Fusing the old west and sci-fi is not exactly a brand new concept. At least not
for the small screen. Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone dedicated a number of episodes to
this seemingly odd combo, and so did the new Outer Limits series with their episode,
“Heart’s Desire.” No one had ever thought about a melding together on the big
Which is why Cowboys and Aliens is impressively unique despite it’s obvi-
ously amusing title that reaped all types of laughter and sarcasm when the trailer was
first shown in theaters( it gradually settled down to nothing later). Notwithstanding, leave
it to iconic producer/director Steven Spielberg to take a chance on adapting an obscure
2006 comic that I or anyone else had ever heard of. It’s one of the best popcorn flicks
you’ll ever see- and quite fun to watch too.
Proving his versatility as an actor and his ability to portray other men besides
James Bond, Daniel Craig awakens abruptly in the middle of a dessert clearing with no
idea of who he is, where he’s from or where he’s been. And the strange metal bracelet
slapped to his wrist offers no insight. He is essentially a man without a- well without any-
It just gets worse when a small group of men discover him and , at gunpoint, try
to force him back to town. Employing some “007” moves, he quickly dispatches them,
borrows some of their clothing and heads to that small town called Absolution. No sub-
siding of misfortune here as Craig encounters young whippersnapper Percy Dolarhyde
(an engaging Paul Dano), some determined lawmen who finally identify him as Jake
Lonergan and Percy’s father, Colonel Woodrow played with mean spirited unlikability
by Harrison Ford. The only silver lining is Olivia Wilde’s Ella Swenson who’s as enig-
matic as she is beautiful.
Seems Lonergan is a wanted man. While being prepared for transport to the po-
key, the bracelet on his left wrist flashes to life, and the next thing these townspeople see
are strange looking spacecraft ripping through the streets with some type of high energy
blasters and snatching them up at random. When one of these stray blasts hits Lonergan’s
prison wagon, he almost immediately uses the “bracelet’ to shoot an equally powerful
blast at an oncoming alien ship, bringing it crashing to the ground.
Silence grips the residents for a few moments as they try to assess what just hap-
pened. It’s not surprising that one of the kids refers to these things as demons. After all,
this is 1873. It’s not long before they all realize that all must work together to combat
this threat to their land, including the good, the bad and the Native American.
Having to endure the ever increasing love Hollywood has for remakes, it’s com-
fortably refreshing to see a movie that is at least somewhat original. Spielberg expressed
his wonderment at Cowboys and Aliens long delay in a featurette. Something like this
may have been too original for the 20th century. The mixture of brands alone makes one
curious about how this is going to work.
The aliens themselves are apparently not that advanced, giving our heroes some
type of advantage. Guess they haven’t gotten to the Star Trek age of transporter units.
Instead, they catch their victims with metal wires shot from their aircraft. Their ships
have no warp drive, so while chasing them on horseback may be a chore, it’s still possible
to catch up with them.
Director Jon Favreau (Ironman) knew he could not have made any buzz for this
movie stick without a great cast. Headlining Indy Jones’ Harrison Ford and James Bond’s
Daniel Craig were much more preferable than total unknowns. Especially for an unknown
comic. Cowboys and Aliens rests on their shoulders as they try to bring back the good ol’
days of yesteryear. Justified’s Walton Goggins turns a good performance as one of Lon-
Ergan’s gang and Ironman 2’s Sam Rockwell just wants to live peaceably as the Doc.
It’s so refreshing to see some novelty from the Hollywood mainstream, and
not just from indie pictures. If Steven Spielberg, Jon Favreau or other directors can find
more of these “obscure” comics, we might see a brand new era in film making from the
world’s leading celluloid factory.