owboys and Aliens is full of unlikely combinations. The film, set in a fictional 1870s Arizona town that's abruptly invaded by aliens, merges traditional western and sci-fi genres. Its star-pairing of Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig brings together echoes of their most iconic roles, Indiana Jones and James Bond respectively. With the movie's big budget, popular graphic novel source material, and buzzed-about director (Iron Man's Jon Favreau), are cowboys and aliens summer’s most satisfyingly unlikely pair? (Watch a trailer for the movie.)
It's a "thrilling mashup of genres": Cowboys and Aliens' "kooky arrangement" of two classic genres — and their cliches — really works, says Jon Niccum at The Kansas City Star. The setup so authentically honors classic western films that the audience is happily caught off guard when the aliens arrive. "They're horrifying," but Cowboys and Aliens is "one of the true crowd-pleasers of the summer."
"Cowboys and Aliens: A crazy, thrilling ride"
The best part is "Bond meets Indy": There's a Hollywood saying that you should be able to pitch any movie in 25 words or less, says Glen Levy at TIME. For this movie, three would "do the trick": "Bond meets Indy." Craig and Ford's signature heroes resonate widely, and you can "hardly go wrong" by pairing the actors onscreen. It certainly helps, too, that Ford could play a hardened cowboy "with his eyes closed."
"Friday flicks: Is Cowboys and Aliens a better title than Bond Meets Indy?"
Actually, it disappoints: Anyone who hoped that these "familiar pop-movie elements" would yield a "tasty, original flavor" once combined will be sorely disappointed, says Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly. Cowboys and Aliens "tastes like leftovers." It never manages to be "greater than the sum of its clichés," failing to infuse the ingredients with humor or innovation.
"Cowboys and Aliens"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why I'm a pro-life liberal
- 31 TV shows to watch in 2014
- He said he was leaving. She ignored him.
- If a nuclear bomb exploded in downtown Washington, what should you do?
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Ukraine can fend off the Russians, in 7 simple steps
- These stunning travel photos remind us that we're all just amateurs with iPhones
- Why we can't stop procrastinating, according to science
- Israel and Russia are getting along. Have the neocons noticed?
- 10 things you need to know today: April 16, 2014
Subscribe to the Week