“Genre blending” is nothing new for Hollywood.
Screenwriters and directors have been mining the same literary deposits of inspiration that fiction authors have already claimed for decades in order to develop pre-conceived settings and story-arcs and interchange them with, sometimes-disparate counterparts.
This can be a successful transition (e.g. James Cameron’s sci-fi/horror classic “Alien”); but other times it can lead to failure.
“Cowboys and Aliens” is the film adaptation of the 2006 Platinum Studios graphic novel of the same name.
The stories diverge to a wide degree, but the overall premise of old-American-west drifters, lawmen and prospectors facing the onslaught of alien invaders is essentially the same.
The cast of the film is notable with Daniel Craig (“Casino Royale” and “Defiance”) playing the lead as the amnesiac outlaw Jake Lonergan.
Lonergan awakens amidst the mesas and grass-stretched plains of New Mexico and finds his way to the mining town of Absolution. Craig plays the standard “tacit western hero with a squinting problem” with success and you generally grow to like the anti-hero throughout the film — in part due to the supporting characters he interacts with.
Olivia Wilde (Fox’s “House”) provides the eye-candy and serves as a vehicle for the plot while Sam Rockwell (“Moon,” “Choke,” and “Frost/Nixon”) uses the extremely limited role of Doc the bartender to further flex his underrated acting muscle.
Rounding out the notables is film icon Harrison Ford (“Indiana Jones” — no, you know who Harrison Ford is.)
Ford plays wealthy cattle baron Colonel Woodrow Dolarhyde and serves as the closest embodiment of a human “villain.” And at the age of 69, Ford shows yet another facet to his awesome acting ability.
The film is entertaining with some well-dreamt special effects and some pristine direction from actor/director Jon Favreau (“Iron Man”).
If you are looking for a film that distracts you then most assuredly, this will do the job.
Yet, as I walked out of the theater, I was left wanting just a bit more from the film.
It felt rushed and I never really grew to care about any of the characters except for Rockwell’s and there were questions I had about the aliens that bugged me.
Overall, this is an experience worth seeing in the theater, but I would hesitate to recommend anyone own the film.