What I Learned From Cowboys & Aliens

Man, Cowboys & Aliens. What a movie. Did I go into it expecting something great? Absolutely not, which made it kind of awesomely terrible. Maybe? Not really. I was turned off by a few things, mostly the overt sexualization of Olivia Wilde in an attempt to force chemistry between her and Daniel Craig. It just wasn’t there. Anyways, these are some of the lessons I learned from Cowboy & Aliens. Warning: spoilers follow.

1. It’s not called Cowboys vs. Aliens

For weeks now I have thought that this movie was called Cowboys vs Aliens. Turns out that “and” implies that there are aliens with feelings showing up somewhere in the movie.

These cowboys don't stand a chance.

2. Daniel Craig kicking ass can almost save any movie, even the ones with Olivia Wilde.

I can watch Daniel Craig beat the crap of anything all day long. This is Cowboy & Aliens lone saving grace. (For proof, please see my new favorite gif from Cowboys & Aliens.) But the masterminds behind this movie seem to want you to think that seeing Craig shirtless at every conceivable moment is what really matters. Sorry, that is what Casino Royale is for.

The objectification of Daniel Craig's body was mildly uncomfortable.

3. “We already have a boy and a dog. Why not a woman?”

The preacher (Clancy Brown) says this when Olivia Wilde’s character wants to ride out with the misfits who think they can stop the aliens. He doesn’t realize that he also has Adam Beach. Adam fucking Beach. And guess what, of the two of you, Adam Beach proves to be more useful. Someone’s gotta talk to the Apache.

Dear Adam Beach, I wish you were in more movies.

4. No one plays an old curmudgeon with a side of seizure better than Harrison Ford

What is it about Harrison Ford these days? In every movie he is in of late, he seems dangerously close to cardiac arrest. He sputters his words out like a complete maniac and twitches. There is a lot of twitching. My friend rightly pointed out that it is time that Harrison Ford pulled a Rodney Dangerfield in Natural Born Killers and do something completely against type.

What a grump

5. Olivia Wilde’s a what now?

For most of the movie, Olivia Wilde serves no purpose. Is she supposed to be Daniel Craig’s love interest? Or is she just weirdly mysterious? Spoiler alert! Olivia Wilde is really an alien with feelings in hot human girl form. She’s been sent to earth to destroy aliens that destroyed her homeland. At one point she dies, gets thrown into a fire, and reemerges… naked. Yes, naked. That is when everyone else realizes that they finally have a shot against the aliens and are totally accepting of the hot alien chick hanging around with them. (But not the Indians.) Ugh. Whatever. It still doesn’t explain her ridiculous getup. You expect me to believe that a woman in the late 1800s could run around with a gun holster just sluttly hanging from her hips like that? That is a bit too much revisionist history.

She also wore an obscene amount of eyeliner. Since when do hot aliens know how to apply eyeliner?

6. We never should have screwed over the Native Americans

The Apache, led by Raoul Trujillo, are very useful during alien invasions. In fact, Cowboys & Aliens should really have been named Cowboys, Indians, & Aliens. If the Apache hadn’t shown up and ignored Harrison Ford’s bigoted ass, then the white people would have been totally screwed. And because Indians are way more spiritual than white people, the Apache also help Daniel Craig come to terms with his past and the fact that his non-alien ladylove died a horrific death because of the bad aliens.

This is before the Apache got involved. Aliens - 1 White people - 0

7. Okay, now about those aliens

I avoided this one until the end. The good aliens are Olivia Wilde who wear too much eyeliner and emerge from flames naked. The bad aliens are bizarre, venus flytrap like creatures with Gollum arms and green blood. And they are grossly phallic. Their space ship? A giant cylinder that pulls out of the ground? I hope you know where my mind has gone right now. I need to lie down.

I couldn't find a picture of the aliens' ship so here is another picture of an overly sexualized Olivia Wilde instead.
And this one. Fyi, Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde, a lack of clothing does not mean that you have chemistry.

So that is what I learned from Cowboys & Aliens. What did you take away from this terrible, terrible movie? Sound off below.

18 thoughts on “What I Learned From Cowboys & Aliens

  1. i’m not seeing this movie. who is olivia wilde anyway? why is she a slutty alien in human form in this movie? couldn’t they cast somebody people have heard of? hillary swank can do slutty surely. she’s won two oscars afterall.

  2. Nice review. When you go to see a movie called ‘Cowboys and Aliens,’ you don’t expect high art, and that’s fine by us. But if the film itself has problems with taking itself too seriously, that spells trouble, mainly because when you have five writers that’s never a good sign. Still somewhat fun entertainment. Check out my review when you can!

  3. I totally agree. I wrote about the ramifications of Olivia Wilde’s character in my blog as well. That’s the part of the movie that really bothered me. Other than that, I accepted it for what it was, but it would be much more fun to analyze if it weren’t so thinly developed and plotted.

    That said, MAN do chaps look good on Daniel Craig.

    1. Because they’re Native Americans we’re probably just expected to think, “Yeah, they would know to do that.” Nothing like a good stereotype to keep a movie fresh.

    2. Why do you assume they threw her in the fire to “resurrect” her? I just assumed they were simply disposing of the body, and were as shocked as everyone else when she emerged.

      1. Thank you for clarifying. I thought from your review that you had simply missed the point of the movie, and my original post was a lot more “snarky” than the one I ended up with. Overall, I felt it did a good job of capturing the essence of the Western genre while applying a refreshingly new spin on it, and I have little patience for reviews of the form, “I don’t like this type of movie, so it stunk.” Fortunately, my wife (who also loved the movie) pointed out this reply. Bottom line: I hope people will check it out with an open mind, because there’s a lot to like here, including Dollarhide’s journey from apparently hopeless bigotry to discovering his shared humanity with the Native American characters.

  4. I actually loved the chemistry between Olivia Wilde and Daniel Craig, playing severely damaged characters reaching out to each other quite effectively, I thought. I’m a sucker for severely damaged characters, I guess, because I also loved Harrison Ford’s portrayal of the bitter, cynical, and yes, severely damaged war veteran. With a title like “Cowboys and Aliens”, I was expecting more of a genre parody than a serious movie, so I was delighted to find that, though it contained a lot of humor, it did indeed take itself seriously.

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