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Review: Cowboys & Aliens (2011)

by Aaron Vaccaro – Head Writer

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Best Bad Quote:

“Don’t yank on the trigger.  It’s not your pecker.”

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Summer blockbusters these days aren’t what they used to be.  Either they’re a sequel to a bad original, a remake of a film we treasure, or they’re simply too in love with their special FX that they let story go completely by the wayside.  Surprisingly, Cowboys & Aliensseparates itself from the pack with a stellar cast, fun premise, emotional through lines, as well as well done CGI and practical FX.

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When I first saw the trailer for Cowboys & Aliens, I was skeptical to say the least.  Although I do love a good cross-genre mashup, it always seemed like something destined for straight-to-DVD fare, not as a prime summer blockbuster.  Plus, the trailer doesn’t do the movie justice.  The fact that Daniel Craig doesn’t really talk at all in the trailer led me to think the Brit must do a terrible Southern accent.  And although you can hear his James Bond anxious to come out at certain moments, his performance, as well as that of the rest of the cast make up for it in a summer blockbuster that made me remember what made summers so much fun at the movies.

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Cowboys & Aliens is based on a 2006 graphic novel from Platinum Studios.  Although I’ve never read the comic, from what I’ve gathered, the filmmakers stayed pretty faithful to the source material.  The Old West… where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

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Anyone who know knows me, knows I’m a sucker for a good Western.  I love the topography, the anti-heroes, the all-around cutthroat existence that makes the West wild.  To put it in perspective, I spent waaaaaaaay too many hours playing Red Dead Redemption when it first came out.  As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t sold on this concept, especially having not read the comic beforehand and strictly putting all my faith in Hollywood which is rarely ever a good thing.  Top that off with the fact that every producer in Hollywood seemed to have a hand in the making of Cowboys & Aliens, and that it was being directed by an actor-turned-director who lucked out having Iron Man being his directorial debut, I expected this movie to blow, and blow hard.  Maybe it was a combination of the lowered expectations or that I had just come off seeing another comic book adaptation that I had hopes for and was ultimately disappointed by [Captain America], but I found Cowboys & Aliens to be an absolute blast!

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Cowboys & Aliens has a surprisingly well crafted as a story with great performances, specifically that of Harrison Ford who can almost make you forget about Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  I’ve never been in love with Daniel Craig, but I bought into him in this flick.  And what is there to say about Olivia Wilde?  Aside from her looking alien-esque (little bit of a spoiler but one you see coming from a mile away), she has those eyes that have a way of hypnotizing any man into being in love with her.

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With the alien genre seemingly beaten to death over the last decade, the change of venues works rather superbly in Cowboys & Aliens.  Plus, I was very glad that they didn’t take the Super 8 approach and make the aliens simply “misunderstood.”  No.  I want to cheer “FUCK YEAH!” as my heroes eradicate the bastard invaders from another galaxy, Independence Day style.  And that’s exactly what happens.  I mean, seriously, this story manages to unify both cowboys and Indians against a common foe and that kind of unity brought more than one tear of joy to this reviewer’s eye.

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Do me a favor and ignore the plethora of negative reviews that are coming out about this film.  Put your trust in Spielberg, Howard/Grazer, Favreau, and Indy himself, and know that none of these guys would’ve been involved in this project if they thought it was gonna be a piece of shit.  I’d argue it’s the most fun you will have at the movies all summer.

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Rating:

5 out of 5 Nude Olivia Wilde Teases

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