February 21, 2020

Review: Cowboys & Aliens.

In theaters now!

This weekend, extra-terrestrials invade the Wild West in the Jon Favreau & Steven Spielberg summer sci-fi blockbuster Cowboys & Aliens. If there’s one thing that can unite cowboys, Indians, and western banditos, it’s a good ole fashioned alien invasion. Like many a Spielberg hit, Jaws doesn’t show up until the second reel, in a tale that starts cowboy, but ends alien. We caught this flick on opening day as a way to celebrate 43 orbits around Sol this weekend. Cowboys & Aliens stars a hero of our Sc-fi adventure-laced childhood, Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones, Han Solo) who plays a cattleman and civil war veteran in a down on its luck mining town of Absolution. Things take a turn for the weird when Jake Lonergan, played by Daniel Craig falls to Earth and later arrives in town sans memory with alien technology strapped to his wrist. Think of Lonergan as Shane with a phaser pistol. As the alien invasion kicks into high gear, the two are joined by Ella played by Olivia Wilde (House’s 13 and starring in the re-imagined Tron)who is  an intergalactic refugee in her own right and the stage is set for an intergalactic show-down, O.K. Coral-style. Yes, some spoilers are due here, but Cowboys and Aliens pulls few punches, like Zane Grey being asked by H.G. Wells to give his War of the Worlds manuscript a look over.

If there’s any deeper message to be had from Cowboys & Aliens, its that like the alien-baddies portrayed Independence Day, ‘They’ are not visiting Earth to impart a message of peace and love, but come instead to consume our resources and then move on. Adapted from a graphic novel of the same name, Cowboys and Aliens is a fast-paced blend of sci-fi and western action. Not quite in the “Weird West” camp, it scores for originality for concocting a western sci-fi tale in a way that only Mike Resnik’s The Buntline Special has in recent memory. As more of the invasion becomes revealed, it turns out the hierarchy of intergalactic prospectors extends right up into the sky. Like the Earthly settlers, its gold that sends the alien invaders body-snatching as they head west. What they use this gold for is never revealed; well, it is a rather ultimate electrical conductor… and is pretty rare throughout the cosmos. Amazingly, the amount of Au mined throughout the history of this planet would make a cube about the size of a large two-story suburban house, and it always stuns me to think that the gold in my wedding ring could only have been forged in a distant supernova explosion… I can see why another species might come to Earth with a hankerin’ for the stuff.

Can a retired colonel, the mysterious Ella, and the residents of Absolution head the aliens “off at the pass,” or will this turn out to be humanities’ last stand? Jake’s stolen alien tech and a band of local Apaches may even things up a bit, even if the aliens have a million-odd years of advancement on them… the stage is also set for a sequel, as the aliens that Jake & Ella take on was only compliment of one scout/mining vessel… will they come back with hundreds next time? And what will contact with this technology do to 18th century Earth? Usher in a premature technological era, steam-punk style? This ain’t your father’s re-run of Gunsmoke, that’s for sure… unless there’s a lost episode with a Martian invasion fleet in it! Do get out theaters this weekend for a Close Encounters of the Wild West kind!

Speak Your Mind