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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Cowboys & Aliens’: outlaws versus outer space

    When I first saw the previews for “”Cowboys & Aliens”” I misunderstood the ampersand and erroneously believed that the movie was actually called “”Cowboys versus Aliens.”” Well, it’s not called that, since the writers were probably aware that the word “”versus”” might put the film into the same category as campy, science fiction, horror movies like “”Megashark versus Giant Octopus.”” But still, when it comes down to it, “”Cowboys & Aliens”” has a similar setup. In the film, mysterious outlaw Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) wakes up in the middle of the desert one day, unaware of who he is or what happened to him.

    He rides into the nearest Wild West town, only to find himself in the middle of a war between the townspeople and some terrifying UFOs. As Lonergan struggles to remember his criminal past, he also realizes that because of the alien technology strapped to his wrist, he is the only one who can save the town — and ultimately, the world — from total annihilation.

    Lonergan leads the people in an attack against the aliens, and most of the film follows the dangerous war that ensues. And regardless of if the word “”versus”” is in the title or not, as the cowboys face off against the aliens, there are some clear advantages on each side. Here’s what each team has going for them:

    COWBOYS

    A beautiful woman

    Ella (Olivia Wilde) epitomizes traditional gender roles for the first half of the movie. She follows Lonergan like a lost puppy, expressing unhelpful one-liners such as “”I need you!”” as well as “”I can help you!”” She conveniently keeps running into Lonergan while he is shirtless, and her lines make a lot more sense if you add “”in my pants …”” afterward. However, in the second half of the movie (after we’ve seen her naked) her character makes a full 180 and plays a critical role in the final battle.

    Tons of expendable allies

    Even though Lonergan is an outlaw, he uses the power of friendship to keep adding new recruits to his  — because his expendable cowboy accomplices have the lifespan of a criminal in a Chuck Norris movie. But the fight and the film must go on. So with some help from Ella, he is even able to uncharacteristically befriend a tribe of Native Americans.

    A really cute border collie

    This loyal little dog doesn’t get a name, but he follows Lonergan and the other cowboys throughout the entirety of the film. Although he doesn’t perform any amazing tasks, his barking alerts the cowboys to the aliens’ arrival on several occasions.

    The hummingbird from “”Pocahontas””

    This was just plain corny. Since Lonergan can’t remember the information that he needs to defeat the aliens, the Native Americans inexplicably use some kind of magical hummingbird to remind him of his past. The hummingbird also returns at the end, as a symbol of peace and love … or something.

    ALIENS

    A totally legitimate motive

    The first questions many viewers ask during these kinds of films are “”What do the aliens want?”” and “”Why are they here?”” In this movie, the aliens are here for the same reason as the cowboys: gold. What do aliens want to do with the gold? Why can’t they get it on their own planet? These questions are never answered. But hey, at least they’ve got motive.

    Way better lassoes than the cowboys

    Staying true to the cowboy motif, the aliens use tech-savvy lassoes to reach down from the sky and snatch innocent townspeople right off the ground. These bizarre metallic strings are both mechanical and gooey-looking at the same time, and apparently, they’re made from some seriously strong rope.

    Three fingers

    That’s one more finger than “”David After Dentist.”” For some reason, the aliens only have three fingers, which creep out of the middle of their chests right as they’re about to prey on a victim. And with the same wide-eyed curiosity as a drugged-up 8-year-old, the aliens’ three fingers tremble as they reach out and grasp at nothing. This allows the cowboys a conveniently long amount of time to shoot an alien from behind, even if the alien is about to kill somebody.

    The element of surprise

    We don’t see what the aliens look like until a good hour into the movie. And even when we do see them, they have the ability to burst out of rivers, aircrafts or caves at any unexpected moment. And of course, when they do, the music goes “”boom!”” and the easily-startled members of the audience jump in response. The cowboys, however, instinctively grab their guns.

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