Cowboys and Aliens

Saddles Down


29 July 2011| No Comments on Cowboys and Aliens     by Sean Chavel


Mirthless adventure instead of gung ho and spirited. Cowboys and Aliens should have been the cream of the crop for summer action movies but turns out to be wretchedly and numbingly misguided, not to mention technically bedraggled. Bewildering that five screenwriters are attached and absent is any wit of dialogue for its entire length – the limits of dim repartee are exampled when two characters get mad at each other and they both tell each other to go to @#!*% , oh ha ha. Daniel Craig, our beloved James Bond, is stone-faced and hardly says a word. Taciturn to such immalleable degrees that there is good reason to initially think that Craig is the alien dressed like a cowboy. Harrison Ford, our beloved Indiana Jones, is a cantankerous bronco-buster who doesn’t quake before aliens for he just wants his abducted son back. The opening sections of the movie are cold and formal, peppered by unexplained and unmotivated violence between the locals. What’s with casting twerp Paul Dano (“Little Miss Sunshine”) as the Billy the Kid-type that disturbs the peace? Is it a surprise to even Dano that one elbow to his ribs by Craig will knock him to the ground?

Cold and unaffected, Craig would never have become a major star had this been his very first marquee movie. This cinematic calamity shows us nothing of his rugged charisma, the pithy libertine he demonstrates as James Bond, nor does he personify dashing intelligence. This is not Craig’s fault though, it is the writers and the director for strapping him this way. Ford looks pleased that he’s doing another movie, but the glint of self-respect is missing from him at this point. It’s as if Ford wants to be part of a good movie, but he doesn’t care to do anything he can to make the best possible movie that can be made. He does a minimal effort to put on a croaky rustler’s accent and exerts what’s required of an actor of pulling a shotgun off his back, cocking and firing it with ruffled concentration.

It’s usually a good sign to find Sam Rockwell (“Matchstick Men,” “Moon”) in a movie, but his wimpy saloon-keeper flustered my nerves by his second appearance. He seemed frayed that flying arachnid-shaped planes would scoop and abduct his attractive wife, but not so appropriately shocked that aliens themselves have come from, you know, another planet. Olivia Wilde (“The Next Three Days,” “The Change-Up”), most particularly, is a victim of this project. Wilde is cast as the mysterious beauty, conceptually on the good guy’s side, and happens to be one of those rare strong women of the old west. Wilde doesn’t embalm an emotional depth that separates her from other actress contemporaries, but what makes her different is that she is unmistakably more beautiful, with her farmland girl but porcelain perfection, than most any other beauties in Hollywood movies. Which makes it all the more head-scratching that no man in this movie regards her as a beautiful woman they would like to attain but instead are ready to coldcock or shoot her just because she has made an interrupting appearance amongst angry trigger-finger broncos.

Bulks of the movie are needlessly confusing only because of lack of dialogue, the suffocating silence of characters who point guns first, ask scant questions second. The aliens are right out of “District 9” from last year, spliced with a little “Independence Day.” But nothing is more disrupting than the atrocious cinematography which emulates the look of rusted copper for daytime shots, while festering charred orange hues and burned brown hues for nighttime shots. This baked color palette of “Cowboys and Aliens” declares itself the worst cinematography job on a big Hollywood movie since “Eat Pray Love,” that one managed to make the wonders of the world look dreadful.

118 Minutes. Rated PG-13.


Film Cousins: “Predator” (1987); “Independence Day” (1996); “Wild Wild West” (1999); “District 9” (2009).

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


There are No Comments about this post

Add Yours!

You must be logged in to post a comment.