Silver Chips Online

An intergalactic battle in the west

"Cowboys & Aliens" combine forces

By Saaraa Farooq, Online News Editor
August 1, 2011
The merging of two very different genres, a western and sci-fi adventure sounds suspicious when put into the three words "Cowboys and Aliens." But the director Jon Favreau does not disappoint with this strange mash up.

Cowboys & Aliens

(released July 29, 2011)
Director Jon Favreau combines westerns and sci-fi into a stellar mix starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde. Courtesy of Universal Pictures
Chips Rating:
3.5 stars

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Director Jon Favreau combines westerns and sci-fi into a stellar mix starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.
The movie begins with a wounded loner, Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig), waking up with no memory of himself and a strange metal bracelet around his wrist. Soon after, a group of bandits finds him but he quickly disarms, disrobes and loots them. He then rides into the nearby town of Absolution where he finds Meacham (Clancy Brown), who is a preacher, to fix up his wound. Not a minute later, he confronts a drunken bully, Percy Dolarhyde (Paul Dano), whose father, Woodrow (Harrison Ford) is the owner of the cattle ranch that keeps the town going. In a nearby saloon Jake meets Ella Swenson (Olivia Wilde), who says she knows something about him and can help him find what he is looking for.

Craig makes for a convincing cowboy, and at the same time the dusty old town fits right in the western setting. But, it takes Favreau a long time for the movie to give the audience a real jolt out of their seats. The movie has to really get underway before extraterrestrials come into the plot with a bang. Strange lights appear in the sky coming from hovercrafts that grab some townsfolk with metal claws, and then fly away after getting what they want. The gruesome looking creatures from outer space attack the townspeople searching for gold. Jake figures out that his bracelet is actually useful as a weapon to blast enemies by shooting one of the crafts out of the sky.

In order to get their loved ones back, strangers join forces. Lonergan and the hard-hearted Woodrow Dolarhyde work together with the remaining townsfolk to track the aliens down and bring their people home. Local Apache tribesmen help Lonergan regain his memory and pledge their loyalty in the fight against the aliens.

The movie blends its two genres well, and Favreau handles the sci-fi smoothly with special effects and effective lighting. There are moments of violence that are brutal enough to be too scary for kids, so the PG-13 rating fits perfectly. The supporting roles in the movie, such as the saloonkeeper Doc (Sam Rockwell), American Indian orphan Nat (Adam Beach) and the sheriff's grandson Emmett (Noah Ringer) give the movie a softer touch and several emotional scenes.

Though the movie is a mix of two fun genres, it has a risk of being met with apathy from a weary audience with its somewhat dull beginning. But in the end, it is a blockbuster worth watching.

“Cowboys & Aliens” (118 minutes) is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned) for intense sequence of western and sci-fi violence and some mild profanity. Now playing in theaters everywhere.