A man wakes up in the middle of nowhere with no recollection of who he is or what he was doing before. He reaches a nearby town whose inhabitants are fearful of the ruthless cattle owner, Dolarhyde, and his arrogant, spoilt son, Percy. When the town is attacked by alien spaceships and residents abducted, the men of the town (and the mysterious woman, Ella) must work together in order to stop the aliens and rescue their loved ones before it is too late.

Cowboys & Aliens (2011) – Director: Jon Favreau

Is Cowboys & Aliens appropriate for kids

Rating: 12

Running Length: 119 mins

Starring: Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde

Genre: Action, Science Fiction, Western


Based on the graphic novel of the same name, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is a blend of 2 incredibly different genres – westerns and science fiction. While seeming to be a complete clash of concepts which could have made it ridiculous, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ manages to pull off a straight-faced action movie which somehow never become too serious. The plot revolves around Daniel Craig’s character, a very strong lead whose amnesia brings a mild weakness to him without jeopardising his tough persona. Harrison Ford is Dolarhyde, the ruthless cattleman whose character thankfully develops along with the plot to be more than just a grizzled old man.

While many critics seemed to dislike the clash of genres, the blend actually enhances both the old-timey western feel and the futuristic sci-fi look. The plot is exciting, engaging yet easy to follow and the characters are all well written and acted. By not being patronising to his audience, director, Favreau, has created a solid action movie which can be enjoyed by a wide range of people. There is no denying that ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is entertaining; it has also breathed fresh air into the tired western which is bound to be replicated in similar movies in the future. This unusual movie will keep you hooked until the end and is likely to become a firm favourite for kids for many years to come.


There are several action sequences throughout this movie, most resulting in people being shot or stabbed, however the gore is kept to a minimum and the gunshots tend to portray a small ‘puff’ of red blood emitted from the wound. Some wounds are shown in close up and while they are realistic, they are not graphic. There are also a few fist fights which are quite brutal but do not result in any serious harm coming to anyone involved.

Shortly after he wakes up, Daniel Craig’s character is approached by 3 bandits on horses. Each of them has several scooped out scalps hanging from their saddles which have long hair attached to them (implying that the victims were Native Americans). While the inside of the scalps are shown to camera and are quite bloody, they are not overly gory and are not mentioned at all in the dialogue.

The aliens are not seen in close-up until towards the end of the movie but are aggressive and scary. They kill humans without a second thought and are seen to use operating tables to conduct painful experiments on them. These scenes are brief and do not linger too much on the suffering of the people concerned. One scene that lasts around 1-2 minutes shows a man being stabbed with a glowing blade and he cries out in pain. Also during this scene, a woman is being pulled about by one of the aliens (who is standing over the operating table that she is lying on) although what is happening to her is kept ambiguous.

We have highlighted the strongest examples of violence in ‘Cowboys & Aliens’. Children who are able to watch these scenes should not have any issues with watching the violence which is present in the rest of the movie.



Surprisingly, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is relatively light when it comes to questionable content. It is less violent than films like ‘Men In Black 3’ which we recently recommended for children aged 8 and over. However, although its concept is somewhat fantastical, ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ is far more realistic and could therefore have a stronger effect on children than the more comedic Men In Black series. We therefore believe that this movie should be appropriate for kids aged 8 and over.

  • Violence:  3/5 (numerous action sequences resulting in people be stabbed and shot. The aliens often bite their victims to cause severe injuries. One man is stretched between 2 horses but is not killed. One character’s wrist is broken and another is incinerated by the aliens)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (several established characters are killed and while characters mourn for them, the emotional distress is kept to a minimum)
  • Fear Factor: 2/5 (the aliens are quite scary. There are a couple of moments that may make you jump!)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5 (some nudity of one female character for around 5 seconds but only her back and shoulders are seen. A male character then wraps a blanket around her)
  • Bad Language: 3/5 (mostly mild but also a few moderate curse words and blasphemy. The word ‘whore’ is used by a threatening character 3 times in quick succession in one scene)
  • Dialogue: 3/5 (references to people being killed, one by having their throat slit, one character tells another that their father knows how to kill people slowly although nothing more comes of this)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of courage, doing the right thing and fighting against threats even if the odds are stacked against you.

Words by Laura Record

Cowboys & Aliens [Blu-ray] [Region Free]

New From: £3.85 GBP In Stock

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