There is something to be said for having a really straight-forward idea. “This is just a movie about cowboys and aliens.” I like it! There’s an honesty to it that is refreshing, and I know that it’s grandiose and even a little silly to describe a movie like Cowboys and Aliens as “honest,” but you know what I mean. It’s all right there. It isn’t gussied up or concealed, it doesn’t tell you it’s going to be one thing and then turn out to be another. (Although there were those stories a few months ago when the movie was still in the test screening phase where I guess audiences were upset because the name suggested to them that this was going to be a funny movie and when it turned out that the movie was not funny they were disappointed and also confused. But maybe we can all just agree that those people are idiots? Because come ON. Even if you did go into this movie expecting it to be funny, when it was very clear in the first five minutes that the movie wasn’t funny wouldn’t you be able to kind of roll with it? “OK, not funny. Got it.” Or am I the weird one and you would spend the next two hours thinking “there are NOT very many laughs in this romantic comedy”?) Of course, whether or not the movie is straight-forward and honest, and whether it’s a comedy or a drama, the more important question ultimately becomes “was the movie any good?” and that question, at least as it pertains to Cowboys and Aliens, is a little harder to figure out. But let’s try:

The first half hour of Cowboys and Aliens is GREAT! It’s really beautifully shot and I love a good western and also Daniel Craig. DANIEL CRAIG! Holy moly. I could watch him lackadaisically punch the phone book in the face and be entertained. Very good recalcitrant hero. Another thing that’s really enjoyable about this movie, or at least the first half hour of this movie, is how it just gets on with it already. Do you know what I mean? There is not what seems to have become a summer adventure movie pre-requisite of 30 minutes of characters mapping out what the reality of this world is all about in a way that is so boring it makes you feel crazy. He’s a cowboy. These are the cowboys. Whoops, here come the aliens. The end. That is just very smart. We want to see a movie not a LECTURE, Professor Hollywood.

If there is one downside to the first half hour of Cowboys and Aliens I would say that it’s the way in which everyone seems like they’re not so much acting in an authentic period piece so much as putting on a three-minute interstitial play in the shopping district of the Adventureland section of Disney World. Everyone just seems so ’90s, LOL. It’s not the end of the world, and it’s either better or at least just as bad as everyone doing terrible fake accents, but it was also for sure noticeable and just kind of off. But like I said, GREAT first half hour.

Then there’s the rest of it.

I don’t know. I kind of liked that the aliens just wanted gold. Haha. Sure. “Gold is just as precious to them as it is to you.” Wait, how precious is it to us? I mean, I know it’s kind of precious, but it seems REALLY precious to the aliens. But how long as that final action sequence? I think it was three quarters of the movie. It was endless! And it made no sense! Like, when you first see them riding up to Space Mountain there are what, 50 dudes? Let’s say there are 50 dudes. Then, for the next hour and a half you just see dudes getting slaughtered left and right. But when all is said and done there are still just about 50 dudes? How does that math work out? It also has one of those Final Boss Action Movie Fight Scene Logic Boards that I really cannot stomach which is where people are shooting their guns and nothing seems to be working and they’re back against the ropes, and then they look each other in the eye and rally their emotional courage for one last stand, and now all of a sudden their guns totally work? No. Either the guns work or the guns do not work, but the guns cannot work just because Harrison Ford added an Indian to his MySpace Top 8.

Speaking of Harrison Ford: let’s talk about Harrison Ford for a second.

What was up with Harrison Ford? At the beginning of the movie he was evil and that already was kind of problematic. Not because he’s not allowed to stretch himself as an actor (hahaha, it’s almost crazy how much everyone in Cowboys and Aliens stretched themselves as actors) but just because, well, maybe he isn’t allowed to stretch himself as an actor. When you see his face you want to root for him, but now he is drawing and quartering people and barking at them in an almost ludicrously gruff voice? Aww. Harrison Ford, are you OK? What’s the matter, buddy? Even more problematic, however, is how he just turns out to be a nice guy at the end. Like, I guess they supposedly showed him being humbled a couple of times, maybe, but the transition seemed pretty smooth and painless and unaccounted for if you ask me. (And if you didn’t ask me, that is still my opinion. You’re welcome.)

Hi, Walton Goggins!

I love you, Walton Goggins!

Considering how enjoyable the first half hour was, and I really did enjoy it, it was too bad to watch all that good will disappear in a hazy cloud of endlessly kicked up dust. (Do not even get me started on the Olivia Wilde character. Seriously this time, don’t. We start talking about her and the whole thing falls apart.) The spaceship explosion at the end looked really cool? Which is impressive considering how many movie explosions we’ve all seen by now? I’m trying to be generous here, but man, that last hour and a half of horses running around so fucking much and aliens jumping out of the scrub brush and also aliens who carry revenge in their hearts and a magical bracelet controlled by kissing. It was exhausting!

Cowboys and Aliens and Enough Already. Oh well. We will always have that first half hour. Throw the rest on the fire, and if it comes back to life, throw a dirty blanket on it and strap a bomb to its chest and send it up the hairy ice tunnel. KABOOM!

Comments (40)
  1. “We start talking about her and the whole thing falls apart.” So did the movie.

    • I believe that was what he was going for there.

      • I meant that for both sides of the equation. The revelation of her backstory is the marker for the movie going downhill.

        …That is probably what Gabe meant as well. I am an idiot.

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          @@@@“Enough is enough! I have had it with these motherfucking aliens fighting these motherfucking cowboys!”

    • Also, is it me, or is Harrison Ford just a terrible actor nowadays? I think the gruff voice is the only thing he has in his bag of tricks. P.S. Look at his filmography over the last 15 years if you want to cry.

  2. I don’t think people expected it to be a comedy so much as a “comedy,” as if the studio had spent millions of dollars on this idea just to be ironic. Kind of the cinematic equivalent of getting a Nickelback tattoo.

  3. Kind of killed it for me when she came out of the fire, or whatever. But at least she still died, hah. I really liked it, and kind of dealt with any flaws (i.e. terrible dialogue–like when the Indian guy goes, “the tracks are washing away!” when it’s raining. Seriously dude?) by thinking ok, well it is a cowboy movie. what was I expecting. ha.

    anyway daniel craig is awesome in a way that simultaneously makes me want to be him and jump his bones. wow he is a badass in this movie. andalsoreallyhot.

    the one thing that consistently bothered me was the lack of a realistic acknowledgment of the way women were viewed/treated at this point in herstory but hey. this is kind of an alternate reality as opposed to actual herstory so whatever, i got over it.


      um also I thought that it was weirdly paced or not continuous or something, cause I kept forgetting about the aliens for the first hour, haha. and also harrison ford was far too blustery–if he was gonna be bad he shoulda just been regular surly harrison ford and not be all yelling at the indians and shit.
      but anyway. blah blah blah

    • I am enjoying the idea that it even remotely occurred to you to look for “a realistic acknowledgment of the way women were viewed/treated” in a movie titled “Cowboys and Aliens.”

      • well i thought it was weird cause at one point dude’s like ‘yeah we got a dog and a kid with us, why not a woman ._.’
        so i mean he kind of said something about it but then sissy bartender’s wife is like THIS IS OUR DREAM. and yeah i’m kind of struggling to speak english today but the idea that marriages were for love/the man and wife were on equal footing just struck me as particularly laughable. Along with Olivia Wilde runnin’ around carrying a gun and riding horses and whatnot and where was the man that was supposed to be keeping tabs on her anyway?!


  4. Don’t blame me. I voted for Crazy, Stupid, Love.

    (also, please nobody go back and check to see what I voted for).

  5. it makes me said because i have a very large crush on olivia wilde but both Tron and this movie make it very hard to continue that…..

  6. Can we talk about Crazy Stupid Love instead? I know it’s kind of against the rules, but I saw yesterday and actually kind of pretty much liked it. It was definitely not perfect, but it was funny and cute and:


  7. more like Crazy Stupid UNF, amirite?
    (I didn’t see either of these movies :( )

  8. Yeah, this was completely ridiculous and nonsensical, but it was still entertaining as all get out. And Harrison Ford, is still Awesome.

  9. i started laughing out loud at the end when Harrison Ford was giving Daniel Craig “the look” when the ship blew up. Laughing maniacally. People were staring. Because this is all I was thinking: “I’m sure Luke wasn’t on that thing when it blew.” And then the Ewok-esque cheering? It was too much. Too much Death Star II.

  10. Important servicey movie announcement:

    Attack the Block was amazing, trust. We should be playing FIFA. Innit? Chav speak, etc.

  11. No one has yet mentioned the creepy gooey Gollum alien arms, because in space, aliens have a backup set of arms because arms are IMPORTANT, duh, and it’s good to have some spares! This film completed me in a Jerry Maguireish way, and by that I mean, Renee Zellweger KNOWS that Jerry Maguire is a douchebag by the end but loves him just as much because she wanted to love him just that much, you know?

    Similarly, even when the dialogue was being silly and all the humans’ problems were solved by GETTING HIGH and Olivia Wilde, it just made me love this movie all the more.

    Also, so Olivia Wilde can regenerate herself with fire, right? So basically the ship explodes in a fireball, so she regenerated, but then fell at least 300 feet to the ground, so whoopsies, dead again, but really all Daniel Craig has to do is find her dead body on the cliffs, set it on fire again, and then SEQUEL!

    • I figured the aliens’ outer parts were really a shell/biosuit sort of thing and their gooey arms were part of their actual bodies. BUT they coulda just been backup arms, I’m not entirely sure!

    • Oh right, it could totally have been an exoskeleton! Either way, thanks for giving me nightmares, Lost writing staff! Speaking of Lost wasn’t it weird to see the guy from the hatch who pushed the button with Desmond running around in the Old West and not pushing any buttons?

    • Also weird to see: nobody questioning why Olivia Wilde was running around unchaperoned. After reading Lonesome Dove, I just assume she was undercover working as the town whore, but I am pretty sure in the Old West if that is your job, they just refer to you “the hoooore” instead of your actual name.

  12. Why is my comment awaiting moderation? Is it TOO great?

  13. Can Daniel Craig play every role? Think how good Captain America would have been like with him instead of Chris “I’m kind of a douche” Evans.

    This character makes every movie better.

    Sorry I saw Captain America this weekend and wish I had seen the first 30 mins of Cowboys & Aliens instead.

  14. I watched a marathon of the Aussie version of “Wilfred” this weekend on IFC instead, and I’m very happy with that decision now.

  15. Lets talk about my experience seeing this movie. Right before the aliens show up for the first time all the power in the theater goes out for 5 minutes. The movie probably picks up three minutes later, well into the first action scene, five minutes pass and the film rewinds itself to ten seconds before the film picked up again. THEN the power dies about an hour later, while they’re still traveling to whatever happens during the climax. The power is permanently out and i get some free movie voucher. This FUCKING BLEW. I understand you may think the movie sucked, but film blue balls is like the worst thing aside from real blue balls.

  16. Um, I saw Winnie the Pooh this weekend. And it was great!

    The short at the beginning about Nessy in the Lach was fantastic!


  17. Walton Goggins!!!! Yes! He’s so good and so nice. Loved him in “The Shield”.

  18. I think Harrison Ford clearly struggled to find the true feel of a cowboy hat wearing guy in a movie about aliens, without the crystal skulls to guide him.

    This movie would have been way better with crystal skulls.

    And a refrigerator.

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