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David Poland

By David Poland

Review: Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens is no less than the first colossal, epic turd of the Summer of 2011.

How bad can it be? Well, it’s badly written, badly directed, badly cast, badly acted, badly conceived, and in spite of some professional below-the-line work, it’s a bloody mess of a movie.

Truth is, I can’t think of a single redeeming feature of this film… not a bright light in a dark movie horizon that made me smile for a moment, relieving the agony of watching so many skilled people waste their time and mine. If going to the movie theater to see Daniel Craig’s torso or Olivia Wilde’s nipples pushing through a white shirt or Harrison Ford offer up his trademark smirk once, you’ll be satisfied. Otherwise, stay away.

I can’t really explain myself without writing about what it is I saw in the movie, so…

From here on, this is a SPOILER REVIEW. And you should expect SPOILERS in the comments as well.


It starts from the beginning. Daniel Craig, who is a great actor, plays The Man With No Brain. He wakes up in the middle of nowhere, is approached by 3 bad hombres, and launches into a feat of action bravado right out of a Hong Kong flick… but somehow manages to not make us care or even get excited.

I had the distinct feeling that Favreau had watched and tried to pay homage to the magnificent opening of Silverado, featuring an injured Scott Glenn and a gun fight with men we never see, that leads to Glenn walking out onto a ridge where we see the magnificence of the west. The differences there were, 1. It was a very clever idea for a fight and though hyperreal in a movie way, believable and followable, and 2. We instantly cared about Glenn’s character, who had no introduction, but was under attack in a way that made him sympathetic.

All we get here is an over-the-top fight scene that would make Bourne or Bond seem subtle and a character who has no character before or after the fight. Great tan, though.

We’re quickly introduced to the cast of good guy townspeople, led by a wasted Clancy Brown, a wasted Sam Rockwell, and a wasted Keith Carradine, each playing cliches and trying hard not to just cash their checks on screen.

Then we are treated to a really bad Paul Dano performance as The Obnoxious Son Of The Guy Who Owns This Town, who behaves in a way that is not menacing, but incredibly stupid. The argument is over his bill at the bar? Really? That is his sin?

Seriously, if he’s a loser punk who has such a chip on his shoulder about nothing, how about writing something for him to do that shows how inept he is… how desperate to get out of his father’s shadow… how chickenshit. SOMETHING! But instead, we get whinny boy and a random shot that happens to hit a deputy and that drives the rest of the first act?

Adding to my agony is Adam Beach, a talented actor who looks like Anthony Breznican after a month of eating pie, as The Indian Who Now Works For The Evil White Man. Oy.

And the dolly shot of Olivia Wilde standing in some alley or something, wearing a thin cotton summer dress that is practically see-through on top and light enough on bottom so it feels like we are supposed to be catching a shadow of her thong, so we are clear that she is The Girl.

At this point, I am seriously thinking that the film seems like a college project with an oversized budget. Too many close-ups. Not very good movement. Actors looking like they are waiting for something to happen. Killing me.

And then there’s Harrison Ford, playing an angry version of Harrison Ford, which leaves him without either an interesting character or a whit of charm. Apparently, the writers saw a lot of Termite Terrace cartoons, which might explain why you introduce a character who is not completely insane by having one of his men tied, on either end, to two animals, who are apparently going to tear him apart. ha ha ha.

You get Harrison Ford to play against type… and instead of writing something smart for him, you go for Snidely Whiplash meets Dick Dastardly with a hint of Wile E. Coyote. He will spend the next two acts snorting and hissing and not being remotely interesting.

Then there’s an alien attack. Why? I still don’t know. Apparently the alien effort to steal that thar gold is working… so why are they riling up the locals by stealing people… people they will do nothing but store in yet another Summer 2011 homage to Eight Legged Freaks?

But that’s not close to the most stupid moment of the story, as the entire tale relies on one of those moments that Ebert & Siskel used to joke about, where someone has to do something so stupid that no one would do it for any other reason than to move the movie along. In this case, it’s an alien who is using Craig and his girlfriend for medical experiments, so the alien takes off his wrist-gun, even though the hands they do surgery with are not the ones they have the guns on, and leaves it sitting next to human Craig, who I guess he thinks is sleeping. Craig grabs it, slaps it on and gets out of there (with inexplicable success). The only thing that didn’t happen was the alien telling Bond that they were going to knock over Fort Knox or wear a bowler hat with a razor sharp rim.

If Craig doesn’t get the wrist-gun, there is no movie. Of course, later, others escape the ship and lose their memories… for a fraction of how long Craig loses his for.

Craig hooks up with his old gang for a minute, mostly so he can get hit, and so he can do the oldest action movie verbal gag there is… “I told you not to call her that!”

The aliens finally become part of the movie and the filmmakers – all of them – make the biggest mistake you can make in these movies. They didn’t figure out a way to establish an even fight… or to simplify things so there is no real fight, just the ominous threat.

Make up your mind! Will a single shot from a Colt kill an alien or not? Shotgun, yes. Sharp stick?

By the time Cute Kid gets to stab an alien in the heart because when the alien unleashes his inner arms, it exposes its heart, it doesn’t matter. It’s just another kill gag, never to be used again.

And will someone please tell me how Harrison Ford’s character ends up finding Daniel Craig in the middle of the alien ship without any help? Come on. I gots to know!

I could go on and on and on about all the things that don’t work and don’t make sense about this movie. One more fave… pretty much the only time in the film when we can’t see through Ms Wilde’s shirt… is when she pulls herself out of a river. But when she’s dry, all bets are off. (Where, by the way, did she get skin-tight men’s clothing to wear in the third act of the film?)

I kind of feel back for Olivia Wilde, who has been reduced to a mannequin in yet another big movie. She gets to do more acting on any single episode of House. Can she be a movie star? Can’t tell from either of these movies. She is beautiful. Shes a professional actor. But if she really needs to reduce herself to deep throating her way to stardom – currently rumored to be taking up the Linda Lovelace role abdicated by Lindsay Low-Esteem – I think that’s a shame. (I also think she is a terrible choice. She may be willing to be naked, but I have no sense that she can play the kind of self-loathing and debasement for which the role calls.)

I can’t say I hated this film because it rally wasn’t bad enough/good enough to hate. It simply fails at every turn.

Even the great Matty Libatique… the look of the film is all over the bloody place. Some moments are better than others, but the inconsistency is bizarre on a film like this. It’s not Aronofsky pushing the edge with intelligence. It’s “that sounds cool.” “That sounds cool too.” “How about we try this?” And this feels like Favreau’s approach to the entire film. It’s a bunch of gags… a bunch of ideas… a bunch of characters… that are disconnected in virtually every way possible.

Just think of the idea… Cowboys vs Aliens… cool. But it’s like they completely forgot what was cool about it as they layered more and more crap on top of it. Either that or they were so arrogant that they thought they were above the boundaries of drama and could flip every idea inside out and get away with it. Only geniuses can do that. Sir, I have known geniuses. And…

Speaking of geniuses, here is another Summer 2011 movie that has Spielberg in the credits and reminds us how much better a director he is than any of these pretenders. He brings heart while other bring “more cool shit.” He can make the simple moments sing. You care about his characters. You hate his villains.

You want the easy fix? Act One: Amnesia. It’s a real western. Act ends with the first alien attack. Act Two. The alien attack reminds the hero of who he is and unites the evil and the good. Everyone rallies their resources. Act Three. The alien vulnerability becomes apparent, but the plan to get at it is hard, but clear. The battle for mankind’s existence begins.

You know what we know about these aliens? Virtually nothing! They want gold… and we only know that because Wilde’s character is also an alien… who never shows her natural self. Yes, the movie doesn’t even have the guts to have a human care about an alien after she walks out of a fire wearing her naked human suit. But there is no contact, really. So all the aliens are are giant grasshoppers, cousins to the District 9 aliens, who want to kill you.

One of the great head-turners is Ford, reconciled with his idiot son, becoming a generous loving dad in his last scene… even though we see no real change in the son. Huh? Couldn’t we have two lines of dialogue about how the experience of being probed changed his perspective… maybe even made him a do-gooder or some other kind of actual character?

But it sure was loud!

And lousy.

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84 Responses to “Review: Cowboys & Aliens”

  1. Chris says:

    Kinda figured this would be all pitch and no movie. Jon Favreau is still one of the most disapointing directors of all time. He has advanced Kevin Smith Disease, one good (kinda) movie and then nothing. Sad to seee Harrison so old and almost emaciated. Olivia Wilde is hot though. Would be nice to find a movie where she can show her chops.

  2. Spyder121 says:

    Are you insane? This movie was great! I swear you so-called reviewers have flushed the concept of “fun” down the toilet.

  3. Mark Hofreiter says:

    Loved the movie! Just came from it. Was on the edge of my seat and had a blast!

  4. candysalas says:

    I agree with Spyder121. The reviewers need to find another job.

  5. Jeff says:

    I saw this movie today, it should have been called 95% Cowboys & 5% Aliens. I give it 1 out of 5 stars. Don’t waste your money people wait for redbox and pay a buck, it’s all it’s worth!

  6. LYT says:

    Funniest SPOILER in the whole thing:

    The aliens are abducting human so that they can find a weakness in them.

    Let that sink in. Aliens who are technologically AND physically superior to humans somehow don’t find that enough. Hell, just point the exhaust from their mothership at the town and hit blast-off: everyone’s toast.

    That, and the alien biology that has evolved to create a hard protective shell, only to expose the most vulnerable organs every time they need to use their extra hands.

  7. David Poland says:

    God, was I hoping to have fun at this film!

    And I’ve had more fun at more mediocre movies this summer than I have in a long time.

    Maybe I should have considered the turd that is Pirates 4… maybe that’s even worse, really, as it ruins something that actually worked as opposed to failing to find a way to make something new to the movies work.

  8. Brett says:

    Yeah, I don’t disagree with anything you said, but both Pirates 4 and Transformers 3 were definitely worse. I don’t know how you can pick apart the lack of logic for this film and not Trans 3.

  9. jennab says:

    I just saw Crazy Stupid Love and thought IT was the crazystupidist movie I’ve ever seen…full of plot holes, mis-leading marketing…it’s NOT about Gosling/Stone, but about Carrell’s annoying, and preternaturally wise, 13-year-old son…UGGH! Would have walked out if weren’t with friends!!!!!!

  10. Che sucks says:

    Good stuff, Dave. And I echo your sentiments on that classic nature of Silverado opening (damn, Kasdan was on fire during the ’80s).

    Perhaps the most disappointing thing about COWBOYS & ALIENS is that the poor box office will be used to support the simplistic “modern moviegoers hate westerns” chatter.

  11. RC says:

    The reviewer was kind, this movie was really really bad. Unlike him I did hate it. I could not wait for it to end.

  12. LexG says:

    Wrong, wrong, wrong… Or am I wrong? I don’t even know now… I usually hear all the buzz and have read all the reviews before I see something, but somehow I went into this pretty “clean” the other day and had pretty much a blast with it– Thought Ford was fun, Craig RULED (a fact I tend to forget since he spreads himself so thin outside of Bond), THE WILDE is SOOOOO HOT LOOK AT HER, liked Carradine, Brown, Beach, WALTON MOTHERFUCKING GOGGINS BOW… And after “There Will Be Blood,” this served as confirmation that there’s NO more satisfying sight in recent cinema than seeing that awesome sniveling weirdo Paul Dano get SERVED for 20 minutes straight.

    I enjoyed all the CLASSIC WESTERN TROPES, the relationship between Ford and Craig that’s out of HAWKS or something, OLIVIA WILDE LOOK AT HER, loved LOVED the cinematography, especially when Favreau let Libatique cut loose into his grain-and-color palette, with those perspective shots right out of Requiem or Josie and the Pussycats… I know it wasn’t GENIUS, I know the script is THIN AS HELL… But it was FUN. More fun than any of the recent Marvel movies… plus that’s DANIEL CRAIG and HARRISON FORD in the OLD WEST. I liked it.

  13. LYT says:

    David, don’t go back on Pirates 4 now. I really appreciated your stance that while it’s not good, the hate-ons people had for it were excessive.
    Resist the urge to join the masses.

  14. sanj says:

    DP – when a movie you really seem to hate – do the writers
    have any chance of getting a future dp/30 ?
    also did you try to get anybody from the film for a dp/30 or let the geeks over at comic con take care of it ..

    interview with the cowboys vs aliens writers – 3 minutes

  15. Suf says:

    Money wasted. I have never been this disappointed with a movie. To be fair, I went in with high expectations. When you have such an amazing and creative concept, and the budgets for such big stars, how can you fuck up so badly?

    Its a sad thing to think of the number of people who will be so disappointed.

    Whatever happened to creativity?

  16. al says:

    ‘Only geniuses can do that. Sir, I have known geniuses. And…’

    I know this is a riff on a quote but for the life of me I can’t remember the original?

  17. LexG says:

    Lloyd Bentsen re: JFK vs Dan Quayle, circa 1988.

  18. LexG says:


  19. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Was “I Want A White Girl” the second single from 2LiveCrew after “We Want Some Pussy?

  20. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    Perhaps if you hummer it I may know it.

  21. LexG says:


    If there’s a white man ON THIS PLANET who claims he doesn’t get raw when he sees RAP GUYS with WHITE WOMEN?

    I’m calling you a MOTHERFUCKING LIAR.

  22. DaveH says:

    Are you smoking crack? That movie was badass! Don’t listen to these A-holes. Go see this shit! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time!

  23. Phill says:

    Reviewer is a troll?

  24. DiscoNap says:

    This is just so odd. The movie didn’t play like gangbusters at all but I thought it had a lot of integrity and a real grounded quality, almost to an absurd degree. A lot of great character actors well used. Definitely a fine diversion.

    This is why I don’t really read reviews anymore, they’re all so context and mood based. You’re all exhausted junketeers.

  25. Jeffrey Boam's Doctor says:

    FYI DP: Wilde is not replacing Lohan in the Lovelace bio. It’s a completely different film from Inferno.

  26. Foamy Squirrel says:

    I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that – you want what?

  27. Foamy Squirrel says:

    How much have you had to drink tonight, Lex? 😉

  28. Keith Cohen says:

    “You are right on target David with this review. Just like the famous Howard Cosell, you tell it like it is.
    As a fellow critic, I expressed similar thoughts in my online review. I would have walked out of the Kansas City advance screening after 30 minutes, but a movie critic is required to stay until the bitter end. I watched the Western classic “The Wild Bunch” the next day to wash C& A completely out of my system. By the way, Olivia Wilde shows a lot more skin in “The Change-Up.”

  29. al says:

    thanks for the ref Lex

    crazily enough I was just thinking to myself that the blog had been so calm and civilised and interesting recently- you’d been well opined and reasoned- and I wondered if I’d missed an important thread (that might also explain also how leah’s gone more or less? and IO’s chilled out?)

    then logged back on

  30. Foamy Squirrel says:

    DP did throw down a gauntlet about 2 weeks ago, essentially saying if there were any more threads that got derailed into personal attacks people would be banhammered with no warning.

    I believe Leah was off visiting relatives, but she posted in one of the NZ/Weta threads so she’s still around(ish).

  31. Martin s says:

    Lex, like Nolan and Bale literally standing in downtown Pittsburgh shooting Batman, you moved to Cali and what you wanted went to PA. White women. Big movies. Pittsburrgh.

    And San Diego

    Good review Dave. Who the he’ll are some of these people replying?

    A nice C&A primer –

  32. Peter says:

    Disappointed with the movie. The problem is that I didn’t care about any character or anything. I couldn’t care less about alien wiping out the cowboys and indians. All the action and explosions are just loud noise to me.

    It’s too bad, because I like Favreau’s movies in the past.

  33. al says:

    Thanks Foamy

  34. Ripshin says:

    Very snarky review. Regardless, it’s time to “bone up” on correct tense usage.

  35. JS Partisan says:

    S, that’s just freaking funny.

  36. Chris says:

    I didn’t think this movie was bad at every turn, some of it was pretty enjoyable, but overall I was still disappointed.

    What’s up with the random comments from people talking about the “reviewer?” Internet damage control, perhaps? Just seems so stiff and awkward. “Reviewer doesn’t know what he’s talking about! Go see this movie, it’s AWESOME!” Know what I’m getting at here?

    Anyway, yeah, kinda cool but disappointing. By the end of the movie I was wishing they just made a straight up western.

  37. Geoff says:

    Hey, Lex – to go along with your outrage: NO, it doesn’t make my blood boil at all… see, there are LOTS of white women, plenty to go around. 🙂 Here in Chicago, you have many attractive, available white women all over and tons of non-white hotties, as well….unfortunately, I can only seem to meet the white, Jewish, over 35, never-been-married, focused-on-career ones…and hey, they’re cool. But I would dig meeting a sexy Latino women – the closest I can seem to come are recently divorced white women in their ’30’s who teach English as a Second Language and know their Spanish. :p

    And sorry, I DIG seeing hot white women hooked up with black men all over the media…because I know it drives the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck absolutely crazy. Look at this way, there are plenty of white women to go around – let’s make sure there are a sufficient amount pissing off their racist dads and the Tea Partiers. It all works out… of life.

  38. actionman says:

    AWESOME movie. Best popcorn of the summer (it’s at least as good as Super 8, with Captain America coming in at #3)

  39. David Poland says:

    I think the comparison to Super 8 is apt, actionman, though I would rank Super 8 ahead of this one. This one is much less competent.

    Cap is better than either, even with the f-ed up ending. Thor is better. Potter is better. Transformers is better. X-Men is better. Green Lantern, mess that its third act is, is better.

  40. Hallick says:

    “If there’s a white man ON THIS PLANET who claims he doesn’t get raw when he sees RAP GUYS with WHITE WOMEN?

    I’m calling you a MOTHERFUCKING LIAR.”

    Dude, no lie, BIBLE even (as they say on Karadashians),I want nothing to do with Coco. NOTHING.

    And even if the “RAP GUYS” took every last white woman for themselves, as statistically and mathematically impossible as that is without a massive burst of harem camps in this country, I’d have to “settle” for the rest of the girls who are hispanic, portuguese, armenian, asian, african, etc? O, WOE IS ME.

    (Y’know, if I didn’t already have a wife here…hi honey…)

  41. JKill says:

    Pretty surprised by the animostity towards CAA because it’s a fun movie with a great vibe and look. Craig is awesome, perfect and badass as the western lead, and Ford is delightful. Wilde holds a lot under the surface in her performance, and she has an ethereal beauty that’s stunning. The problems with the movie, as it has been for others this summer, is at the script level where things aren’t payed off the way they should be. I think it’s without question a better, more exciting and fuller movie than GREEN LANTERN but the one place that they defintiely overlap is that they have crackerjack, effective first acts and then they don’t follow through with that promise, instead content to be a little thin. But regardless, it’s a blast, particularly in how the movie sticks to its western first, sci-fi second ethos. Not my favorite popcorn movie of 2011 but solid.

  42. David Poland says:

    JKill… i respect your right to enjoy what you enjoy, but I didn’t find any act of C&A to be crackerjack… cliches piled on cliches, each one less connected to a living, breathing story than the last. As the 15-year-old I saw the movie with said, it was so loud and so relentless, it was telling you that you were engaged… but it never actually engages anything real, in a movie sense… at least not for me.

    And though I hate to indulge Lex on this silliness in any way… as with Hallick, I could care less what color the girls who groupie rappers or any other kind of celebrity are. I do sometimes wonder what many of these women will do when they get worn out by the lifestyle and are no longer the fresh meat on the block. Rarely do these men respect these women, in my experience. So that makes me sad for them. And I do sometimes wonder what women who can bring that level of energy to their sexuality would be like if they offered that energy to someone who really loved them and who could provide, if not provide mansions and hot & cold running sports cars. But race? Non-issue. A girl of any color chasing a meathead of any color is a rose is a rose and would smell as foul by any name.

  43. Philip Lovecraft says:

    Saw “Cowboys & Aliens” yesterday and while the first 1/2-3/4 of it is good to very good the movie ultimately never leads anywhere or creates any genuine surprise or excitement. The final 1/4 is bad. Very reminiscent of “Super 8” in that way.

  44. JKill says:

    Well I guess we just don’t agree on this one, DP, because I found the set-up, which combines the very traditional stranger comes into town trope with the sci-fi mystery behind the device on Craig’s hand and how he got there, to be very involving. Right up until and during the first attack, I think the movie has established its characters, sources of conflict and themes well and concisely. I think the movie’s far from perfect but it worked well enough for me. Considering you admonish the look of the movie whereas I found the lighting and widescreen compositions to be beautiful and interesting, I think we had very different experiences, which is cool and how these things go.

  45. David Poland says:

    JKill… just to be clear, I don’t admonish the overall look of the film… just the parts where suddenly it becomes an art film for no apparent reason and then leaps back into a more traditional look.

    Nothing wrong with doing that… unless there is no real purpose aside from doing something cool.

  46. henry says:

    I’m assuming “cute kid” is Noah Ringer, aka The Last Airbender.

    I can’t be bothered to sit through this movie, so can someone tell me how much screen time he got and if he came close to acquitting himself after Airbender?

  47. JKill says:

    I understand and understood, DP.

    I thought the “arty” sections were supposed to show the fragility of the protagonist’s lost memories, emphasize the pain and loss of this past, and to distinguish the glossy heroics of the present with unreedemed past failures. They were also used for some of the POV shots, human and alien, if I’m remembering correctly. Although I will say I’m generally one for experimentation regardless of whether or not it can be literally justified. I found the contrasting styles to be, on their own, interesting and different.

  48. Krillian says:

    If it’s worse than Green Lantern, that’s saying something. Lantern had watchable parts, but my goodness.

  49. Steven C says:

    One positive note: it seemed to start off well. Scenery. Intrigue. Something’s going to happen. Surprises. Downhill after the first 20 minutes. Malarkey. Shameful product.
    D minus.

  50. Chel says:

    The biggest problem for me was the lack of evenness for the characters. Ford is tough only in the first scene, then he is normal, then he is sentimental. Same for Craig – who is a badass at first, then he is in love with one woman then another. Both of them die. Olivia’s character is undefined – she is around the action but at a distance. Then she is an alien but really nothing changes – she has no super powers or a cool ship.
    I liked aliens, I liked gold. I think aliens represent Nazis (or some other historical invaders) – torture, experiments, technological advancement, complete destruction of the planet and its inhabitants.

    I think the overall idea was good. It was not well implemented.

  51. Dan says:

    This film is EXACTLY like all the crap scripts I used to read as an intern at studios…..PASS!

  52. Daniel says:

    46,796 is the number of cumshots your mom has swallowed from black bums with severe psychological problems and AIDS

  53. David Poland says:

    Wow… a whole new level of trolling scumbag!

  54. 4Minutes.Me says:

    Saw the movie yesterday – the review hits the nail on the head. All very good actors that do not get to shine in their usual light, severe holes in the plot and at some time missing logic (human experiments, gold flowing everywhere in the caves/ship, change of attitudes).
    Once you leveled your expectations to just be entertained and not educated, wowed or stunned – you can sit through the movie.
    One more thing that is actually great about the movie: Thank God it is not in 3D.

  55. yancyskancy says:

    Why were you counting, Daniel?

  56. Jay S says:

    It’s fluff. Don’t take it so seriously.

    BTW, Harrison Ford really needs to start acting his age. He can’t do these action bits convincingly anymore. And it looks like he phoned this one in on the way to collecting his check.

  57. Amblinman says:

    I can’t believe how badly Favreau and company screwed up what should have been a slam dunk. The movie’s biggest problem is that it takes a unique twist on a premise and proceeds to retread every alien invasion movie of the last few years. Aliens invade, destroy city/town, humans band together (all races and creeds!!) to defeat them. What we should have gotten was The Magnificent Seven vs Aliens. Small town hires baddest bad asses they can find to fend off attackers who happen to be aliens. Done. Lose the giant spaceship and just make it a few aliens who are badasses themselves.

    This shit just isn’t that hard.

    And it would have been nice if the script included at least one moment where backwoods redneck cowboys show even a little awe at the fact that motherfucking aliens are shooting LASER BEAMS at them.

  58. yancyskancy says:

    Amblinman: So if C&A was another knock-off of Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven, you wouldn’t complain about it being a retread? 🙂

    I was semi-interested in this at first; now not so much. Since I’m behind on the stuff I want to see, this one will probably end up being a rental.

  59. Martin S says:

    Amblinman – that is so dead-on and straight forward, it makes C&A even sadder. A natural response to a “aliens attack the old west” premise should be Mag Seven meets Chariots of The Gods.

  60. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Yeah good points Amblinman. I didn’t hate C&A, but it’s painfully mediocre at best, and as you mentioned the plotting is oh so tired.

  61. anghus says:

    “46,796 is the number of cumshots your mom has swallowed from black bums with severe psychological problems and AIDS”

    I hear this was the original title for Rent.

  62. Chisox says:

    C&A was OK. 3 out of 5 stars. It’s the type of film that should always receive at least a lukewarm pass from critics, especially the ones it caters to. I personally enjoyed the movie a lot better than Dark Of The Moon, which I consider a God awful film. Because C&A doesn’t have a gimmick to sell to audiences(like Dark Of’s special effects) it will probably be seen as a failure. Shame!

  63. amblinman says:

    I also think Ford was flat out TERRIBLE. I don’t know what happened to the guy who played Indiana Jones and Han Solo, but he has ZERO screen presence now. They kept building up how much of a bastard his character is during the first act and then the reveal was so underwhelming. Ford just doesn’t have “it” as an old action guy. He’s not Sean Connery circa Untouchables. Granted, the script sucked, but still. Craig was serviceable (although his accent was just strange. Is it me or is it just about impossible to ever recall what Daniel Craig sounds like?)

  64. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    I said this in my comments about C&A in the Weekend Estimates post, but I agree amblinman, Craig’s accent is really odd. Couldn’t place it. And agreed about Ford not being a great villain in this, though the script lets him down. That forced redemption via Beach at the end? Ugh. Just awful.

  65. amblinman says:

    I can’t blame the script entirely. Clancy Brown registered more with his limited and painfully cliched character than Ford did. Ford doesn’t seem to know how to play anything other than grumpy. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but in Morning Glory I swear he played that character *exactly* the same way he played Dolarhyde.

  66. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    Yeah Ford certainly didn’t elevate the material at all. Brown and Carradine both registered more than him.

  67. SamLowry says:

    I see an awful lot of new names chiming in just long enough to say how great the movie is–how many are drawing paychecks form Dreamworks/Universal?

    Spielberg slaps his name on all sorts of movies that apparently need a bump to get made–how is this different from what James Frey is doing?

  68. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    People seem to like Spielberg more as a person.

  69. yancyskancy says:

    What was Ford’s last great performance? I’M F*CKING BEN AFFLECK?

  70. Paul MD (Stella's Boy) says:

    His cameo in Bruno.

  71. SamLowry says:

    “No Spielberg homage is complete without some input from the man himself. So once you’ve written your first draft, dispatch a copy to his office and count down the hours until he calls you with script notes and a request for a producing credit. It really is that simple.”

    Interesting also in that it divides up his oeuvre into periods, just like everyone does with that guy Steven Kaye keeps mentioning.

  72. AmKneesia says:

    Review was right on. I lost all my movie picking priveledges for the rest of the year for dragging my bf to this crap.

  73. Steve says:

    Anyone who thought this movie was good or well made is a total idiot. Seriously, take a good long look at yourself and try to figure where you went wrong.

  74. Dan O. says:

    Nice review. When you go to see a movie called ‘Cowboys and Aliens,’ you don’t expect high art, and that’s fine by us. But if the film itself has problems with taking itself too seriously, that spells trouble, mainly because when you have five writers that’s never a good sign. Still somewhat fun entertainment. Check out my review when you can!

  75. Hallick says:

    The number of writers (and the number of appearances of the word “and” vs. ampersands) slumped me in the opening of the movie. I still liked it a lot, major issues and all.

    The aliens weren’t all that original design-wise, but they were vicious and brutal in a way that was kind of freaky. And thank god for that, because their grand plan made no sense whatsoever. Maybe if they were looking for a single STRENGTH in human beings I could understand the experiments. Otherwise the weaknesses were all over the screen: “Soldering knifes – check. Bombs – check. Lasers – check. Disease ridden blankets – check. Bullets – check. Our hands and teeth – check.”

    Olivia Wilde has the most bizarre insert shot of the year when she first shows up in the movie, AND she walks around looking like OLIVIA WILDE and not one soul is even hitting on her in a place where Carrot Top in a ratty ass push-up bra would be haggled over.

    But still, I liked it a lot.

  76. Hallick says:

    A ceiling lamp neutralized them for the love of god! All that probing and vivisecting to find our achilles heel and meanwhile a CEILING LAMP stops humanity in its tracks while slowly erasing its memories. That’s not good enough?!?

  77. Hallick says:

    Two odd points about “Cowboys and Aliens”:

    1. When you go and name one of your main characters Dolarhyde, you’re a moron. Every time somebody said the name, all I could think of was “Manhunter” and Tom Noonan. It isn’t a worldwide famous movie surname like Corleone or Skywalker, but come on man, you still can’t use Dolarhyde! It’s not right!

    2. The alien fortress looks so much like Squidward’s house on “Spongebob Squarepants” I laughed out loud at it.

  78. Hallick says:

    Sam Rockwell gave the best performance in the movie by far. THAT’S the guy, actor and character combined, that should have been in the “Straw Dogs” remake.

  79. LIZZY says:


  80. Rudiger says:

    Love Ford, Love Craig, Love Favreau but with no witty dialogue and no story, this movie sucked ass. I’d much rather watch Favreau’s Iron Man 1 or 2 or even Swingers again and I’d much prefer watching Patriot Games or Casino Royale for some entertaining Ford/Craig action.

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  84. Jaskee says:

    I don’t think this movie was great, but I did find it to be somewhat entertaining.

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It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon