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Indy and Bond vs. ET [SPOILERS]

I got up early on Saturday to head out to see Cowboys and Aliens. The buzz from Comic-Con hooked me on the idea of Indiana Jones and James Bond vs. ET. The story is as follows: a man (Daniel Craig) with no memory and a strange bracelet wakes up not far from the cattle town of Absolution, AZ. He is skilled at fighting and at handling a gun, but he has no memory of who he is and how he came to be in the middle of the desert. When he arrives in the town, he meets a preacher named Meacham (Clancy Brown from The Shawshank Redemption and Starship Troopers), who helps our main character get cleaned up and provides some medical attention to a strange wound sustained not long ago. Our mystery man draws attention to himself when he helps the local saloon keeper, Doc (played by the outstanding Sam Rockwell) with the local “I can do whatever I want because my daddy’s rich”, Percy Dolarhyde (played by Paul Dano of There Will Be Blood). As an aside, what is it with characters named Percy?

It turns out that our main character is a wanted man named Jake Lonergan and he is wanted by more than just the law. Percy’s daddy, Woodrow Dolarhyde (played by the mumble-y Harrison Ford), has been looking for Lonergan to answer for some missing gold.  Lonergan is apprehended thanks to the assistance of the mysterious Ella Swenson (played by Olivia Wilde from Tron: Legacy)

Then all hell breaks loose when the town is attacked by, well… aliens. Aliens attack the town in quick flying ships that blow up half of the town and steal quite a few people in the process, including Percy and Doc’s wife. Lonergan’s bracelet shows signs of life and he quickly figures out that it is a weapon.  In the aftermath, it is decided that Lonergan will accompany the party that sets out to retrieve those taken from the town.

The Good, the Bad, and the Unexpected:

The Good:

Director Jon Favreau knows how to give the audience action. The action scenes are great. The idea of cowboys and their rifles and six-shooters against aliens with energy weapons is cool and there are a high number of casualties as you would expect.

The Bad:

The dialogue is sparse and the characters are underdeveloped. There isn’t much of a reason to care about them, as most of them are either horrible people or annoying. Also falling under the bad category is Emmett Taggart (played by Noah Ringer from The Last Airbender) (see the previous annoying comment). The final bad thing about this one is there was not nearly enough Sam Rockwell!

The unexpected:

There was a moment in the film that made me sigh aloud and nearly give up on the film. Without giving any major plot spoilers, it takes place in a Native American camp. I did not expect such a convenient plot device in a movie that up until that point had been pretty much a western plus aliens.

Also unexpected, but not in a bad way, was the fact that those involved in this film did hold true to the Western aspect of this film. The major themes of redemption carry this one to the very end.

Cowboys and Aliens
is not a great film and for those that do not like Westerns, they may even say that it is not even a good film. Between this and The Smurfs, this was not a bad way to spend a couple hours. I’m not sure that it will make it into my Blu Ray collection (especially since my wife HATED it), but it was a decent ride.

How much would I pay to see this one again? Out of $10, I would pay $4.00. Maybe $5.00 if a Western loving friend asked me to see it with them.

Jay Fralick is the co-host of the Wanna Watch a Movie? Podcast and blog

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  1. Brandon says:

    I am intrigued to see this film however I have strong reservations against Harrison Ford. My friend says he’s not in the film that much. I guess I will wait for it on Netflix.

  2. Scott says:

    I liked this film just fine. Sure, some of it was hokey and obvious, but at least it wasn’t Super 8. THAT was a real toilet rocker.

  3. gigdrummer says:

    Don’t waste your money on this. Biggest waste of film since Grease 2. Acting was terrible, story sucked, had holes in the plot big enough to drive a truck through. Major disappointment.

  4. gigdrummer says:

    Don’t waste your money on this. Biggest waste of film since Grease 2. Acting was terrible, story sucked, had holes in the plot big enough to drive a truck through. Major disapointment.

  5. Jared says:

    If I know what you’re talking about during the campfire scene, I called it when I first saw the trailer. still a great movie, definitely felt like it hit all the western cliche’s but that’s alright because that’s not a bad thing since this movie was interesting enough to stick around for.

  6. Nathaniel H. says:

    Gotta throw in my two cents here… I say this is one movie to see in the theatre. That has a lot to do with the fact that I won’t be seeing it again on DVD anytime soon, but it’s a fun ride and it gets my approval.

    And yeah, Nick, that’s no nude scene. I’ve always found Hollywood’s fear of nudity and use of implied nudity instead hilarious.

  7. murphybrainz says:

    “Clancy Brown from The Shawshank Redemption and Starship Troopers”

    You forgot his most important role… Eugene Krabs.

  8. Nick says:

    Just to screw with your review, I don’t like westerns that much, but I did enjoy this movie. I think expectations drive the joy that people derive from most movies. I did not expect much, I mean the title itself is telling you it’s going to mash two different genres together. I would not expect someone to do that extremely well anyways.

    The only thing that dissapointed me was from the AOTS review from Chris Gore that said there was a nude scene from Olivia Wilde which is fucking ridiculous. I would never tell anyone that’s a nude scene, but that’s just my perverted sensibility.

  9. Magnoliafan says:

    This flick started out really strong and I was into it for about the first 35 mins or so. I was hoping they would keep with the whole man with no name vibe but the more we learn about the lead character the less interesting he became. After the first act, it just got steadily worse and it began to feel like a western version of Battle Los Angeles.

    This the first time in a looooong time that Harrison Ford didn’t completely bore me to tears. I mean the whole cast is great and it’s such a shame he couldn’t do more with actors like Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Clancy Brown, and David O’Hara.

    I keep hearing Attack the Block is a lot of fun so I’m definitely got that one on my list.

  10. KayTee says:

    If you want to see a good alien flick this summer, catch Edgar Wright-produced “Attack the Block”.

  11. Lucy says:

    I feel compelled to add Cowboy Bebop and Outlaw Star as alternative space western-ish entertainment.

  12. Dr.B says:

    So happy to read this! Out of dedication to the ‘space-western’ genre that our beloved Firefly begat, I was considering paying $10 to see “Cowboys and Aliens”. (Brief aside – could there be a LESS creative title?) Now I will avoid being thoroughly disgusted by knowing it could have been done better, and indeed already has been. Save your money, folks… go buy a copy of Serenity or the Firefly box set instead.