Cowboys and Aliens - 5.5/10
(Warning! One fairly big spoiler and some other smaller ones!)
I chose this one hoping for a bit of really stupid fun. I was hoping, to be honest, for exactly what it said on the box – cowboys, and aliens (translation: lots of cheese). What I got was really stupid, that’s for sure, and admittedly most of the time it was quite fun. Yet, I just didn’t feel that it ever reached the potential that such an epic title suggested. It just wasn’t quite fun enough.
The cowboys element was good. I have no gripes about the cowboys. They were tough, brave, lovable rogues, and they included Harrison Ford. There were guns, horses, bandits and ‘Injuns’. There was a gruff but kind preacher, a mysterious wanted man who takes the law into his own hands, the wet son of a rich rancher who was anxious to prove himself, and various other staples of the Wild West. They reacted to the aliens in exactly the right way: ‘what are they, could they be demons, they’re a damn site more powerful than us that’s for sure, but, what the heck... let’s kill ‘em anyway. Posse time!’
It’s a shame the aliens weren’t done so well. In fact, they felt like a bit of an afterthought, which is strange considering they were the other 50% of the concept. Weird, ugly, scrabbly ape like things with big teeth... well, at least it’s nice to see the apetroll from Super 8 getting more work. Their look wasn’t inspiring or frightening, just a bit lazy and boring. They had the technology to zap the entire world into oblivion, but still prefer to run at their attackers, jump on them and claw them to death. This is when they are being attacked with guns, and in fact possess much better guns themselves. And then you have to wonder why they’re mining gold on a scouting mission, and if it is a scouting mission why they aren’t heading straight back to their planet to tell their mates what wusses we all are on Earth, and if it is in fact a mining mission why they haven’t blasted every town for hundreds of miles? Why take prisoners, burn a few houses and leave the rest? Oh right, experiments. Aliens love to experiment for some reason. To find weaknesses, the justification is. You’d think ‘die like insects when shot with giant laser guns’ would be enough of a weakness to make further testing a little redundant.
So the aliens, as is often the case, are stooopid. But clever enough to build spaceships that can presumably travel FTL. And have the war skills to destroy the homeworld of another alien being who can shapeshift, travel to Earth, work out how to manipulate an alien gun into a bomb, and blow up the whole alien spaceship with ease. So if they can obliterate such an advanced alien race, why are they having such trouble with the cowboys? And why in the name of all that is holy aren’t they just shooting them with their superior alien laser guns?
Yep, this is bang your head against the wall kind of stuff. Add to this some fairly lazy storytelling, the odd plot hole, and a baffling plot twist that needlessly only opened up further plot holes, and you can see why the movie isn’t thought very highly of. However, none of this would have been a problem for me if the film had embraced its silliness a little more and just gone for it with the full-on cheese factor. But it didn’t. The parts that were told with a twinkle in the eye were good, but the bits that were trying to be too serious just failed utterly. And while the concept was a great one, the aliens themselves were just too uninteresting and exasperating to make it work. What a shame!