I've read a few reviews of Cowboys & Aliens and also read a few article that reference the movie. I have to say, I'm not really understanding the negativity that is being directed towards the film. There has been some positive reviews, such as the reviews by Roger Ebert or Red Letter Media. As my readers know, I gave the film a strong review as well. But for the most part, people are marking it as a disappointment or a failure in the alien invasion genre (one article pegged both this movie and Super 8 as failures). While I am all for people being entitled to their opinion and not liking a film that I enjoyed, I just don't understand the criticisms being waged.
The best I can figure out, is the source of dislike is coming from misguided expectations of what type of film it was going to be. The title Cowboys & Aliens gives you the impression it is either going to be a comedy or a very tongue in cheek in science fiction campfest. People may have gone in with the belief they were going to see a big budget version of a B-film. Or at least, this summer's attempt of Snakes on a Plane
Cowboys & Aliens isn't any of those things, nor does it even try. Instead, it is a movie that answers the question, "What would happen if aliens invaded the old west." It then tries to answer that question in the most serious and 'realistic' fashion possible. It is a serious science fiction film that is trying to do a very different take on the alien invasion genre (or could say, trying to go a different route with the wild west genre).
The marketing department may have actually hurt the film. The film probably should have been given a different title, in order to avoid people expecting something entirely different. The posters also give off the feel of a big budget camp film, and so the marketing material could have been better geared towards the film that was produced. If they changed the expectations people had for this movie, then it may have had a chance at being better received.
Cowboys & Aliens was far from a great film. It isn't even one of the best films this year. It doesn't deserve any Oscar nominations, other than those for effects and costumes. It isn't a film that revolutionized the industry or even a film you're going to remember that well a week from now. But as a summer pop corn muncher, its a pretty good movie. For the world that was established, the film stayed true and 'realistic'. The plotting was tight and the action was satisfying. For what it was supposed to be, I thought the film hit the mark rather well.
Sometimes reviewers have unfair expectations of a film. You can't compare this movie with Citizen Kane or even Hurt Locker. But it doesn't try to be that type of film. But for a movie that tries to reveal what would happen if aliens invaded the old west, I thought it did very well. Most importantly, I want to have fun when watching a summer blockbuster and that is exactly what I had.