olivia Wilde – possibly best remembered as Thirteen, Hugh Laurie’s foil for a while in the series House), has to try to save a group of townspeople from alien abduction. In good old fashioned Western tradition the local Indian tribe gets involved – they’re being abucted too – and everyone must join forces against a common enemy.
Yes it does sound all very far fetched and somewhat silly. It shouldn’t work. But it does. In no small part because the actors are just so damned good. You can’t help but get caught up in the story and the - I hate to say this but it’s true – fun of the adventure. Think Indiana Jones meets Star Wars. You can’t help cheering for the cowboys and booing the aliens and just generally having a good time.
There are some heavy duty producers behind the film too, which I’m sure went a long way to helping the finished product look a million miles from B-Grade, among them Ron Howard, and as executive producer Steven Spielberg.
If you haven’t seen it yet, get the kids, a bowl of popcorn, kill the lights and sit back and have some fun. You won’t be sorry.