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Cowboys & Aliens Review Critics


Dave White Profile

See Rango instead. Read full review


Grae Drake Profile

Has both cowboys and aliens in it. Period. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 3.0

    out of 100

    Mixed or average reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    Cowboys versus aliens is a concept that may make you smile in anticipation, but wipe that smile off your face before buying your ticket.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    Dialogue is terse and predictable, and the sci-fi thriller portion is even less compelling than the Western saga.

    Read Full Review

  • 58

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Cowboys & Aliens has fun moments, but it's a plodding entertainment because it mostly tastes like leftovers.

    Read Full Review

  • 80

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    The key to its success lies in the determination by everyone involved to play the damn thing straight. Even the slightest goofiness, the tiniest touch of camp, and the whole thing would blow sky high. But it doesn't.

    Read Full Review

  • See all Cowboys & Aliens reviews at

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

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.

  • 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?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Meacham tells Jake that it "doesn't matter who you were, only who you are," and that's the movie's main lesson (well, aside from the fact that in the face of a violent alien invasion, human beings should ignore their differences and work together).

  • rolemodels true1

    Role models: Most of the characters are deeply flawed, but there are still a few role models: Meacham is selfless and kind, and he even sacrifices his own safety to help Emmett and Jake. Ella puts herself in harm's way to help the others, and Jake, despite his criminal past, proves himself a hero.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Lots of violence, starting with the opening sequence, when Jake kills or incapacitates three men in short order -- with a knife, a gun, and his fists. Dolarhyde has a man punished by tying him up and letting a horse drag his body away. Expect lots of explosions and a high body count, especially when the aliens (which are frightening) start attacking -- they crush people and bite and feed on them. People shoot, slash, and throw arrows at the aliens, occasionally impaling them with spears. Blood from medical experiments; wounds shown. In a couple of scenes, the aliens nearly kill a young boy, and one shot of the aliens will make audiences jump.

  • sex false2

    Sex: A couple of big kisses -- one of which is pretty intense -- plus a few mentions of prostitution and references to a "whore." A female character is shown naked from the waist up, but only from the back.

  • language false3

    Language: Language includes "damn," "goddammit," "bulls--t," "s--t," "pecker," "hell," "son of a bitch," "ass," and "stupid."

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not applicable

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: As in most Westerns, most of the cowboys congregate at a saloon, where everyone drinks, including the town preacher, who swigs out of a bottle of liquor he's using to clean a wound. Some characters are clearly drunk. Jake does shots of whiskey; a couple of cowboys are shown drunk or with cigars or cigarettes, including Jake, who rolls his own and then smokes it. Jake also participates in a Native American ritual that involves drinking tea that makes him hallucinate.