Cowboys & Aliens (2011)
Starring: Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Harrison Ford, Sam Rockwell, and Adam Beach
Director: Jon Favreau
Rating: Nine of Ten Stars
When an aliens start terrorizing an isolated area of the American Southwest in the 1870s, outlaws, cattle-ranchers, settlers, and Apache Indians join together with a mysterious woman (Wilde) and an amnesiac who has somehow gotten his hands on one of the alien devices (Craig) to defeat them before they conquer Earth.
"Cowboys & Aliens" is an action-packed genre-bending mix of Western and Sci-Fi as a landscape populated with Western archetypes becomes the setting for an epic adventure tale told through one of the smartest scripts I've witnessed in years.
Although this is a movie that's primarily about aliens blowing the hell out of cowboys and visa-versa, a lot of thought and care went into just about every character that appears on screen that's not just part of the background. Even minor supporting characters get little touches that give them more depth and life than some main characters in recent allegedly character-driven movies--including one of the alien invaders. And the actors all rise to the level of this superior material, with not a single bad performance among them.
The most remarkable character and performance in the picture is given by Harrison Ford. His Colonel Dolarhyde starts out as the stereotypical, psychotically evil ex-Army officer cattle-rancher strong man, but by the time the film is over, he is completely transformed into a sympathetic character who is the most fully developed of all of them.
Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde are basically, well, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde. Both characters that they play are of such a nature that their physical appearances are very important, and both of them are perfectly cast in their roles... Craig for his craggy, weather-worn looks and Wilde for her ability to seem mysterious by just standing around. The fact that neither one of them was the first choice to play those parts is a sign that the Movie Gods were watching out for this film. They're both so perfect I can't imagine this film being as good if they hadn't been in it.
"Cowboys & Indians" deserves to be counted among this years best movies, whether measured by quality or box office receipts. I highly recommend going to see it, even if you're a stingy bastard like me who goes to matinee screenings. This is the kind of movie that Hollywood needs to make more of..
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