Cowboys and Aliens
Wow, what do you make of a film like this, which delivers exactly what it promises, with a straight face? Just go with it? Make fun of it? Consider it a self-parody? An unwitting farce? Hollywood camp? Or do we make this kind of adventure/sci-fi/CGI film just because we can?
Somewhere in the Old West, a grizzled cowboy (played by Daniel Craig, with only an occasional slip of the accent), wakes up in the middle of the desert with a strange metal bracelet on his wrist which he can’t seem to remove. He also appears to be wounded. And he suffers from amnesia. But no sooner does he regain consciousness and awareness than he is menacingly approached by three salty hombres who are looking to take advantage of someone helpless and vulnerable and outnumbered. Little did they know how overmatched they were, until it was too late.
Craig (surely his character name isn’t important---hasn’t he arrived at a point like Harrison Ford, where he really only plays himself?) happens upon a saloon-centered, one-street town that features a spoiled rich kid shooting up the place, and a mysterious young woman who seems to be very interested in him, even after his repeated rebuffs. (The strong, brooding types only become more appealing when they’re surly and disinterested.) Let’s see, we have a kindly preacher who doubles as a doctor, a hapless oppressed hotel owner with a beautiful supportive wife, and an imperious menacing patriarch (enter the inimitable Harrison Ford) who owns the biggest cattle ranch in the territory, and loves throwing his weight around, even with the local sheriff.
But all of these dark dynamics are trumped by the sudden arrival of yes, alien spaceships, who start shooting up the place from the skies, and also setting off our favorite cowboy’s mysterious bracelet, which, when activated, conveniently doubles as a portable bazooka.
The beautiful girl, it turns out, is an alien in human form who’s come to help the clueless cowboys figure out how to repel the space invaders, because they’re actually a scouting party, ready to return to base and report easy pickings among the primitive earthlings. It seems they are also coveting the local gold, because mining and processing it powers their spaceships.
Enter the whooping Indians, who temporarily ally with the taciturn cowboys in order to fight together against the monstrous aliens, who look like gargoyles on steroids who wandered off the set of “Lord of the Rings.” Making the world safe for patriarchy?
You get the feeling that the people who actually produced this unique film developed the idea after a few beers, and the more they drank, the more “out there” the proposed plot became.
So, dear viewer, if you decide to try this rather adventurous summer movie, you can then decide in which category it belongs, or whether it sufficiently defies categorization as to make it just stand alone, and let the title speak for itself.
Dr. Ronald P. Salfen, Co-Pastor, United Presbyterian Church, Greenville , Texas