CHANNEL 4 4SEVEN E4 MORE4 FILM4 4MUSIC 4oD

Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 12A
  • Adventure, Sci-Fi
  • 2011

Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens

Synopsis

Cowboys face off against aliens in a genre mash-up adventure starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford

About

Cowboys & Aliens, directed by Iron Man's Jon Favreau, opens with that old Western staple, the Man Of Few Words, alone in the wilderness. This particular Man Of Few Words is called Jake Lonergan, is played by Daniel Craig, and has no idea how he got way out there in the back of beyond, still less what this weird bracelet thing on his arm is all about. He's obviously one of the titular cowboys, and seems to be the subject of a bout of probably alien-related amnesia. So all we have to do now is wait for the aliens to show up and bring the fight, right? Sadly, most of the films best moments occur before that happens.

Lest you're imagining Indiana Jones with tentacles instead of a whip, or Han Solo bursting out of somebody's chest with a ready quip, we should say from the get go that no aliens are played by the other lead-billed star, Harrison Ford. Ford plays Woodrow Dolarhyde, another Man Of Few Words, who quickly enacts another tradition of the old West, a fearsome grump-off, against Daniel Craig's character. The two attempt to out-grump each other from the moment they meet. Who will be crowned the surliest? Who's the biggest crosspatch? Who needs to sit on the naughty step until he can play nicely? We never really find out, because those darned aliens ruin what for a moment there threatened to be an entertaining Western throwback.

These aliens, which resemble the 'prawn' creatures of District 9, never really convince. Their motives are less alien, more piratical (there's gold in them thar hills, apparently). They ought to be tough, yet one sniff of the local Native Americans' bows 'n' arrows routine and they're less unidentified flying object, more dropping like flies. And, crucially, we should believe our heroes are credibly in danger, something that is absolutely never the case - you feel that one glower from Butch Crankyface and the Cantankerous Kid and the space invaders would flutter whatever passes for eyelids in their species and be on their merry way, pardner.

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, Olivia Wilde
  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Photographer: Matthew Libatique
  • Composer: Harry Gregson-Williams

In a nutshell

The cowboys: great. The aliens: not so much. There's fun to be had here, but it falls way short of the pulp classic it could have been.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 The Babadook

    The Babadook

    Widowed mum Amelia (Essie Davis) finds caring for her wayward child Samuel (Noah Wiseman) a tall order. But shes more or less coping until a scary picture book about the mysterious Babadook starts to haunt this single parent family

  • Film4 This Is Where I Leave You

    This Is Where I Leave You

    Shortly after discovering his wifes infidelity, Judd (Jason Bateman) learns of the death of his father. Forced to return to his childhood home to spend a week with his mother, four siblings and his extended family, Judd tries to take stock of his life.

  • Film4 Beasts of the Southern Wild

    Beasts Of The Southern Wild on Film4

    Quvenzhané Wallis stars in an Oscar-nominated role as the six year-old Hushpuppy in Benh Zeitlin's magical realist drama on Film4

  • Film4 Killer Joe

    Killer Joe on Film4

    Matthew McConaughey, Emile Hirsch and Juno Temple star in William Friedkin's noir thriller on Film4

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Joe Cunningham's 11 recommendations for LFF 14

    Unfortunately I haven¿t been jet setting around the world this year to the various exciting international film festivals, but that¿s what makes the London Film Festival¿s compilation approach to progr

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Michael Leader's 11 recommendations for LFF 2014

    One of the best things about the London Film Festival¿s smorgasbord approach to programming is that, amongst the world premieres and gala screenings, there¿s an eclectic collection of exciting films o