Cowboys and AliensDirector: Jon Favreau, Universal Pictures, Rated M, 118 mins
Iron Man director Jon Favreau has combined two completely opposite genres for his captivating new release of Cowboys and Aliens, loosly-based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s graphic novel of the same name. He also had such renowned filmmakers as Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg as part of his production team.
The concept of having a sci-fi story intertwined within a western is certainly different and unique but Favreau still manages to pull it off due to a series of entertaining action sequences, a good cast and some great CGI effects.
The movie has an intriguing beginning with a cowboy, later identified as Jake Lonergan (James Bond’s Daniel Craig) waking up in the desert and finding an unknown metallic device on his wrist.
After dispensing with a bunch of attacking cowboys he soon comes across the frontier town of Absolution where he confronts the unruly cowboy Percy (Paul Dano), the drunken son of local kingpin Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde (Indiana Jones’ Harrison Ford) and sheriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine) that ends up in both (Jake and Percy) being imprisoned – at the same time as alien spacecraft start blasting the town.
With one of the blasts setting him free, Jake witnesses the spaceships lassoing a number of townspeople into the air.
As Jake flees from one particular craft his wrist device suddenly lights up and causes the alien ship to crash.
With so many people abducted by the aliens, Jake and Dolarhyde decide to go after them and form a posse that includes Doc (Moon’s Sam Rockwell) and Ella (Tron Legacy’s Olivia Wilde) a mysterious woman who holds the key to Jake’s past and the alien attack.
Despite a somewhat convoluted plot there is much to enjoy in this sci-fi western, especially from the performances of Craig, Ford and Wilde - with Craig doing most of the heroic action scenes and the 69-year-old Ford assisting with his gun or spear while Wilde provides the woman’s touch in deterring the aliens.
Even though some may find this mixture of genres unusual it certainly does not detract from a thoroughly enjoyable movie that takes place against a western background and is laced with Spielberg’s speciality of alien ingredients.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 ½ Rubber Stamp
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