It’s never a good sign when there are seven writers credited to a movie, such is the case with Cowboys & Aliens.
One of those writers is Steve Oedekerk who wrote Evan Almighty, Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius, Nutty Professor II as well as others, an unusual choice for a movie such as this.
Jon Favreau directs, you might remember him as the director of Iron Man 1 & 2 as well as playing the character Hogan from the same, whilst Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford act.
I’m not familiar with the original source material, the film is based on a 2006 graphic novel written by Fred Van Lente & Andrew Foley and drawn by Dennis Calero & Luciano Lima. This in turn was based on a 1989 original screenplay written by David Reskin and David Chute as well as a 2002 graphic novel written by Tom Arvis. This means I can’t comment on if they have kept close to the original source or if they’ve just freely mangled it.
Now I like cowboy movies, and I usually like alien movies, so the two together should be awesome right? Well sadly not.
Craig says about three words in the entire film, Ford doesn’t say much more, both just say the occasional ‘phrase’, as if the expectation is that people are going to be quoting these for years to come, the same is true for most of the dialogue.
The aliens themselves look good, nasty tall, bug-eyed things, and the cinematography is nice as is the music which is done by a personal favourite of mine Harry Gregson-Williams.
However, the rest of the movie is mostly a disappointment. As mentioned, dialogue is clunky, characters other than Craig’s don’t develop, Olivia Wilde once again plays eye-candy (see Tron Legacy for more) which is a shame as she was good in House but is in danger of ruining her film career before it’s really started if she keeps making these sorts of choices.
The story basically follows that Craig, the good guy, wakes in the desert with no memory but a strange ‘bracelet’ on his wrist. It’s quickly established he can kick ass and has no issues killing, a bit more good guy stuff before, shock-horror, it turns out he’s a bandit.
Flashbacks tell the rest of his story whilst Olivia Wilde sticks out like a sore thumb in the smallest town with mostly men, she also manages to stay remarkably clean throughout, this is desert don’t forget.
Ford is the bad guy who turns good at the end, there’s some Indians that make an appearance as well as some good ol’ fashioned bandits.
I don’t mind mindless films, switch your brain off and be entertained, but Cowboy’s & Aliens doesn’t even achieve this.
A movie title that held such promise but, sadly, a movie that misses the mark.