Guest Author - Gail Kavanagh
One of the first pieces of trivia I came across regarding this movie was on IMDB. Apparently Daniel Craig was chosen for the role of outlaw Jake Lonergan because of his ‘distinct likeness’ to Steve McQueen in The Magnificent Seven. Well, there’s the first fail.
There are a lot of fails in this strangely awkward and confused movie, and I must admit I was as excited as anyone when I first read about it in Empire magazine, and really looked forward to seeing Craig and Harrison Ford facing off against the aliens.
Yeah, I think they did that, and somehow they destroyed the alien ship (I think) and the aliens were after gold - to run their ships, I think? It was that kind of movie.
There was also an alien who turned into Lonergan’s dead wife or girlfriend or something, and he actually kissed her - ewww! - and some gratuitous nudity when she rose naked from the funeral fire - or was that Conan the Barbarian?
Trying to get my head around it all, I can say that Jake Lonergan (Craig) wakes up in the wilds of Arizona with a huge clunky piece of hardware on his arm, meets up with some inbred types on horses, kills them, steal their clothes and guns and a horse and rides into a town called Absolution. There he meets the usual assortment of strange people who hole up in dusty Arizona towns in just about every western you’ve ever seen, including the Preacher Meachum (nicely played by Clancy Brown, in un-evil mode for once).
Along comes the not entirely unexpected ruthless cattle rancher Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford) closely followed by an alien spaceship which shoots up the town. Makes a change from Lee Marvin and his gang, I suppose. They capture people by lassoing them (clearly they watched too many TV westerns on their way to earth) including Dolarhyde’s trouble making son Percy, the saloon owner’s wife, and the Sheriff. Naturally this calls for a posse to track them down.
The best that can be said for Cowboys and Aliens is that it is a great title. A title just waiting to have a movie hung on it. That’s just what happened too, a script was cobbled together out of Shane, The Magnificent Seven, Fistful of Dollars, Young Guns and a few others, with some aliens added in. It’s such a great concept anyway, why worry about coming up with something original. Mix western tropes with sci fi tropes and you have a movie. Co-star today’s hot hero - Craig - with yesterday’s - Ford - and you are assured of two fan bases at least. Why is Hollywood making us so cynical about its movies?
Just to rub it in, they find an excuse for Craig to get his shirt off and show off his six pack, the way Ford did in Indiana Jones. What a co-incidence. Oh look, Steven Speilberg is executive producer. More co-incidence. That's one too many for me.