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Cowboys & Aliens Review

Dinah's Rating: 5/10 Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.0/10 (6 reviews total) If the most memorable part of your cinematic experience is watching the previews ahead of the movie you went to see, chances are you’ve seen Cowboys & Aliens or something just like it. Jon Favreau, director of Elf and Iron Man, fails to create a memorable film respectful to its mashed-up genres or the top-billed stars that parrot the basic dialogue. Daniel Craig plays his role to a hilt, but with a supporting cast of poorly written characters and half-hearted performances, Cowboys & Aliens gets hogtied. Based on a comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, this story follows Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford as hard men of dusty Arizona circa 1873 who do battle with aliens bent on taking over the earth. Craig is the man with no name and no memory. He wakes up near the town of Absolution where he immediately draws suspicion from the locals. The town is overseen by an old-timer with a bad attitude played by a snarling Ford. Of course, the stranger they beat the crap out of in the beginning of the movie is the only one who can save them when the UFOs land in their town and start snatching their women, children, horses, and hogs.  To cut straight to the chase, the aliens are pretty awesome but the cowboys are blah. Craig brings his steely blue-eyed gaze, rock-hard body and slightly awkward American accent to his character Jake Lonergan. He is funny, though with a subtlety Robert Downey Jr. never would have pulled off if he had been cast. He does not use a Western accent, which greatly annoyed me. Only the supporting cas,t including a wonderful bit from Walton Goggins, bothered to offer a drawl. The veteran Ford shows his age in a bad way. He phoned in his performance with kitschy mannerisms. Unlike Craig, Ford adds no flair to the poorly written character he is stuck with. Similarly, Olivia Wilde and child actor Noah Ringer (star of The Last Airbender which shouldn't shock you) are wooden, wide-eyed and terrible. There are plot holes aplenty, which make for a good eye-roll exercise. The thrown-in plot contrivances, including a band of Indians who selectively speak English, Jake Lonergan’s oddly multiplying old posse and an alien with a grudge, are groan inducing. But the greatest insult is the redundant action, especially in the grand finale. The poorly drawn characters and silly dialogue including many last-word deaths in the midst of battle are enough to put a seasoned action movie fan over the edge. The saving grace is the alien creature design (though their motivation was poorly executed). Cowboys & Aliens was not the quality filmmaking or motion picture experience it should have been. The characters were weak even in the hands of a capable cast, the plot contrivances were dated and clichéd, and the special effects completely lackluster. The good news for most movie fans is that the entire theater I viewed this movie with (including a screaming baby, a couple people regularly on their cell phones, a family with their legs hanging over others’ seats, and some elementary school kid who happily kicked my seat enjoyed this tired flick enough to clap at the end. Save your unemployment benefits and catch this on DVD; you can make a drinking game out of the number of plot holes. Speaking of, hear the rest of the Player Affinity Movie staff sound off on Cowboys & Aliens among other films this Tuesday on Episode 17 of The Plot Hole, our weekly movie podcast. Rating: 5.0/10 Cowboys & Aliens Directed by Jon Favreau Written by Robert Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde Other Player Affinity Reviews Julian thought: "The title sounds like a comedy, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, this mixture of gun-slinging cowboys and resource-hunting aliens (When aren’t aliens hunting for resources nowadays?) packs little bark when it comes to the humor and even less bite when you’re talking about the thrills and action. For whatever reason, Favreau doesn’t seem to having much fun with “Cowboys,” opting for much less self-awareness and laughs than he usually does. Craig is merely adequate in the leading role as an outlaw who’s forgotten his past and Ford makes a collect call for his performance while doing his best impersonation of Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino with his voice. Olivia Wilde smartly plays off of her surroundings to make something slightly memorable of her basic love interest character, and Noah Ringer, while not necessarily terrific, proves that The Last Airbender was a fluke. In the end, the writing is to blame for the film’s faults. The plot provides an easy gateway for tongue-in-cheek moments but doesn’t capitalize on them. The worst thing, though, is that there’s no reason to care about what happens to these cowboys and aliens by the time it’s all thankfully over." Rating: 4.5/10 Steven thought: "The answer to the obvious question hovering around Jon Favreau’s latest action blockbuster is yes, Cowboys & Aliens is as ridiculous as the title sounds. Yet blame doesn’t quite belong on Favreau’s shoulders or that of Craig or the rest of the cast; rather, the failure of this alien-infested Western results from the domino effect of the countless studios and producers who put their faith (and money) in a concept rather than a story. It all stems from a story with lackluster characters equipped with cliché motivations. Despite some cool aliens and strong direction, the action doesn’t offer anything unique enough to counter that we’ve no reason to care. The film never provides a single reason to justify why it had to be a story about cowboys and aliens.  All involved failed to ask the one critical question when making a film based on a concept: “is there a good story here?”  No, there’s not. Despite every ounce of you wanting to find a reason to care about what happens, none arrives. As such, Cowboys & Aliens offers watchable but lifeless entertainment." Rating: 3.5/10 Max thought: "A bell is ringing somewhere to honor this missed opportunity for what could’ve been one of the most fun outings of Summer 2011. Instead, we got Cowboys & Aliens, an attempt to take a fun (and ridiculous) concept and try to make it serious, character-driven drama. The only way to describe the end result is an epic, boring failure. Glimpses of the summer movie that could’ve been stand out in the film’s scattered action sequences, but quickly peter out before they can truly shine. The cast is unfortunately all over the place, with nobody being given a character the audience can latch onto for any reason—this isn’t helped by some truly hammy and laughable attempts at father-son relationships/analogies. Favreau’s direction is all over the place in terms of tone, jumping from light to dark fast than you can blink and unfortunately taking the audience out of the experience several times. And while I understand the overall premise requires a stretch of the imagination, there is no way the ending climax fight could’ve lasted as long as it did. Not that it matters, because it wasn’t very interesting to watch, leaving only an empty feeling in its wake of 'shoulda, woulda, coulda.'" Rating: 4.5/10 Kieran thought: "The title alone was enough to get fanboys dizzy with excitement, but this one has sadly disappointed a lot of people. I personally thought it was an enjoyable enough, having great leads actors, strong special effects and action sequences. The pacing was quick for this adventure and it is interesting to see how a people in the Wild West would have reacted to an alien attack, especially because they did not have a concept of what an alien is. It has problems: Olivia Wilde was a weak performer and the aliens' motivation is weak. However, it was a noble attempt, with a creative idea and Jon Favreau assembling a top notch cast. It is worth a rental." Rating: 6.5/10 Simon thought: "The genre mash-up can go one of two ways: it can create a classification of its very own and transcend the roots from which it draws its inspiration, or it can just be a soupy mess of too many ideas with not enough cohesion. Distressingly, Cowboys & Aliens tilts more towards the latter tossing in a number of out-of-place and silly scenes before culminating in a run-of-the-mill climactic showdown. Favreau’s hybrid does benefit from a strong central performance from Daniel Craig, whose swagger carries a number of the film's weaker parts. Cowboys & Aliens does one more thing as well (though towards the negative side of things) allowing me to decide once and for all that I hate Paul Dano and his indie-esque shtick. Make him a mute like he was in Little Miss Sunshine and its all good. Here he just bugged the hell out of me, but I digress.  Across the board, this would-be unique take on the Western is a fairly sizable late-summer disappointment and a blemish on Favreau’s increasingly impressive track record as a strong blockbuster director." Rating: 6/10   Player Affinity Composite Rating: 5.0/10   


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