COWBOYS & ALIENS only finally recently made back it's huge $163 million in production costs after quickly becoming a Summer box office flop due to some lukewarm critical reviews. But, I can tell you this, this Steven Spielberg, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard production is much better than some critics have claimed. On one hand, you'd expect a little bit better from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Brian Glazer and Ron Howard. This film doesn't belong on the same shelf with excellent films like SCHINDLER'S LIST,SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, COCOON or APOLLO 13 by any means, but compared to most other films by other filmmakers, this is a very good movie.
Opening with a great theme song that strongly reminds you of a generic version of THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY, I was very excited. A great Western theme has me hooked every time. And tough guy actor Daniel Craig quickly picks up the ball as a typical Western tough guy who stole an alien weapon and becomes mankind's best shot at fighting off the alien invasion during the 1800's Western days.
Harrison Ford's role may be a little bit smaller here than expected here. He's far from INDIANA JONES here, but still this aging actor is a reasonable presence here. Harrison Ford plays a bad guy type here, but seems to gradually redeem himself. At one point he manages to create an alliance with a tribe of Indians to wage war on their common enemy, the aliens. The enemy of my enemy is my friend, they often say.
If I have any complaint, it's that the alien spaceships appear to vary in size, sometimes looking like small drones not even big enough for a pilot, let alone abducting humans, other times the alien space craft appear much larger. There appears to be a little continuity issues here. But, if you can overlook this flaw, and not laugh too hard, there is still more than enough of good story here to carry this odd mix of an alien-Western to enjoyable levels.
COWBOYS & ALIENS does combine some of the best of a good Western shtick, such as a great theme song, a mysterious stranger, a bad guy rancher type and other common elements along with the alien invasion theme. True, it creates an odd mix. Yet, the end result is good enough film that's more entertaining than some critics would have you believe.
The Bottom Line: Perhaps far away from the very best film ever to masthead the names of greats like Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard or Brian Grazer. Yet, these guys sure know how to spend enough money to make some good movies. ***(Three Stars, Good. But, just barely. But, good enough to be good entertainment. Buy it or rent it. You can't really go wrong with anything with Steven Spielberg's name written on it).