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Movie Review: Cowboys & Aliens

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Cowboys and Aliens is a good movie, a really good movie. However, if you’re looking for a sci-fi movie set in the Old West you may be disappointed because at its heart Cowboys and Aliens is a western. It may have a side order of sci-fi, with alien bad guys instead of outlaws or cattle rustlers, but this movie is definitely a western, albeit an unconventional one.

You do get cool spaceships and lasers and nasty ET’s sprinkled in among the horses and the six-shooters, but the storyline is straight out of the western genre. An outsider (Daniel Craig) wanders into town, stirs up some trouble, and gets himself arrested. Then the bad guys shoot up the town with glowing lasers and flying ships, in order to kidnap hapless townsfolk. The survivors eventually band together to form a rescue posse and go off to bring back the abducted, meeting bandits and Indians along the way.

The director, Jon Favreau, does an excellent job of bringing together the disparate elements in a solid plot that manages to weave the sci-fi elements into the narrative convincingly; the idea of aliens being thought of as demons by the people in town was both realistic and amusing. The film also has a stellar cast playing the classic roles, including an outstanding Daniel Craig as the amnesiac outlaw turned reluctant hero, Harrison Ford as the grizzled, severe cattle baron, and Sam Rockwell as the ineffectual greenhorn; they all mesh well to give the movie some emotional depth.

Cowboys and Aliens is an enjoyable film, filled with fun dialogue, shootouts, fights, and rollicking western action, sci-fi style.

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