Cowboys and Aliens: Reviewed

Daniel Craig and his bizarre, preternaturally blue eyes are back for this simple tale of rugged gun-slingers versus intergalactic space-bastards.
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Hot on the heels of Super 8, comes the other big Hollywood blockbuster of the summer – Cowboys and Aliens. It belongs to that exciting new category in film known as the ‘Thing versus Other Type of Thing Movie’ (see also Alien versus Predator and Freddie vs Jason). It’s a genre ideally suited to today’s cash-rich time-poor moviegoer as the entire storyline of each production is conveniently encapsulated in its title. This frees people up to spend the entire film fucking around on their Blackberries and having loud conversations with their mates without needing to worry about missing any important plot points.

It also makes life a lot easier for Hollywood screenwriters. All you need to do to get a movie made nowadays is simply write down two nouns on a piece of paper and hand it in to Harvey Weinstein. He will then check them off against his Excel spreadsheet and, provided they haven’t already been covered, will give you $300m to make the movie. Seriously, I don’t know why more people aren’t doing this – I’m flying out next week to pitch Astronauts versus Nazis and Peadophiles v Wombles.

Unlike Super 8 - which kind of sat on the fence on this issue – C&A is strongly anti-alien. The extra-terrestrials in this film are gruesome insect-like creatures with little slimy Jeremy Beadle arms who’ve come to this planet to rape our natural resources and probe our women. After Avatar - where they briefly flirted with a more empathetic, tree-hugging, namby-pamby, Prius-driving, Nancy Pelosi type of alien – it’s good to see Hollywood is very much ‘back on message’ making it abundantly clear that aliens, unequivocally, are cunts.

All you need to do to get a movie made nowadays is simply write down two nouns on a piece of paper and hand it in to Harvey Weinstein.

There’s something comforting, I think, about this black-and-white, good-versus-evil view of the universe. In these topsy-turvy modern times of ours - when we don’t even know if we can trust our investment bankers, tabloid journalists and inner-city feral youths anymore – it’s nice to see a film that harks back to a simpler time when you had straight-shooting frontiersmen on one side and intergalactic space-bastards on the other.

In the first camp is Daniel Craig who plays a rugged outlaw named Jake Lonergan. He wakes up in the desert one day, alone and with total memory loss, having been kidnapped by aliens. Before releasing him, the aliens have attached a futuristic-looking bracelet to his wrist and given him bizarre, unnaturally blue eyes. Seriously, they’re like the bluest eyes you will ever see – there’s simply no way that a normal human being could have eyes that ridiculously blue in real life… (What? Really? OK, apparently those are just Daniel Craig’s normal eyes. Weird). When the aliens return to wreak more havoc, Jake must team up with his erstwhile enemy Woodrow Dolarhyde (a name that is incredibly fun to say out loud in your best highfalutin Wild Wild West accent) played by Harrison Ford.

Ford is really good in this, I think, especially in the first half an hour where he is playing against type as a cantankerous and surprisingly brutal villain. It’s almost disappointing when his character undergoes the inevitable “d’aww he’s alright really” transformation in the final act. Daniel Craig is also pretty convincing in his role as a laconic gunslinger with shades of Clint Eastwood about him (although I find it impossible to watch Daniel Craig anymore without thinking of this). A lot of people will probably not like this film that much (my friend Eric was literally seething with rage when we came out of the cinema) but I think, for what it is, it’s kinda fun. It’s slickly directed by Jon Favreau (Iron Man) with some properly bombastic action sequences and, for a 12a, is a lot more violent than I was expecting.

Also, if nothing else, at least it won’t have been responsible for inflicting this on the world…

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