There was a lot said at the time the film was released that it was a ridiculous idea to have cowboys battling aliens but to me it is no more ridiculous than having an alien film set in the modern day and is a refreshing take on the genre. The Western sets and costumes look great and most of the cast fit the bill of Wild West inhabitants. The only person who doesn’t is Olivia Wilde who looks completely out of place with salon shaped eyebrows and GHD straightened hair. While Craig and Ford et al look the part in their costumes, her tight and clingy dress doesn’t look right either. I think her look was misjudged in an obvious attempt to attract a teenage male audience.
Jon Favreau’s direction is fine and he balances the fast paced sci-fi action with the slower western style of wide open vistas and gruff dialogue. The aliens are also well designed and look scary in enclosed spaces. When out in the open they lose their menace slightly but still look good.
I thought that the acting was also fine. Daniel Craig produces a convincing accent and suits the role. Harrison Ford is also good and seems well suited to the role he is playing. Sam Rockwell is under used and Olivia Wilde does well in her few scenes in which she has to act. The supporting cast is excellent and helps to fill out the Old West world that the film creates.
So far I’ve had few complaints but my main problem with the film is that it’s really dull. There are aliens - Fighting cowboys - With lasers and stuff! But I felt really bored for most of the film and I was only really interested in finding out about how Daniel Craig came to be in the desert with a metal thing on his arm. I’m very surprised that the film wasn’t more exciting and it doesn’t live up to its title. Another problem was that the script made the action far too predictable. It is obvious for instance that Sam Rockwell’s inability to shoot will turn around and he will save someone. It is also obvious that Harrison Ford will admit to liking the Indian boy he bought up but seems to dislike. Also, there is a rather obvious mention of dynamite which comes back towards the end. The script is full of this sort of thing and everything is laid out in giant capital letters with few surprises or twists.
The film could learn something from Snakes on a Plane which is much more enjoyable. The film is played completely straight and I think it would have benefited from a bit of camp or even just a bit more comedy.
Overall the film has a really interesting idea at its centre and is well acted by a solid cast but doesn’t live up to its premise and takes itself too seriously.