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Cowboys and Aliens

I had a lovely lunch with rsadelle and we went to see "Cowboys and Aliens," at my suggestion. Sorry, Ruth! I was actually enjoying the cheesy westernness of the first hour or so, but then I stopped liking it. (Major spoilers)

I was expecting Harrison Ford's character--who isn't a good guy anyway--to have period attitudes towards Native Americans, so the fact that he was a jerk to Nat, his adopted Indian kid, didn't bother me too much until Nat makes this speech to the Apache leader trying to convince him to work with Col. Dolarhyde, telling him basically what a great man he was for taking him in blah blah blah, and then later Nat dies saving Dolarhyde, and telling him he always wanted to ride into battle with him--UGH. Just ugh. Not to mention that most of the time the Apaches are portrayed as one big stereotype of Hollywood Indians, AND the only two women in the film both get killed.

To be fair, Ella (the alien woman) gets killed on a heroic mission saving the planet (one that she initiates, though her reasons aren't very clearly explained--I get why she wants to kill the other aliens but not what her investment in Earth is), and she's not really fridged, because she has her own agenda and agency--but I guess I really am sick of movies where all the women and POC get killed or turn evil. And it's not like this was such a well-written movie that one might overlook this stuff because other parts were good. It's a completely by-the-numbers western with totally stock characters; only the introduction of aliens makes it any different.

Anyway, on the way home we were brainstorming how this movie could have been better, so here are the "Top Ten Ways "Cowboys and Aliens" could have been worth watching":

1. If Harrison Ford (Col Dolarhyde) died for Nat, rather than vice-versa. Or if Percy (Dolarhyde's wastrel son) had redeemed himself by dying for Nat and Harrison For had given Nat the ranch as a sign he was his true son.

2. If the story were told from the POV of the Apache.

3. If the story were told from Ella's POV.

4. If we found out more about Ella's backstory. Hell, she's an alien with regenerative powers who lost her whole planet to invasion--her story has to be a hell of a lot more interesting than Dolarhyde's trauma at Antietam.

5. If Ella's regenerative powers turned out to be really powerful, and she came back. Maybe she was that hummingbird? (What was that, anyway? His spirit animal? His dead girlfriend's soul?)

6. If the story was told from the perspective of his dead girlfriend (who maybe turned out to be another regenerating alien). It was never explained why a prostitute would be living out in the middle of nowhere, anyway.

7. If Ella didn't die, and it turned out she only adopted a female form because she didn't understand human gender, and she could really be any gender she needed to be, and she & Jake rode off together.

8. We actually brainstormed a lot of versions of #7--she has multiple types of genitalia, she's actually a male but dressing as female, etc. etc. and of course Jake doesn't find this out until they have sex.

9. If the cute little boy (Emmett) also turned out to be a shape-shifting alien, working with Ella. Maybe he and his mom had both died the year before, and the alien took his place. OR Emmett is a shape-shifting alien, but he worked for the bad aliens.

10. The dog is actually a shape-shifting alien too.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 31st, 2011 11:45 pm (UTC)
I was so bored and unengaged in this movie. I am not a Daniel Craig fan, but I'd hoped it would be more fun and cheesy sci-fi rather than stoic western. I was talking to my friend after we got out of the movie, and we decided it would have been better if Jake had died and prostitute chick was the main, ass kicking character. She and Ella would have looked hot together. (I am very shallow.)

I agree completely with your ideas about Harrison Ford's character and family. I wanted to like that storyline, but it never clicked for me the way it was written.

The Doc's wife made it out alive and (seemingly) unscathed. She had a Hispanic flair, but she didn't get much agency or screen time.
Aug. 1st, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
Oh, yeah, it would have been much more interesting if Jake died and the prostitute was the one on the quest.

I did forget about the Doc's wife, you're right.
Aug. 1st, 2011 02:05 am (UTC)
It was an okay movie, but using any one or more of the ideas you mentioned would have made it awesome. I was also expecting more of a cowboy verison of steampunk going into the movie.

When Ella came back from the dead, all I could think about was the Phoenix saga from X-men.
Aug. 1st, 2011 03:22 am (UTC)
Hee! I was completely flabbergasted, to tell the truth, because I hadn't twigged to the fact that she was an alien.
Aug. 1st, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
This was like 75% of a great movie. I basically agree with all your issues with it, which is so disappointing because they really did meld the Western and Sci-Fi genres very well, and of course Daniel Craig was super-hot. But. *sigh*
Aug. 1st, 2011 03:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's really too bad. Great concept, but poor execution.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )


Nora (KK glasses)
Nora Norwich

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