Movie Review: Cowboys and Aliens

Let’s just take a moment to look at who’s involved in the making of COWBOYS AND ALIENS, shall we?

Here’s a partial list of the directors, actors and producers….
-Jon Favreau
-Harrison Ford
-Daniel Craig
-Olivia Wilde
-Sam Rockwell
-Paul Dano
-Brian Grazer
-Alex Kurtzman
-Roberto Orci
-Damon Lindelof
-Ron Howard
-Steven Spielberg

So why on earth is this film so boring, so predictable, so hum-drum? What went wrong? It’s a failure of cliche upon cliche. The first half of the film is a fine, albeit rote repetition of cowboy movies. Daniel Craig speaks nary a word for much of that first half, and understandably so — nothing really happens. He wakes in the desert, not knowing where he comes from or how he got there, but soon he sees that he is a wanted bank robber and fugitive. Can the mysterious Olivia Wilde help him remember???? Good heavens, I hope so.

Anyways, the film picks up after the aliens arrive, but only barely. Action scenes are completely predictable, and lead nowhere. The plot is just soooooo easy to see: enemies must unite against a common foe, the mean-spirited cattle ranchers are just misunderstood with past lives filled with hardship, and maybe–just maybe– if they work together, they can blow those aliens to hell.

I am at a loss to explain why this movie is as dull as it is. The actors do what they can, and act the hell out of what they’re given. But that’s just not enough to make COWBOYS AND ALIENS any good. I find it incredible that this roster of talent and pool of resources could churn out a film so by the numbers and unfulfilling. It’s a damned shame.

20 thoughts on “Movie Review: Cowboys and Aliens

  1. It really is a mystery. I haven’t seen it yet, and maybe I’ll leave it until video after hearing this kind of thing.

    I understand there was a rather enormous team of writers and producers hanging around the neck of this project. A situation like that can really drag a film down.

  2. It had all the hallmarks of being overedited and overwritten. It’s messy, a little confusing, and just not that great.

  3. This has been a really disappointing summer overall for movies. I still haven’t seen Captain America, and a British indie called Attack the Block is coming out later this summer that should be good. But other than this, it seems like the summer’s entertainment has ranged from “meh” to “terrible.”

  4. Am I just getting old and grumpy, or is Hollywood in a major, major funk the last 2 years or so. Movie after movie after movie that seems like they assigned everybody to work like heck on various assignments, but only when everybody came back with their respective finished products and they sent the result to the theaters did they realize, “oh crap–who was in charge of making sure this had a plot we care about?”

    “wait, I thought Fred was doing that?”

    “No man, Fred was in charge of the special effects for that one time a glass fell and broke really slowly.”

    “Oh. Whoops.”

  5. This is why indie films are so much better than Hollywood.

    It sounds like one I can watch on dvd with my boys and laugh uproariously as they mock it the entire time. Good stuff. Battle: Los Angeles was hilarious. I only wish I’d watched I Am Number Four and Skyline with them, too.

  6. Hollywood feature films are on the decline. They’re basically toy commercials. However, I also think I’m just getting older, and my inner thirteen year old boy is harder to reach.

    TV is where it’s at. Things have been trending that way for years. HBO, FX, Showtime and AMC offer much better entertainment.

  7. There’s a guy named Nolan who has been making pretty good movies lately and, lest we forget, Favreau has been doing a good job with the Iron Man franchise. Also, Thor was pretty good.

    Let’s not write Hollywood’s obituary just yet.

  8. I’d watch anything Nolan puts out right now. I think Favreau hit it out of the park with the first Iron Man but struggled with the second. Thor was not very exciting/funny/entertaining.

    We really need Hollywood to start taking some chances.

  9. I was really disappointed in Super 8 as well. I would still watch anything Abrams wants to make though.

  10. Captain America was pretty good. Rote, sure, but really pretty good nonetheless. Like The Rocketeer only with familiar Marvel characters.

  11. Too bad. I’d been hearing good things about this one.

    Captain America’s first half was good. But it wasn’t great. I’m trying to think of the last great flick I saw – i.e. one I’d want to see over and over. It’s been a while and probably is a Nolan film.

  12. For me, it’s probably Inception, if we’re talking about a big Hollywood film. I’ve seen a lot of small indies that I’ve liked.

  13. Consider Wild Wild West (1999)

    Will Smith
    Kenneth Branagh
    Kevin Kline
    Salma Hayek

    Maybe the world’s not ready for SciFi/Western. (Alas, Brisco County, Jr.!) Ok, but I liked Wild Wild West in a cheesy sort of way, so maybe I’d like C&A.

  14. We just watched Source Code on DVD and enjoyed it. Way better than I thought it’d be. But it was done by the director of Moon (who also is David Bowie’s son), one of my favorite recent movies–an indie of course. Check it out if you haven’t already. It’s one I can watch again and again.

    Inception was cool but too annoying for me to want to watch over and over. I hate how Hollywood thinks they have to explain everything. Inception had a whole character exist just to be able to explain stuff. I liked that Source Code was sort of ambiguous at the end about what the results of everything were.

  15. Scripts are always the least valuable commodity in Hollywood. There’s a lot of good writing out there but of late it has primarily been on serial series on cable. There’s little good writing on the main networks and definitely little in the blockbuster category.

    When a movie does manage to have a good script it’s because the producers have largely gotten out of the way of a director. But I don’t think Hollywood knows how they are destroying themselves with their current business plan. Yes in the short term they are making money – but will it continue? (And when they begin to lose money they’ll blame it on computer pirates I’m sure rather than a poor product – much like the music business did)

  16. “When a movie does manage to have a good script it’s because the producers have largely gotten out of the way of a director.”

    Except the director usually has nothing to do with the script, and is often hired after the script is written.

  17. Let me rephrase that – the biggest problem in Hollywood is typically producers, not directors or even necessarily screen writers. (Even good screenwriters can produce crap given the constraints of the producers)

  18. HP 7.2 was the only movie I was satisfied with so far this summer. Even the kids fare (Kung Fu Panda 2 and Cars 2 in our case) seemed disappointing.

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