Finally Saw It: Cowboys & Aliens

Normally, I would have seen a movie like this in theaters. It’s a silly action concept right up my alley, the kind of thing I usually enjoy. But the trailer…wasn’t right. Hard to put my finger on it but the previews just didn’t pop. So I gave it a pass and waited until it was available to pull from the orifice of a Redbox kiosk.

(Side note: why are DVDs ejected from a Redbox machine all warm? It feels dirty.)

Like I figured, the entire movie is a long version of the disjointed trailer. Considering there are SIX writers credited on the script (God knows how many there really were) this isn’t much of a surprise. It ends up being one old western movie cliche after another with an occasional alien attack. This is what I took away:

  • I enjoyed the opening scene where an amnesiac Daniel Craig shoots three dirty bounty hunters. Movie kinda goes downhill after that.
  • Harrison Ford’s character is introduced as a ruthless sonofabitch who has a stranglehold on the local town and draws and quarters his own employees when he thinks they’ve blown up an entire herd of his cattle. Even though that’s something clearly impossible for one drunk guy to do and was obviously an alien attack.
  • Later, Harrison Ford’s character is portrayed as a loving father and understanding businessman. The town doesn’t seem to care how shitty he was to them before the aliens. This town is very cool about stuff like that, apparently.
  • Daniel Craig has three flashbacks that tell us the exact same information: he was abducted by aliens, which is where he got his awesome laser blasting wristwatch. I personally believe if you use more than one flashback, and the story structure isn’t playing with the flashback convention, you’ve sort of screwed up. Especially if you use your multiple flashbacks to convey the same information over and over again.
  • I missed all the Olivia Wilde backstory because I fell asleep for a bit and woke up in the middle of the scene where they’re around a campfire with the Indian tribe. But that’s cool, the trailers had already made it pretty clear that she was an alien. You know, the “good” one. Barf.
  • I ate two cupcakes during the playback of this movie. One before I fell asleep and one after.
  • Olivia Wilde tells Daniel Craig that in order to remove the alien wrist weapon he has to “stop thinking”. Then she makes out with him and the weapon falls off. Ha ha. This means the aliens design their weaponry to malfunction when they get boners.
  • The alien physiology is what I can only describe as anti-natural selection. They have two arms but can open up their chests to extend a second set of arms (I guess the really nice ones) to grab at stuff, but doing so EXPOSES THEIR BEATING HEART SO IT’S REALLY EASY TO STAB AND KILL THEM. Also, I would imagine it makes them susceptible to lots of infections. Instead of traveling from planet to planet to steal gold they really should be hunting for antibiotics.
  • Harrison Ford actually speaks the line “I wish I had a son like you” as his Indian ward dies in his arms during an extended death scene. The movie is full of stuff like this. Is there an Insert Cliche macro in Final Draft I’m not aware of?
  • Lots of underused actors that I normally love to see: Sam Rockwell, Walton Goggins, Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown.
  • This was a movie that had absolutely no surprises and almost zero character growth. Pretty much every plot point developed exactly as you thought it was going to. It felt like the script had become so screwed up by multiple rewrites that they just gave up and did what they could to smooth out the structure and started shooting.

2 thoughts on “Finally Saw It: Cowboys & Aliens”

  1. I think they should have seen there was a major problem with the film when they hired the two most boring actors working today as the leads. As much as I hate to say that about Ford, but he’s clearly been bored of acting for over a decade now.

  2. I think that’s my biggest regret: No cupcakes. At least I would’ve had SOME feeling of satisfaction leaving the theatre.

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