Box art for Cowboys & Aliens

Cowboys & Aliens

action & adventure, drama, westerns


From the director of Iron Man and starring Daniel Craig and Harrison Ford, an unlikely posse rises against a force from beyond this world in an epic showdown for survival.

Rotten Tomatoes® scores

  • Critic Score
    44%
  • Audience Score
    44%

common sense

ON for kids age 13
Consumerism
0 out of 5
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
3 out of 5
Language
3 out of 5
Positive messages
2 out of 5
Positive role models
1 out of 5
Sex
2 out of 5
Violence
4 out of 5

Cool but predictable sci-fi Western has lots of violence.

what parents need to know

Parents need to know that this Western/sci-fi hybrid will definitely appeal to boys and fans of the two stars -- the new Bond (Daniel Craig) and the former Indy (Harrison Ford) -- but there are some violent scenes that may be too intense for tweens. Although it's light on romance -- just a couple of kisses and a few references to a prostitute -- the movie is heavy with explosive action (shootings, stabbings, and gruesome aliens) and has a high body count. Language includes words like "s--t" and "damn," and alcohol consumption is fairly high, considering that the cowboys spend most of their downtime drinking in a saloon. Despite a generally positive message about people banding together to fight a common enemy, the movie's violence can be overwhelming.

what families can talk about

  • Families can talk about the merging of the two genres. Which aspect worked better -- the Western or the sci-fi parts?
  • How was the violence handled in the movie? Was there too much, or was it necessary to the story?
  • When you see actors in a movie, do you think about the other parts they've played in the past? How does that affect the way you react to them and their actions?

movie reviews from Rotten Tomatoes®

  • Tomatometer®

    44%
    reviews counted: 20
    see all Cowboys & Aliens reviews
  • Audience

    44%

Top Critic Reviews

Fresh: It may be two treats in one, but for an audience that's pigged out on spectacle all summer, that might be two treats too many.

- Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, Friday, July 29, 2011

Rotten: What started as 'True Grit'-meets-'War of the Worlds' ends up closer to - whisper it - 'Wild Wild West'.

- Anna Smith, Time Out, Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Rotten: Takes itself much too seriously, with acts of brutality outnumbering the gags.

- Anthony Lane, New Yorker, Monday, August 8, 2011

Audience Reviews

4 stars

Totally entertaining! James Bond and Indiana Jones work together to battle against aliens in Western. Directed by Jon Favreau - as much harking back to his overlooked Zathura (2005) as Iron Man (2009) - Cowboys & Aliens put its not-too-many human characters front and centre. A straightforward, linear plot is also offered; lean, rather than bloated and, while skipping over a few gaping holes, it largely makes sense. Along the way is delivered pleasing action sequences, during which you can actually make out what's going on. The visual effects assist rather than burden the storytelling adding to the atmosphere (instead of sucking it out). Favreau's genre mash-up is not groundbreaking or perfect, but it is traditional and charming - and that counts for a lot. Cowboys & Aliens also feels refreshingly unsterilised. The lead character smokes. There is a scene in which a child is given a knife as a gift and, later, uses it to stab an alien to death. The whole production has a gritty, sweaty, blood-smeared look, recalling the revisionist "oaters" of the late '60s onwards, as opposed to the crisper offerings of the genre's golden age. This ain't aliens versus Shane; it's aliens versus The Man With No Name and The Wild Bunch. Bullets, arrows, spears, teeth and claws puncture flesh, with gouts of blood flowing. Wounds need sewing up and spent gun-barrels sear skin. One action beat even sees an alien being messily offed by dynamite... tethered to a dagger. As the Clint-esque, amnesiac bad-hat Jake Lonergan, Daniel Craig is an intense presence; laconic, simmering and brutal, a creature of bone-snapping action rather than whip-smart wit. Along him we have Harrison Ford's town-bullying ranch-man who shifts gears from leathery grump mode (at the outset) to something with a glimmer of his Dr. Jones twinkle. Ford's occasional interjections prove welcome, including one which viewers will be tempted to imagine was the actor's own reaction to the script. At a campfire conflab, it is revealed that the green, bug-eyed interlopers are on Earth because there's gold in that planet. Even so, Lonergan and Dolarhyde make for a dour pairing, both characters defined by loss, tragedy and inky-dark pasts. There's none of the Iron Man films' sense of irreverence - just grim people dealing with a grim situation. There's little lightness from the supporting cast, either. Olivia Wilde is a shimmering, otherworldly presence in a multi-layered yet underwritten romantic-interest role, Sam Rockwell jitters and whines as a rattled barkeep and Adam Beach pines for a father-figure as one of Ford's stooges.

- deano, Sunday, February 17, 2013

4 stars

Totally entertaining! James Bond and Indiana Jones work together to battle against aliens in Western. Directed by Jon Favreau - as much harking back to his overlooked Zathura (2005) as Iron Man (2009) - Cowboys & Aliens put its not-too-many human characters front and centre. A straightforward, linear plot is also offered; lean, rather than bloated and, while skipping over a few gaping holes, it largely makes sense. Along the way is delivered pleasing action sequences, during which you can actually make out what's going on. The visual effects assist rather than burden the storytelling adding to the atmosphere (instead of sucking it out). Favreau's genre mash-up is not groundbreaking or perfect, but it is traditional and charming - and that counts for a lot. Cowboys & Aliens also feels refreshingly unsterilised. The lead character smokes. There is a scene in which a child is given a knife as a gift and, later, uses it to stab an alien to death. The whole production has a gritty, sweaty, blood-smeared look, recalling the revisionist "oaters" of the late '60s onwards, as opposed to the crisper offerings of the genre's golden age. This ain't aliens versus Shane; it's aliens versus The Man With No Name and The Wild Bunch. Bullets, arrows, spears, teeth and claws puncture flesh, with gouts of blood flowing. Wounds need sewing up and spent gun-barrels sear skin. One action beat even sees an alien being messily offed by dynamite... tethered to a dagger. As the Clint-esque, amnesiac bad-hat Jake Lonergan, Daniel Craig is an intense presence; laconic, simmering and brutal, a creature of bone-snapping action rather than whip-smart wit. Along him we have Harrison Ford's town-bullying ranch-man who shifts gears from leathery grump mode (at the outset) to something with a glimmer of his Dr. Jones twinkle. Ford's occasional interjections prove welcome, including one which viewers will be tempted to imagine was the actor's own reaction to the script. At a campfire conflab, it is revealed that the green, bug-eyed interlopers are on Earth because there's gold in that planet. Even so, Lonergan and Dolarhyde make for a dour pairing, both characters defined by loss, tragedy and inky-dark pasts. There's none of the Iron Man films' sense of irreverence - just grim people dealing with a grim situation. There's little lightness from the supporting cast, either. Olivia Wilde is a shimmering, otherworldly presence in a multi-layered yet underwritten romantic-interest role, Sam Rockwell jitters and whines as a rattled barkeep and Adam Beach pines for a father-figure as one of Ford's stooges.

- deano, Sunday, February 17, 2013

3 stars

An outlaw with total amnesia teams up with the local townsfolk, his old gang and the last surviving members of an Apache tribe to rescue their people stolen away by body snatching aliens. I have to say that the little kid inside of me loved the idea of matching six gun toting outlaws against flying saucers and the set up to Cowboys & Aliens actually lives up to the idea really well. Daniel Craig makes an extremely charismatic tough guy with no name and the opening scenes as he tries to discover what happened to him are great. It does lose its way a little as the aliens creep more and more into the story but it throws itself into the preposterous premise with such abandon you can't help but get carried away by its sheer enthusiasm. It would have been a more satisfying experience if we'd learned more about the aliens, rather than them being relegated to bug-eyed monster duties but Favreau has proven that he has a flair for unpretentious entertainment and this is another example; it certainly won't win any awards for originality, but it is reasonably good fun.

- garyX, Monday, August 26, 2013