Sitting in my impro class last Friday, the teacher commented that sci-fi and horror are the movie genres most frequently made, and the fact that if your a hot girl, you will gain male fans who will watch you in anything. At the time of writing, Olivia Wilde (Ella Swenson) and her cat-like eyes are ranked #3 on imdb’s starmeter.
With sci-fi & the western both being genres which dominate our collective interests, it’s surprising no one has done it (this directly anyway!) before. Sure, you can argue Star Wars is a space western, but there are few movies that have genuine wild west cowboys on Earth battling aliens.
Cowboys and Aliens opens with Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) alone outside a town with the cheesy name Absolution, not knowing who he is or how he got there. For the next two hours, the audience is taken on a ride through an invasion of aliens in the Wild West to discover his identity. In keeping with our 21st century need for instant action and gratification, director Jon Favereau installs the first fight scene 2 minutes into the movie. Favereau then keeps the action going with multiple sources of danger lurking all around Absolution, not the least of which from local wealthy rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) and his son Percy (Paul Dano).
The script does a good job of meshing these two genres and creates a fun, entertaining experience. However, the concept for this movie screams for simple mindless fun and the writers should have left it at that. Unfortunately, about half way through, they decided the movie needed some depth and a message. Of course, what would a western be without Indians, but in this case, the script uses them to teach Lonergan a lesson about his past, which in turn gives him the information he needs to go on and fight against the aliens in order to save the earth. This is the classic Hollywood cliché of a person needing to go through great trials and suffering in order to triumph over self as well as external obstacles and dangers. My other issue with the script is that while Woodrow Dolarhyde is introduced as the town villain, even going so far as to tie one of his workers to two horses as he interrogates him, Dolarhyde’s conversion to ‘the good side’ happens so quickly that it is not believable.
The film, however, is superbly cast and Favereau elicits excellent performances from his actors, including the young and adorable Noah Ringer. And by putting Indiana Jones and James Bond together in a film loaded with action, how can you miss? Especially since they are hot. And guys, you will definitely ‘appreciate’ Olivia Wilde. SPOILER ALERT: In one scene, she is wearing very few clothes. You might want to wear a bib. Just saying…