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"Cowboys & Aliens* is a culmination of four decades of summer movies - CinemaDave

Jul. 26th, 2011 10:51 pm "Cowboys & Aliens* is a culmination of four decades of summer movies

Forty Summers ago, I saw my first western on the big screen, **Big Jake,** a box office champion that particular summer. **Big Jake** starred John Wayne, his family, his stock company, featured gorgeous landscapes and a morality tale about family values. The Duke’s grandson, Brendan Wayne was born the following year and now has a small role (as the Sheriff Taggart’s Deputy) in the current box office champion, **Cowboys &
Aliens.**

The film opens when an amnesiac cowboy named Jake (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the desert with a strange device attached to his forearm. Jake strolls into town and runs afoul Percy (Paul Dano), a spoiled brat son of a cattle baron, Colonel Dollar Hyde (Harrison Ford), It turns out that Dollarhyde and Jake have a bad history together and are headed for a show down.

As a torch bearing vigilante prepares a lynching, a strange light comes out of the sky. Within moments the townspeople witness their neighbors get lassoed into the sky. Jake and Dollarhyde put aside their differences to rescue friends and families who have been abducted by sky demons.

With a title like **Cowboys & Aliens,** one does not need to look deeper for a theological subtext. The sky demons are aliens from outer space, with petty motivations. In fact, the science fiction aspect of this film is routine, yet this film excels when it remains a western.

The best thing about **Cowboys *& Aliens** are the ensemble characters. Character actor Sam Rockwell is given some rare moments to shine as a everyman bartender. Sheriff Keith Carradine, Pastor Clancy Brown and ranch hand Adam Beach are given genuine moments of character development with an economy of time.

While top billed Daniel Craig recall’s Clint Eastwood’s younger days, **Cowboys & Aliens** can be seen as Harrison Ford’s comeback film. Looking more like George “Gaby” Hayes than Indian Jones, Ford creates a whole character. While gruff most of the time, Dollarhyde is given some quiet moments to shine with a boy who soon become an orphan.

While the showdown with the aliens gets a bit clunky towards the end, director Jon Favreau makes up for it by providing great visuals of cowboys riding across the range on horseback. **Cowboys & Aliens** succeeds a Saturday Matinee popcorn eating entertainment, but I doubt it will have the durability of **Big Jake.**

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