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Cowboys & Aliens: Movie Review

Hannah Goodwyn


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Clever is the word that comes to mind after seeing Cowboys & Aliens, this summer’s newest, soon-to-be blockbuster from Universal Pictures. Starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, this new flick from Executive Producer Steven Spielberg mixes the beloved Americana genre of the Western with the scary uncertainty moviegoers love from their favorite alien movies.

Director Jon Favreau (Iron Man) tells a compelling and fun story on screen with the help of a great cast. Theme heavy, Cowboys & Aliens looks at the redemption of a man, matching cowardice and greed against courage and unified strength. Faith also plays a part. However, its excessive violence and foul language is a disappointment, making it inappropriate viewing for some teens and younger kids.


Waking up, confused about how he landed in the middle of nowhere, a stranger (Daniel Craig) struggles to recall his past and reason as to why he has a mysterious shackle stuck on his wrist. Looking for answers, he stumbles into Absolution, a nearby desert town being bullied by a local ruthless cattle owner named Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford). Past sins emerge as the truth about the stranger is revealed. But before retribution can be taken, bright lights appear and flying ships snatch townsfolk from above the city. With just rifles, their horses, and a bit of courage, a band of unlikely heroes ride after the ships to rescue the captured and defeat this new terrifying species.


Cowboys & Aliens ticks all of the boxes for a good, action-packed summer movie. However, it does have a few marks against it, including excessive violence and foul language. Though it’s only rated PG-13, it has got to be at the top of what the MPAA considers to be appropriate for that rating level.

Based on the 2006 graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg, Cowboys & Aliens pairs the do-what-ever-it-takes attitude of a cowboy with the domination-seeking alien plot and gets an intriguing story about courage and redemption. The two distinctly different genres marry well together. The film also contains significant faith moments, surprisingly enough.

British actor Daniel Craig (the current 007) plays the rough and tumble cowboy well, as does his on-screen counterpart, Harrison Ford. Craig personifies his character to a tee, engaging the audience as his personal story is revealed and his arc is developed. Ford gives a great performance as the old town bully, making this role his best in years. The Western definitely suits these two gents. Their supporting actors, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Keith Carradine, and Paul Dano, round out the well-picked cast.

Favreau in the director’s chair was a plus. He pulled from his resources and talent to make a popcorn movie that has more than just action flair. It was funny and felt authentic, and not in the least bit campy, which would have been easy to do. Film composer Harry Gregson-Williams (The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian) lends his scoring talent to Cowboys & Aliens creating orchestral music that sets the tone for the film. The film sets and scenery couldn’t have been better planned or captured. The aliens themselves are sufficiently scary creatures with a bit of slime thrown in for the gross-out effect.

Cowboys & Aliens does have its faults. One irking omission in the plot is the unresolved issue of why the aliens really need what they are on Earth to obtain. Also, the script allows for some very violent scenes with blood from both sides spilling and quite a bit of profanity and obscenities.


Cowboys & Aliens offers an engaging story and rollercoaster ride at the movies this weekend with only a few bumps along the way. Just be aware that it is rated PG-13 for several reasons, namely intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.

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About The Author


Hannah Goodwyn served as a Senior Producer for, managing and writing for the award-winning website. After her undergraduate studies at Christopher Newport University, Hannah went on to study Journalism at the graduate level. In 2005, she graduated summa cum laude with her Master's from Regent University and was honored with an Outstanding Student Award. From there, Hannah began work as a content producer for For ten years, she acted as the managing producer for the website's Family and Entertainment sections. A movie buff, Hannah felt right at home working as's