I have a love-hate relationship with Westerns; saw far too many of them growing up as befits a person whose Dad is a huge John Wayne fan, and consequently went off them a bit. Interest was rekindled with the discovery of Clint Eastwood, then dipped again. I make an occasional foray into the genre if something decent comes along.

You might ask what all this has to do with Cowboys & Aliens which is clearly a sci-fi film, but I would beg to differ. It is definitely a Western; the bad guys just happen not to be from this planet.

So, we have the following standard Western types:

  • the stranger with no past;
  • the rancher who is a law unto himself
  • the gruff but kindly preacher-cum-doctor
  • the world-weary sheriff
  • the drunken rancher’s son who throws his weight around but isn’t a patch on his old Pa
  • the bookish saloon keeper trying to make a life for himself on the frontier
  • the independent young woman trying to make etc etc

So much so standard but that’s what makes this film so much fun; it looks like a traditional western but has some nice twists – eg the stranger who rides into town not only can’t remember his past but has some kind of alien gizmo attached to his wrist and he doesn’t know how it got there.

And of course all hell breaks loose when the aliens arrive to take the townsfolk and the men (with dog, small boy and independent woman in tow) have to ride out to get their folks back.

I really enjoyed this; it’s very well done, not at all cheesy, the effects are really good and it has an excellent cast with some real favourites such as Sam Rockwell and Clancy Brown. Harrison Ford does a terrific turn as the Colonel, crusty and harsh but with the opportunity for redemption. Daniel Craig is brilliant as the hero, and as a House fan I have a real soft spot for Olivia Wilde and am pleased that she gets quite a bit to do here, as her past is revealed and its clear that she knows much more than we think at the start.

The aliens are suitably nasty but not overly so and although the plot really doesn’t bear too much consideration, I thought it was exciting and as I said before really great fun. I’ll definitely be watching this one again.