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COWBOYS & ALIENS (director: Jon Favreau; screenwriters: story by Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby and Steve Oedekerk/Roberto Orci/Alex Kurtzman/Damon Lindelof/based on the comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg; cinematographer: Matthew Libatique; editors: Dan Lebental/Jim May; music: Harry Gregson-Williams; cast: Daniel Craig (Jake Lonergan), Harrison Ford (Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde), Olivia Wilde (Ella), Sam Rockwell (Doc), Adam Beach (Nat Colorado), Paul Dano (Percy Dolarhyde), Clancy Brown (Meacham), Keith Carradine (Sheriff John Taggart), Noah Ringer (Emmett Taggart), Ana de la Reguera(Maria, wife of saloon-keeper); Runtime: 118; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producers: Brian Grazer/Ron Howard/Alex Kurtzman/Roberto Orci/Scott Mitchell Rosenberg; Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Reliance Entertainment; 2011)
Ed Wood Jr.’s debacles were at least humorous.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”/”Elf”/”Made”) directs this misfire. It’s a hybrid cowboy and monster sci-fi genre film, and Favreau makes it one hell of a ridiculous movie lacking clarity, fun, purpose and a good story. Ed Wood Jr.’s debacles were at least humorous. In this unexciting cliched action/adventure pic, Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones)plays cowboy tough to team up with rugged outlaw cowboy Daniel Craig (James Bond) for a gunfight finale with space demons (Where are Abbott and Costello when you need them!). Though Ford and Craig are likable and talented actors, this mess based on the 2006 comic book by Scott Mitchell and scripted by a team of 6 writers is too empty to be saved by even such great stars. It might have only worked as a pitch to sell a screenplay to a Hollywood mogul genius (Steven Spielberg is the executive producer) or smelled like money in the bank to some bottom-line investor types who believe there’s a better chance to profit on crap than trying to invest in an intelligent film.

The film’s best moment comes in its opening scene, when a beaten Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up alone in the desert of the New Mexico Territory, in 1875, with no memory of who he is and is sporting a fancy metal wrist bracelet that turns out to be a 007 gimmicky-like weapon that zaps aliens. After Jake kills a few unfriendly strangers on the trail who try to jump him, he steals their clothes and rides one of their horses to the nearest dusty mining town called Absolution. Here wanted outlaw Jake (that’s who he is before his amnesia) tangles with Sheriff John Taggart (Keith Carradine), with the bullying mean-spirited crazed youth named Percy (Paul Dano) and his overprotective gruff cattle baron dad Col. Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). There’s also in town a beauty named Ella (Olivia Wilde), who is a mystery woman with an important connection to Jake.

Things change quickly from just bad filmmaking to really bad filmmaking when without rhyme or reason aliens attack the town and swoop down to kidnap some of the locals. Evidently this brings together a rescue mission from every type of denizen of the Old West-Native Americans, Cowboys, a cattle baron, bar owner (Sam Rockwell), a gun-toting preacher (Clancy Brown), a grateful Indian raised by a white man (Adam Beach), outlaws, a cute young kid (Noah Ringer) who falls in love with a sharp knife given as a gift of manhood and the posse’s best chance of success in their mission–the reformed outlaw with the wrist bracelet.

Things keep changing on the fly, so that any character build-up from earlier scenes falls by the wayside as things conclude with an astonishingly sappy ending that not only makes no sense and aroused no emotional reactions because we never care about anyone in this film– but the absurd story is so absurd it insults the viewer’s intelligence.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”