Likely one of the movies that will get made fun of the most at the end of the year, Cowboys & Aliens combines two things that probably should never be mixed. In one corner you have Oscar winning director Ron Howard, who is known for his fascination with westerns, and in the other you have Steven Spielberg, who likes to put aliens in every movie. So the producing talent behind director Jon Favreau, who is coming off of Iron Man with two of the biggest actions stars Ford (Indiana Jones) and Craig (James Bond). Just looking at the title, you can’t help but think Hollywood has officially run out of ideas. What’s next? The Holocaust & Vampires? I commend the notion to deliver a summer action movie that is completely different, and not a reboot or a sequel, but this movie was DOA; there is only so much you can do.

Wanted man Jake Lonergen (Craig) shows up after his recent disappearance wearing an odd looking bracelet and no memory of who he is or what happened to him. The nearest town has wanted posters of him hanging everywhere. Before he can begin figuring out who he is, the small New Mexico dust town is blown apart by aliens. The cowboys of the town don’t know what to think, and refer to the abducting creatures as demons. Jake is the only one who can stop them with his bracelet, which fires beams when they are near. Cattle rancher Woodrow Dolarhyde (Ford) leads a pack of men, women and a dog to destroy the aliens and rescue those who have been abducted.

For a film that should contain top quality when it comes to any and all effects, I thought the sound editing was really pathetic. Most of the objects didn’t match their sound effects or were highly over exaggerated, including shackles, guns, punches, etc. The western sense of adventure and recovery kind of reminded me of 3:10 To Yuma, especially having two very similar on screen (and off) personalities much like the dynamic between Russell Crowe and Christian Bale. The humor wasn’t as present as I expected; certainly not compared to Iron Man or other Favreau films. Some of the lighter and better moments of the film belong to Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2, The Green Mile) and Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood, Little Miss Sunshine).

Both Ford and Craig are both playing their typical roles; sure, Craig is the kind of character we love watching beat people up and he does that a lot here, but it's routine with him. Ford certainly steps into the background and doesn’t have much to do besides look pissed off, but that’s an expression he always has. The film contains everything you would expect in a western, including Indians and also everything you have come to expect in an alien movie. It’s like War of the Worlds set in the gold rush with Indiana Jones and James Bond teaming up to save the world with a band of Indians. You cannot go into this film expecting much.

Final Thought – Cowboys fighting aliens and not much else.

Grade C

By: Dustin Chase W.

Editor: Michael Woody

Dr. Donna Copeland’s


What a swashbuckling macho trip this is into the old Wild West!  Jon Favreau, the director has done a great job in combining the stories of the west (Ron Howard) and SciFi (Steven Spielberg) into a thriller with an abundance of references to previous works.  We have the ubiquitous guns, tough talk, saloon fights, posses, bandits, whores, gold, and Indians (I love the pun in the title) from the west.  And then, we get space ships trying to conquer earth, ray guns, and threatening weird-looking aliens with special powers (like surviving death) from the space genre.  Putting these together would blow the mind of most of us except for the most creative.  

Daniel Craig is perfectly cast as the amnesic hero who—with a female partner who won’t get off his back—strives to save the town of Absolution from complete destruction.  Harrison Ford is great as well in his crusty on the outside/tender on the inside persona.  Olivia Wilde plays a convincing role as the female lead—beautiful and competent.  Cinematography (Matthew Libatique of Black Swan) is sharp and breathtaking—reminding me of Georgia O’Keefe’s work (spare, pastel landscapes), and some of the filming actually took place in her New Mexico town of Abique.

Inspiring messages include:  Conflicting groups should work together to save our land (Listen, Congress!), women can have a major role in protecting the world, sacrifices from individuals are necessary to save the community, survival requires tenderness and forgiveness as well as toughness, strangers may be of great value, and even the lowly in society (children, women, and bandits) can sometimes help. Perhaps not a great movie, but highly entertaining and nostalgic.

This man-about-town is a new role for Gosling.  I’m thinking of his previous films, The Believer, Half Nelson, and most recently, Blue Valentine.  Here, he is distinctly authoritative even when seducing women, and presents as the polar opposite of Cal.  How these two men interact with one another and evolve across time is not only entertaining, but constitutes a major part of the story.  

The newly found love interests/lusts of the three main characters are cleverly played by Kevin Bacon, Marissa Tomei, and Emma Stone.  The younger actors—Analeigh Tipton, Jonah Bobo, and Joey King—are impressive in their ability to blend in with the skills of the more experienced group.

As an engaging comedy with some substance to it, this is a good production, and should do very well at the box office.

Grade B  Dr. Donna R. Copeland