DVD review: Cowboys & Aliens

16:00, Feb 20 2012
COWBOYS & ALIENS: mix of Western and sci-fi clichés

Cowboys & Aliens
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell

It's always interesting when big name Hollywood stars - in the case of Cowboys & Aliens, actors Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, and director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) - are marketed as the main attraction in a mega-budget action flick, where effects and spectacle are often valued over performances.

Written by Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof and Transformers scribes Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci, Cowboys & Aliens follows Jake (Craig), an amnesia-suffering cowboy who makes his way to a small town and tries to piece together the events that left him abandoned in the middle of the desert.

Of course, it's not long before he finds himself in a standoff with wealthy rancher Dolarhyde (Ford) and caught in the middle of an alien attack, which conveniently forces the pair to put aside their differences and join forces against their extra-terrestrial foe.

The film then devolves into a mix of Western and sci-fi clichés, as if someone threw Independence Day and How The West Was Won into a blender and spread the resulting paste onto a roll of film. It all seems oddly anachronistic, uncomfortable to watch at times, soulless at others.

It doesn't help that lead stars Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford (and female lead Olivia Wilde) do the absolute minimum expected, playing their characters with all the enthusiasm of a fast food chef who'd rather be on holiday.

Fortunately Favreau gets a little more out of supporting players Sam Rockwell, Walton Goggins and Adam Beach.

I suppose Cowboys & Aliens entertains on some level; the brainless popcorn-munching level, perhaps.

But with so many more entertaining sci-fi movies available, I'm struggling to find a reason you should seek out this particular one.

Special Features include: Featurettes: Finding the Story, The Scope of the Spectacle; audio commentary with director Jon Favreau