The shortcomings of Cowboys & Aliens
MANILA, Philippines—It is puzzling how a concept which could have made for interesting entertainment can fizzle as it did with Cowboys & Aliens even with a squad of producers, executive producers, and writers at its helm.
Viewers can expect to see a great deal of what the title of the movie suggests it is all about—cowboys battling it out with aliens. But even with the cool premise, director Jon Favreau and his gang of producers, including Steven Speilberg and Ron Howard, and a fantastic cast seem to have failed in execution.
The story, originally shown in a comic book by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, is set in the deserts of New Mexico Territory back in 1875 where Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up with no memory. All he has with him is a photo of a woman and a curious-looking metal bracelet strapped to his wrist.
He wanders into the quiet desert town of Absolution where he learns that he is a wanted man. He is particularly being hunted down by Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford) for stealing gold. It is here that Lonergan meets Ella (Olivia Wilde) who seems to know a bit of his past.
But just when we think director Jon Favreau will unravel Lonergan’s myserious past, Absolution discovers that the stranger is the least of its troubles as strange beings swoop down from the sky and capture its residents. It is here that viewers see Lonergan’s bracelet for what it really is, a weapon that is a match for the powers of extraterrestrials hell-bent on abducting humans.
An unlikely team, Lonergan, Dolarhyde and the rest of the town’s residents (those who survived the attack, anyway) decide rescue the humans who were snatched by aliens.
Viewers will really get their fill of cowboys charging head on with aliens but not much more.
The movie fails in stitching together a solid narrative even with good actors like Sam Rockwell (Doc) added in the mix. Sure, there are aliens and cowboys but Favreau seems to have difficulty in weaving a clear story and developing characters out of what could be an interesting concept of combining western and science fiction genres.
It is also quite odd that although all the other smaller characters are being mauled and split in two by aliens, the lead characters seemingly run across little danger and if they do it is a momentary scare of sorts.
The movie surprisingly had a lot of writers—Damon Lindelof, Hawk Ostby, Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman, Mark Fergus, and Steve Oedekerk—but ends after a two-hour run with a feeling of dissatisfaction as viewers wait for the great reveal—that certain moment when everything unravels only to be disappointed.
Maybe what’s missing from the story is a sort of tying up of loose ends and actually having a clear storyline, and not just blowing up the spaceship as an ending.