Unfortunately though, the man in charge of this particular dinner party is Jon Favreau, he's working from a recipe by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, and between them they've managed to turn it into one of those toe-curling episodes of Come Dine With Me. Daniel Craig is standing around looking bored, Harrison Ford has finished off the Budgens wine by himself and is calling Sam Rockwell a gaylord and Steven Spielberg has snuck out the back door, hoping nobody notices he was even there.
In case that overlong metaphor isn't clear enough, here's the stone cold fact: Cowboys & Aliens is shit. Not Green Lantern shit or Tron: Legacy shit, just disappointingly shit, a crushing waste of a fantastic concept and an amazing cast. I'm fucking furious with Jon Favreau and if he came round my house for dinner I'd stuff him in the oven and cook him at gas mark 9 for eight hours until his juices ran clear. Then I'd feed him to the cat.
The script is equally to blame. Almost nothing happens for long stretches of screen time before a rushed, cursory and often nonsensical explanation of events or conveniently-remembered flashback pops up, while dull characters are given embarrassing clichés to fill the time. Sam Rockwell can't shoot straight for no good reason! A small boy is given a knife for no good reason! Could either of these tired plot devices crop up at crucial moments in the final act? Well, if you can stay awake through the overlong fun-vacuum of a finale, you might find out.
Annoyingly, everyone else involved in Cowboys & Aliens does their job flawlessly. Harry Gregson-Williams' western-y music is great, Mary Zophres' costumes are entirely convincing without screaming "LOOK AT ME, I'M AN AUTHENTIC 1880s WAISTCOAT!" and the production design and cinematography complete the period realism. What's more, the alien effects - which, refreshingly, mostly take place in broad daylight - are a successful blend of CGI and animatronics. Sadly, though, none of this is enough to save the film from the incompetence of its writers and director, and I for one would like it very much if all of them would stop making films and go away.