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Cowboys & Aliens

Posted on the 11 August 2011 by Periscope @periscopepost
Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens

Daniel Craig takes a break from James Bond to star in Cowboys & Aliens, the tale of a New Mexico town menaced by beings from another planet. Craig plays Jake Lonergan, who wakes up in the desert with amnesia and a mysterious bracelet clamped to his wrist; he wanders into a battle between  – and the clue is in the title – cowboys and aliens. The premise of director Jon Farveau’s film certainly ensures it stands out from other recent cowboy films such as No Country For Old Men and True Grit. But is Cowboys & Aliens worth a trip to the cinema?

  • Brutal. No, said Antony Lane in The New Yorker, arguing that the film “takes itself much too seriously, with acts of brutality outnumbering the gags”. Kenneth Turan was similarly unimpressed: “It’s hard to say what is most depressing about ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ — the film itself, or the fact that this was the best movie a posse of major Hollywood players could come up with,” he wrote in The Los Angeles Times. According to Turan, the film is riddled with clichés, despite the unusual premise.
  • Empty. Indeed, the premise is the best thing about Cowboys & Aliens, according to Peters Travers, who called the film “all concept, no content” in Rolling Stone. Travers felt that the characters lacked depth, and that he was left unsure whether to root for the cowboys or the aliens. Richard Corliss pointed out in Time that the film’s concept had attracted considerable star power, with Steven Spielberg, Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford on board. But despite a few “memorable moments”, Corliss complained that “the movie sinks into ordinariness”.
  • Missed opportunity. Corliss also revealed that the screenwriters have abandoned the plot of the graphic novel on which the film is based. The novel was an allegory of the treatment of Native Americans. “Prudently deciding that the white folks in the audience wouldn’t enjoy the movie so much if they kept being reminded that their ancestors were guilty of genocide, the writers cobbled a new story with more familiar contours,” wrote Corliss. Writing in The New York Times, Manohla Dargis felt the film had missed another opportunity: to play with the genres of western and science fiction. Instead, she said, Cowboys & Aliens “wavers uncertainly between goofy pastiche and seriousness”.

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