Cowboys and Aliens? More like Cowboys and FAILiens.
Okay, I should have been suspicious from the start. Anytime a studio rejects a Drew Struzan poster, the project is doomed to failure. It’s almost like they knew they weren’t good enough for this artwork, and didn’t want to get people’s hopes up. But these days I’ve got a lot of faith in director Jon Favreau (Iron Man), so excitement won out. I was looking forward to Cowboys and Aliens on a level usually reserved for the best of big summer comic book movies.
Truth be told, even beyond the inferior poster choice, there are a lot of warning signs here. There are a lot of good movies based on comic books, but this one is based on a comic which is itself based on an unproduced screenplay. The film, all told, has seven credited writers. The trailers revealed nothing about the plot (although I can’t say I blame them). Instead they preyed solely on my interest in bizarre crossovers (please make Spiders vs. Dinosaurs next) and correctly assumed that my curiosity would get the better of me.
Really I don’t even find myself with a lot to say about the film, as I was generally just bored after the first five minutes or so. So I’m just gonna break this down into a simple pros and cons list, and then you can decide for yourself whether you go see this or the CGI Smurfs movie.
-Daniel Craig effortlessly beats up a lot of dudes. Really though you can see this in almost any movie he’s made, most of them way better.
-Harrison Ford is an awesome crotchety old man, and still comes across as legitimately tough without much effort. I just hope he’s in another movie as good as he is while there’s still time. Let’s be honest, it’s been a while.
-On behalf of my girlfriend, I’ll add for the ladies that Daniel Craig’s shirt removal contract is in full effect.
-Occasionally there were some decent jokes. In retrospect they probably should have amped that up and played the whole thing for comedy. Might have worked better.
-Third act plot turns made me suspicious that M. Night Shyamalan was ghost writing. But that’s ridiculous, nobody would let him do that. Even with seven other writers.
-Terrible, terrible creature design. This is why building a suit or an animatronic creature is always going to be better. You can get crazy with it, but your monsters are always going to look grounded in reality. These aliens were just a jumbled mess of four or five different ideas, a Michael Bay fever dream.
–Paul Dano. Am I the only one that can’t stand this guy? I generally like the movies he’s in, but feel like I’d always enjoy them more with a different actor. Guy just gives me the wiggins.
-Outside of Craig and Ford, literally every part in this movie is a cookie cutter western stereotype. It was like Young Guns but less charming. I seriously expected Doc Holliday or Wild Bill Hickok to show up and battle the alien menace, then maybe later there could be a scene where someone stood in the middle of town and threatened an innocent bystander by shooting at their feet. Oh wait, that last one actually happened.