Cowboys and Aliens

July 29th 2011
  • Sci-Fi/Western,
  • PG-13,
  • 118 min,
  • Dreamworks Pictures
  • Cast: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Keith Carradine, Noah Ringer, David O'Hara, Paul Dano, Ana de la Reguera, Clancy Brown, Adam Beach, Abigail Spencer, Walton Goggins, Raoul Trujillo, Toby Huss, Buck Taylor, Chris Browning, Brendan Wayne, Julio Cedillo, Matthew Taylor, Kenny Call, Cooper Taylor, Troy Gilbert, Chad Randall
  • Director: Jon Favreau
  • Writers: Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Damon Lindelof
  • Producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci, Scott Mitchell Rosenberg
  • Co Producers: Daniel Forcey, K.C. Hodenfield
  • Associate Producer: Karen Johnson
  • Executive Producers: Bobby Cohen, Jon Favreau, Ryan Kavanaugh, Steven Spielberg, Denis L. Stewart
  • Art Directions: Christopher Burian-Mohr, Daniel T. Dorrance
  • Casting: Sarah Finn
  • Costume Design: Mary Zophres
  • D.O.P.: Matthew Libatique
  • Editor: Dan Lebental
  • Makeup: Jane Galli
  • Music: Harry Gregson-Williams
  • Production Design: Scott Chambliss
  • Set Decoration: Karen Manthey


The Old West.. where a lone cowboy leads an uprising against a terror from beyond our world. 1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist.

What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don't welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It's a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky.

Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he's been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force.

With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.

Basic Information

  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Filming Locations: New Mexico, USA
  • MPAA Warning: Intense sequences of western and sci-fi action and violence, some partial nudity and a brief crude reference.
  • Production Budget: $140 million
  • Production Companies: Universal Pictures, DreamWorks SKG, Reliance Big Entertainment, Relativity Media, Imagine Entertainment, Kurtzman/Orci, Platinum Studios, Fairview Entertainment
  • Production Schedule: 30 June 2010 - 30 September 2010

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2011 Guide Analysis: "2011 is shaping up to be the Summer of untested superheroes with three of the most challenging top-level comic properties that remain unadapted getting their first real chance on the big screen (the low-budget 1990 'Captain' film notwithstanding). While "Green Lantern" is essentially unknown, and most are unaware that "Thor" exists outside of Norse mythology, "Captain America" at least has some name recognition as comic book hero outside of geekdom. Yet part of that recognition is due to the character being seen as such an anachronism these days, a symbol of a time back in the mid-20th century when naive jingoistic patriotism wasn't just respected but idealised.

Cut to today however, a character like Steve Rogers is tremendously difficult to adapt. Keeping the tone as is, the film will likely do well in the States but would be laughed out of theatres throughout the rest of the world. Tone it down, global audiences would still have some problems, while right-wing pundits in the U.S. would be screaming that "Captain America" is now anti-America and we might unfortunately have to witness Glenn Beck slip on a blue spandex bodysuit in protest. Another possibility is to strip it down so completely as to be unrecognisable from the original, though we already saw that with the excrement that was "G.I. Joe".

To be fair Marvel actually came up with a decent solution for this by setting the story during the Second World War. With a tone akin to "Raiders of the Lost Ark", namely the search for an artifact with the Nazis as the antagonists, there's an old fashioned adventure feel here where things are more clear cut and the flag waving doesn't come with so much baggage. The first clip screened at Comic Con gave us a decidedly unimpressive costume test shot for the Captain, but also showed an engaging tomb-set scene with a pre-transformed Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) doing his best evil Nazi routine.

The casting of Chris Evans isn't a perfect fit. A strong young actor with good comedic timing who was the best thing about the odious "Fantastic Four" films, Evans certainly buffed up for the role with astonishing looking muscles in early photos from the set. Yet I don't really see him as the character, and neither does a lot of fans judging from the online feedback. It's not as obvious a miscasting as Ryan Reynolds (an actor who is PERFECT for The Flash but seems awkward as Green Lantern), but Evans will have to deliver something special if he wants to own the character.

The supporting cast is absolutely stellar, from household names like Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L. Jackson, to truly brilliant character actors like Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci and Toby Jones. There's also handsome leading men like Richard Armitage, Dominic Cooper and the fascinating Sebastian Stan alongside gorgeous and promising actresses Hayley Atwell and Natalie Dormer.

Behind the camera is more of a question. The scribes involved penned the strong teleplay for HBO's "The Life and Death of Peter Sellers", but their only other feature credits so far have been the three decidedly lacking "Chronicles of Narnia" adaptations. Filmmaker Joe Johnston is a solid director who can do enjoyable big budget studio features (ala "Jurassic Park III," "The Rocketeer," "Hidalgo"), but he's also someone who sticks to a very straight forward and safe style which means we probably won't see anything beyond a competently directed blockbuster here.

The other worry is the 'Avengers' effect. The forced tie-ins to the upcoming Marvel team-up film were a big factor in "Iron Man 2" being such a disappointment. Here the enjoyment of a period-specific self contained adventure film could be disrupted by the blunt insertions of Marvel Universe elements that don't fit - a point driven home in the Comic Con clip where a glowing blue cube from Thor's realm feels decidedly out of place with the rest of the scene. Of course that was rough footage shot only a day or two beforehand, in the final film the effect may not be so bad. In some ways this is more of a gamble than any of the other superhero films of the Summer, lets see if it comes up a winner."

Trailers & Clips

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Worldwide Release Dates

  • 29 July 2011: India
  • 5 August 2011: Italy
  • 9 August 2011: Singapore
  • 11 August 2011: Netherlands, Thailand
  • 12 August 2011: Lithuania
  • 18 August 2011: Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia
  • 19 August 2011: Ireland, UK
  • 24 August 2011: France
  • 25 August 2011: Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Portugal
  • 26 August 2011: Colombia, Paraguay, Poland, Sweden
  • 2 September 2011: Finland, Norway
  • 16 September 2011: Japan, Turkey