Cowboys & Aliens (2011) - Jon Favreau.


Plot - A man wakes up in the middle of the Arizona desert, in the old West, with a stomach wound, no memory as to how he got there and a strange metal shackle on his wrist. Once he heads into the nearest town he finds he's a wanted man, both by the authorities and a powerful cattle baron who he's stolen a lot of gold from. Enter stage right, aliens and well.... the result are not as exciting as you would think.

I've heard a lot of bad reviews about this film but I really wanted to see Harrison Ford as a crotchety old cowboy and I did get to see him grunt, snarl and mumble his way through the film so that satisfied that part of my curiosity. As for the rest of the film it is a disappointment considering the people involved; Sam Rockwell, Walton Goggins, Keith Carradine, Clancy Brown, Olivia Wilde and to a much lesser extent Daniel Craig. The main conceit of the film, a potentially fun mash-up of the Western and B-movie alien genre, sounded fun but it strangely feels quite flat.

The main problem was the aliens who were frankly boring and the standard unimaginative creatures/motivations you'd see in any number of low budget sci-fi films; and the second half of the film which dealt with the townspeople dealing with this alien threat was pedestrian both in the plot and direction. There's minimal character development, instead Favreau decides to go with the most clichéd character beats; Ford the initial cruel rancher softens as he deals with a young orphan, the cowardly bartender who grows a spine to find his wife and so on. All lazy short-cuts to give the impression these are more rounded characters going through some kind of change in the film but they're not. Paper thin and in some cases really uninteresting. The acting by the cast is fine, I just wish they had a better story to be in.

Saying all that perhaps with my expectations being lowered meant I was more forgiving of the film than if I had paid to see it at the cinema, and overall I though it was watchable enough. It's not great, or even good but it is serviceable light entertainment.