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Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

Josh Reviews Cowboys and Aliens

August 17th, 2011

Despite the silly title, I had pretty high hopes for Cowboys and Aliens.  The idea of uniting Daniel Craig (James Bond) and Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones/Han Solo) is genius, and the film boasted a strong supporting cast, a solid director (Jon Favreau, who directed the magnificent first Iron Man film), and the trailer boasted of some nifty special effects and fun sci-fi action.

But in the end, I was disappointed.  Cowboys and Aliens isn’t terrible, but it’s pretty mediocre.  Though Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman have a great eye for material (they have been involved with a number of geek properties that interest me, including Star Trek and Transformers) and they seem like nice fellows, I have not liked any of the scripts that they have written.  And I’m starting to wonder if I haven’t over-estimated Jon Favreau in my mind.  He’s a terrific actor and a very funny guy, but in the end he’s really only directed one film (the first Iron Man) that I’ve really loved.

The main problem with Cowboys and Aliens is that the movie has no teeth.  The first 20-25 minutes promise us a confrontation between two tough bad-asses, Craid and Ford, in the midst of some crazy sci-fi mayhem, but that never comes. 

The opening scene to the film is terrific, and it immediately establishes Daniel Craig’s character as a dangerous, kick-ass dude.  We open the film at the moment that Daniel Craig wakes up, in the middle of the desert, with a bizarre technological device attached to his wrist, and no memory of how it got there or of any events that happened before he woke up.  He can’t even remember his own game.  Moments later, some tough guys find him and threaten to kill him, but in a quick, brutal action scene, Craig wipes them out.  It’s a great set-up to his character, and a terrific way to open the movie.

We then spend a while hearing about Harrison Ford’s character, Colonel Dolarhyde (but don’t call him Colonel!).  He is built up as a man to be feared, and when we finally meet him in the flesh, we see Dolarhyde mercilessly torturing an unfortunate soul who Dolarhyde believes has betrayed him. 

We all know that these two characters are on a collision course, and when the sci-fi menace (that we know is coming) rears its ugly head, I was excited to see these two take-no-prisoners mean bastards, played by two movie icons, collide with one another. 

That would have been an awesome movie!!  But that’s not at all what we got.  The film immediately backs off from the toughness of those two characters, and quickly shows us that they’re both really softies … [continued]