Every audience of this film will be filled with people who love the idea of it...at first. Then, I believe, people will leave telling others how much fun this movie is and word will spread. Then others, who thought the premise of the film about cowboys battling aliens is completely stupid, will check it out and some...not all...but some will agree with how good it is.
My wife attended this premier with me although she was positive it was going to be stupid. I assured it couldn't be crap because it stars Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig (the new James Bond, Defiance), was directed by John Favearu (Iron Man, Iron Man 2) and was produced by Steven Speilberg, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer. That's a blue ribbon pedigree right there. Then I noticed during the opening credits that it was written by nine different people and I felt even more assured. That many hands on a movie is either going to create quality or disaster, but I had faith that some of those top shelf Hollywood royalty wouldn't attach their names to crap. I was right.
Cowboys and Aliens is one of the most fun and well done films of the summer. It's executed with precision because wavering slightly off target would have ruined it. Harrison Ford, who plays one of his best roles since Han Solo, yells out the line "This is ridiculous" during a scene of exposition and although we all agree with him, that's as far as the movie goes to acknowledge it. It's like a master comedian telling you a joke with a straight face. The movie doesn't even give you as much as a wink to the premise being silly. Everyone in the movie commits to the roles and plays it off as seriously as they could. I loved that about it. If it was done slightly campy or silly it would have felt like a totally different film and it wouldn't have satisfied what I was looking for. I wanted True Grit and Independence Day to become one movie, although I don't smoke weed so a thought like that never crossed my mind until it was presented to me.
The "cowboy" part of the film is done with such great detail that it would stand up to most great westerns. The "alien" part of the film (although they're never called "aliens" since it's 1873...they're called "demons") is also done with splendid detail that it offers the thrills comparable to most great sci-fi films. That is a very hard circus trick to pull off and I say they did it.
Not everyone will agree with me however. Cowboys and Aliens is going to be very polarizing for a lot of people. Upon leaving this movie, I can say with confidence that you'll either love it or hate it; there will be no one left in between. But there will be some haters that get converted to believers by exciting action, great performances, and even some shockingly touching scenes...just like my wife did. For the rest of them, it's safe to say that if you think a movie titled Cowboys and Aliens sounds stupid and not intriguing in the slightest, you're better off staying home because that's exactly what you get...but hot damn is it fun.
Cowboys and Aliens (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: A