Old Movie Review: Cowboys and Aliens (2011)

Some friends and I rented this movie the other night on kind of a lark… well, actually, they wanted to see it, and I was willing; so, we saw it. I wasn’t expecting much. I mean, something named “Cowboys and Aliens” just strikes me as silly. Apparently, it’s based on a graphic novel of some sort. The premise is basically in the title: space aliens versus cowboys. Like I said, kind of silly. The cowboys really shouldn’t stand much of a chance. But, of course, in Hollywood anything is possible.


Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the film. It was an intriguing blend of mystery and action, there were even some elements of horror. Not only were the aliens technologically superior, they were physically superior as well. So, it was a real David and Goliath type of scenario. The only advantage (and it wasn’t so much an advantage as an equalizer) the cowboys had was that one of them (Daniel Craig’s character) had an advanced alien weapon attached to his wrist. This he used to great effect throughout the movie.


The movie stars Daniel Craig as the ruffian Jake Lonergan and Harrison Ford as the retired army officer Colonel Dollarhide. Both are rough and tumble sort of characters who are at each others throats early in the film, but then put their differences aside to go and hunt some aliens with a collection of other cowboys, bandits, and even some Indians for good measure. The aliens are responsible for a number of abductions and attacks throughout the area. The only truly effective weapon the good guys have is the aforementioned device on Jake Lonergan’s arm. Things like guns, bows, and spears work to a certain extent but just lack that guaranteed lethality that they have against humans.


The movie kept me interested and seemed plausible enough (assuming you accept the premise) up until one instance where a woman walks out of a fire amid a spectacular pyrotechnic display. We are shortly informed that she is an alien from another world, but my first response was that they were throwing in weird mysticism and magic which didn’t really belong in a sci-fi film. There are a couple questions they leave unanswered in the film, like how did this woman get to earth, but after that one bit with the fire that I’m still a little irritated by (it was just an excuse to startle us with special effects) the movie returned to a “rational” sequence of events.


Overall, it was definitely better than I expected. I don’t intend to buy it, but it was worth seeing the one time. I’ll give it three and a half stars.

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About atoasttodragons

The author, Matthew D. Ryan, lives in northern New York on the shores of Lake Champlain, one of the largest lakes in the continental United States, famous for the Battle of Plattsburgh and the ever-elusive Lake Champlain Monster, a beastie more commonly referred to as Champy. Matthew has studied philosophy, mathematics, and computer science in the academic world. He has earned a black belt in martial arts.

4 responses to “Old Movie Review: Cowboys and Aliens (2011)”

  1. Steve says :

    I felt much the same – surprisingly not as bad as you would think from the title. Not the greatest ever, but not bad. Enjoyable.

  2. Lily Wight says :

    I agree, the leads gave it a bit of a leg-up but definitely not a classic… now, what about zombies v strippers 😉

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