Cowboys & Aliens might be the most poorly-executed blend of movie genres since custard pie slapstick was mixed with a Martian invasion in The Three Stooges in Orbit back in 1962. The good news about this campy Western/sci-fi combination is that it has about just as many laughs per minute as the Stooges’ ill-advised adventure. The bad news, however, is that director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) probably wasn’t trying to make a comedy.
Regardless, the audiences mostly likely to enjoy Cowboys & Aliens are those ready to laugh at the improbable sight of gunslingers in ten gallon hats trying to get the drop on aliens who have arrived on Earth with designs on mining all the gold out of the ground. Loosely based on Scott Mitchell Rosenberg’s illustrated novel of the same name, the film co-stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig, bona fide matinee idols whose presence in a cheesy B-flick with cheap special effects only adds to the unintended hilarity.
The story unfolds in 1875 in Absolution, New Mexico where we find the town folk initially disturbed by the arrival of Jake Lonergan (Craig) a grizzled drifter wanted dead or alive for the murder of Alice Willis (Abigail Breslin). But then a mysterious mother ship descends on the desolate desert and starts abducting people one-by-one while simultaneously extracting ore.
So, local lawman Woodrow “Don’t call me Colonel” Dollarhide (Ford) decides to join forces with Jake whose futuristic bracelet proves a better weapon against the invaders than his standard issue six-shooter. In fact, all the humans in the vicinity put aside their differences in defense of the planet in an uneasy confederacy of settlers, Indians and outlaws.
Unfortunately, there’s nothing convincing about their ensuing Old West showdown with extraterrestrials, and it’s hard to believe that it took a collaboration of eight screenwriters to craft such a hokey, cliché-ridden script.
Sorry, judging from this disaster, cowboys and aliens simply don’t look like they ever belong up on the big screen together.
What’s next, the Lone Ranger and Tonto take on the Body Snatchers?
Fair (1 star)
Rated PG-13 for violence, brief nudity and a crude reference.
Running time: 118 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
To see a trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdmupNxobP0