I'm not a huge fan of summer action movies. Big explosions and wild effects generally don't do much for me, especially when they're there in place of story, characters or anything else that makes a good movie good (*cough* Transformers *cough*). That being said, I had a blast with Cowboys & Aliens, a summer blockbuster that is as much of a good movie as it is a display of some pretty seriously kickass action and effects. At the same time, the film knows exactly what kind of film it is and is completely comfortable being that gloriously over the top and wild ride with one main intention; giving the audience a fun night out at the movies. Unlike many alien themed flicks of late, Cowboys & Aliens doesn't feel the need to deliver any kind of preachy message or really even have any point, and for that I admire it greatly. Who really cares why the aliens are there? All that matters is that they are and that a motley crue of cowboys, indians and thieves are gonna try and stop them. The film literally plays out like watching a kickass John Wayne western that gets hijacked by vicious alien beings halfway through and it's just pure fun from start to finish, no matter which of the two genres it's focusing on at any given time. The two different films (the western & the alien invasion) are both pulled off quite competently and go figure, they work pretty damn well mashed together.
The cast all around is solid, including Paul Dano, Sam Rockwell, the stunning and serviceable Olivia Wilde and Harrison Ford (as somewhat of a bad guy for a change), but the real standout here is Daniel Craig, for my money the most kickass manly man that's come to the big screen since The Governator. Channeling the likes of Eastwood and Wayne, Craig is at his captivating and ass kicking best as Jake Lonergan, a man with no memory who wakes up in the middle of the desert at the start of the film with an alien device strapped to his wrist. As much as I love to watch Craig kick ass and take names, he also makes me feel like a total pussy. Now that's a real man. I'm not quite sure what I am.
Whether he's directing elves or iron men, Jon Favreau once again proves that he can always be relied on for one thing; giving us our money's worth. Full of laughs, action, cowboys, aliens and even some great moments of Harrison Ford blowing away afformentioned giant aliens(!), this may very well be the action movie of the summer. It's not my favorite alien invasion flick of the year, but it's not really fair to compare this to Super 8 either (Spielberg had his hands on both and both concern fairly similar looking creatures, but that's about where the similarities end). Cowboys & Aliens is a wild and over the top graphic novel come to life and if you're into just sitting back and having a blast at the movies, I can't recommend it enough. Consider your $11.50 well spent. And treat yourself to a bucket of buttery popcorn while you're at it.