Monday, October 18, 2021

Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens is a Ride like No Other, So Saddle Up and Be a Man

Cowboys & Aliens is a movie with one big problem: its audience. The cross-genre romp combines cowboys on the range with aliens in spaceships. What is there not to like? There is action, romance, emotional resonance, explosions, gun slinging, and aliens.

This movie is fun. 

Loosen your inner snoot. 

The film will not garner an Academy Award nomination, but that does not mean Cowboys & Aliens is a Razzie Award winner either. Just the opposite. Good acting, plot, characterization are pivotal to this good old-fashion western.

*****

Cowboys & Aliens
 
The Old West… where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. New Mexico Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

IMDB

*****Spoiler Time*****  

The Breakdown

Jake Lonergan, played by Daniel Craig, cannot remember who he is. He wakes up with a weird metal cuff on his arm and no recollection of how he acquired it, where he has been, or how he ended up in the middle of the desert. Once he makes his way in town to the local saloon, he is met by others who do know him and want him in jail. He is an outlaw.

Woodrow Dolarhyde, played by Harrision Ford, is a cattle rancher. His business is the only thing to keep the small community from becoming a ghost town. He has an ungrateful son, but the loyalty of his men.

Ella Swenson, played by Olivia Wilde, is an alien with one quest: to end the dominate alien's genocide and theft. Her people were exterminated by this alien race, and she has plans to stop them from doing that exact conduct on Earth. 

The destructive aliens only want gold. Gold fuels their spacecrafts, but the metal is scarce, leading them to murder and plunder other worlds that possess it.

Together these three characters bring several groups of people to their banner: law men, outlaws, and Native Americans alike to end the terror from the alien assailants.


This film has been rated: 6.0/10 Stars on IMDB.

*****

The Review

Woodrow Dolarhyde
: Look. When I was just a little bit older than you are now, all this was Mexico. Word came that the Apaches was riding towards a settlement called Arivaca. My father wanted me to be a man, so made me ride out with the garrison, banging on a drum. Boy, was I scared. Well, we got there, it was too late. They were all dead and the whole place was burnt down. This settler fella came crawling out of a burning cabin. He was bad. He knew he was gonna die. Burnt bad. He rolled over, looked up into my eyes, and he said "Kill me."

A movie where aliens meet revolvers. 

This film has heart and soul. Two facets many action-adventure movies are missing today. The Entertainment Industry is too obsessed with technology to realize CGI is not the story or the answer, people are. When optics rules your film and the technology becomes a character, then how do the humans compete with shiny objects, explosions, and visual illusions?  

Humans end up on the editing room floor. 

Cowboys & Aliens is the right balance of human interactions and technology. The audience is allowed to feel for the characters and understand the odds against them. There are some hard lessons the characters learn about themselves and how they interact with one another. The audience witnesses a man teaching a boy what hard choices lie ahead of him: "Be a man," Woodrow Dolarhyde says. 

Such honesty and complexity is devoid from movies these days. 

It seems as if moviemakers are more concerned with politics and social engineering, then to realize the human story is what matters. What drives the human condition is what makes the audience want to watch. The father-son interactions with Woodrow Dolarhyde are great. I wish there were more movies about these divine masculine rites of passage and relationships instead of name-calling (toxic masculinity). The only behavior that is toxic is the presence of man-haters. 

Westerns are usually a man's fare, but this film allows the audience the chance to see a woman in an action as well as romantic role, men coming into their own power through courage and tests, and enemies becoming allies to fight for something bigger than themselves. All in all, a pretty well-made film.

But have audiences been so jaded by political correctness that they are unable to see a great movie when one present[s] itself to them? By the low rating of this movie, that would be an affirmative.

Take off your postmodern, dystopic glasses, Cowboys & Aliens is a film connoisseur's treat. 


Watched free on Prime Video. 

*****

The Tally 

My review will be posted on Prime as well as IMDB. 

Prime... 4 out of 5 stars

IMDB... 8 out of 10 stars 

*****

The Writer's Workshop

Movies for Writers: Cowboys & Aliens is how two genres can be combined to entertain with an old-fashion story in a nontraditional way.

*****

For more Movie Reviews, check out Undawnted's Critiques and Reviews page as well as her IMDB and Amazon Prime profiles.

 

Have a great and wonderful day.