Cowboys and Aliens vs. Harry Potter

Blazing space ships, suspense, horses, Indians, love, tight chaps with eye candy rears and piercing blue eyes like Steve McQueen are all part of the "Cowboy and Aliens" adventure film which has several important messages creeping through its science-fiction extraterrestrial elements.  Harry Potter has nothing over this film with the imagination and surprises that make the viewer give the screen writers credit for creative content and almost two hours of excitement and intrigue.

This film reaches back to the love of Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Fist Full of Dollars and John Wayne then brings the cosmic childlike future into the storyline with the twist of old western lessons. 

There was a little hesitation to see this movie based on the trailer but since the choices this summer have not been abundant for good entertainment we decided to go see the film on our Wednesday date day.  Not reading the reviews in the New York or Los Angeles Times prior to seeing a film is a standard I adhere to so I can judge for myself if the content moves me. I paid my money and can take my chances.  I was happy to say that I did not want my money back like I did after seeing Friends with Benefits and Bridesmaids. I even wanted my pop money back after watching those two losers. 

Larry Crowne was a movie I reviewed last month which had a similar outcome with the BIG DEAL reviewers.  The "powers that be"  just didn't "Get It" but the message was there waiting to be found.  Realize that I am that person who takes notes in any movie. I cried in the first five minutes of Land Before Time and to my daughters dismay when she was 7 took copious notes in Lion King so if there is a message to be shared, I am going to find it.  Now the point of dissension for the reader will be if we get the same message.

  • The film Stars:  Daniel Craig (James Bond), Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones), Olivia Wilde (Tron), Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2), Adam Beach, Paul Dano, Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine and Noah Ringer.
  • Director: Jon Favreau (Iron Man)
  • Power producers: Brian Grazer, Ron Howard, Ryan Kavanaugh, Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci and Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (original novel inspired the film)
  • Executive producers: Steven Spielberg and Denis L. Stewart
  • Written by: Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Star Trek), Damon Lindelof (Lost), Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby, based on a screen story by MarkFergus, Hawk Ostby and Steve Oedekerk and the graphic novel by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg;
  • Released by Universal Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures/Reliance Entertainment. Running time: 1 hour 58 minutes                      

The interviews with Daniel Craig and John Favreau found them sharing the ultimate goal of the film to get the viewer emotionally engaged.  Submersion into the plot was easy as the viewer could feel his pain as Daniel Craig awoke in the desert of New Mexico with a foreign object/bracelet on his wrist, no boots, an open wound and no memory.  The story continues with his journey to find out who he was and why he was there. A question that all "thinking" viewers might even ask themselves on occasion.   Taking that theme deeper the film goes forward showing greed and power as "demons" the cowboys have to deal with.  Several versions of love come through loud and clear with family relationships and communication skills. I only cried once so take that for what it's worth.  

The theme of vampires, aliens and mutants seems to be popular with the young adult group today which is hard for me to get my head around and westerns are really off the radar. A friend of mine shared that the vampire infatuation was really from the dark side and trying to keep people from seeing the light.  That specific train of thought may not be on your radar but I am happy to say that the dark side of Cowboys and Aliens ends with the light coming on.   

Harrison Ford delivers the performance he is known for, a little grouchy but solid.  He makes you believe in the character and empathize with his feelings.  He has a "cowboy hat" and no whip so he is NOT Indiana Jones he is setting a new bar as a vintage actor entertaining the masses and delivers a message about life.

Daniel Craig is a cross between Steve McQueen and Clint Eastwood in this film.  It was hard to think he could be so credible as a cowboy when he is such an incredible James Bond.  Transitioning the cowboy character for me  was like thinking of Lloyd Bridges in a role other than Sea Hunt. Daniel makes the transition and delivers a credible performance.  Now all the readers who don't like the film won't relate to Lloyd Bridges analogy because they were not alive for Sea Hunt, but this is ok.  Vintage participants can keep it to ourselves and silently chuckle or LOL. 

The story has a love theme between a man and a woman interrupted by a value issue and identity crises.  Greed and power is another vein with a father and a son which spills over to extended family members.  A racial conflict and several power struggles with domination which lead to conflict resolution via communication and execution of working a plan through life threatening situations.  There is no time to "zone out" keeping all the storylines working in your mind.  There are messages but it will be up to you and your value system to identify which ones are visible.   

Some of the lines that show the depth of the message. 

"You know who you are, you just have to remember."

"….. made the world a better place."

"….. took your gold….. when you get to hell you can ask for it back."

"Can you swim?"  Picture Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid.

"… studying their weakness…… came to make sure it would not happen again."

"Open your hearts and learn more from others." 

"I always dreamed of riding into battle with you….. I always dreamed of having a son like you."

"Stop thinking and you can be free" 

"If I can get into the core….."

Bottom line… this is entertainment and you will not be disappointed so go see Cowboys and Aliens it has as much intrigue and creativity as Harry Potter. 

Follow Cowboys and Aliens on facebook and twitter.

About Carra Riley

Fun loving classic writer who is a life long learner. Helping people connect the dots as a consultant for small business and real estate along with custom workshops and seminars.


  1. So skip Friends With Benefits and go see this. Very good to know as a movie is a rare treat for me these days!

  2. Jenny,  Friends with Benefits was just sex.. what can I say….. yes, there was a message but it wasn't a good one with how the entire single scene is portrayed.. I guess it is what is it.. but I don't want to pay to watch it… So go to Cowboys and Aliens… you won't be dissapointed if you liked what I had to write.  NY and LA times did NOT like it.  The viewer comments on facebook are good.  Thanks for stopping by! 

  3. I'm glad I read your article – I have been wondering whether to go watch it or not, because the idea of putting cowboys and aliens together seemed rather strange for me. But I'm a big sci-fi fan, and it sounds like a lot of fun.
    Thanks for posting!

    • PHC,

      You will enjoy it.. has a message and fun speical effects come back and let us know what you thought!

  4. I hesitated to see Cowboys and Aliens, but after seeing it, It was worth it. The messages are important, to bad I missed most of them. It was uplifting to see the out laws join in the Battle against the Aliens.
    J.L. Manning

    • JL,

      I am always looking for the backstory!  My husband says my legs should always be tired jumping to conclusions… but glad to hear you enjoyed it.  I wasn't sure but glad we went.  Going to see "The Help" tomorrow so will post and let you know the messages I get there too!  Thanks for stopping by. 

    • J.L.  Stopped by your website.. left a comment, followed you on Twitter and liked your facebook page.  I can't wait to read more about your Mars adventures.  Of course they are all Cosmic to me!