Unilaterally Sarcastic, Dangerously Cheesy

Film Review – Cowboys & Aliens

I like mashup films. I think they’re great fun. One of the best times I had at the movies last years was with The Warrior’s Way or as it is affectionately referred to in most circles “Cowboys vs. Ninjas.” There’s nothing wrong with a little pulpy crossover action to waste some time at the theater. Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Iron Man helmer Jon Favreau, is an admirable effort that has many great components but fails to fit together to form a perfect overall picture. The cast is superb; Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Clancy Brown, Sam Rockwell, Walton effing Goggins…but a good majority of the material they’re given really doesn’t merit their involvement. The overall product is just too bland for its own good. It’s a summer blockbuster, so some level of pandering to the lowest common denominator is expected, but the truth is that at no point in the course of the film do they aim to do anything really memorable. I’m sure I’ll have forgotten most of the film by this time tomorrow which is why I’m writing the review now, basically thirty minutes after the credits started to roll.

Let me say what does work; Daniel Craig cuts a good figure as the classic “man with no name” archetype here, a testament to his screen presence elevating the material enough that we as an audience want to stick it through until the end. Harrison Ford is more lively and vivid here than he has been in years and it serves to remind us why at one point he was the biggest movie star in the world. Sam Rockwell being Sam Rockwell. He can do no wrong and here is no exception. Favreau must have had a hell of a time working with him on IronMan 2 to bring him back again for a role that’s especially meaty. Olivia Wilde’s eyes. Dear god. I know some people argue that she’s either the hottest woman on earth or a strange looking creature but I can’t get past her eyes. Cue drooling.

What doesn’t work is a little bit harder to nail down. The film has some pacing problems, bordering on dull on a few occasions. The action scenes are not especially fantastic or captivating. It’s really a case of the people in the cast not getting enough to do. I think a majority of the problems can be traced to the fact that the script has over five credited authors and that’s never the sign of a unified front when it comes to the narrative. It’s a hodge-podge at best. A well shot hodge-podge filled with some great talent, but still a hodge-podge.

And now in the hopes of driving some decent web-hits, I will populate the rest of the post with sexy photos of Olivia Wilde, because that seemed to help in previous posts.

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