Cowboys & Aliens is a good-looking movie that relies heavily on Hollywood western cliches—without making fun of them or beating them to death. Aliens aside. Needless to say, the movie leads up to a climactic confrontation between the cowboys (and Indians and outlaws and a little boy and an alien babe) and the aliens. It’s one of the most poorly-conceived battle scenes in cinematic history . . .
Even before my eight-year-old walked into the building, she pronounced “The aliens should win ’cause they have better technology.” This without her having seen a single episode of the idiotic yet ridiculous watchable Spike TV series Deadliest Warrior.
Ah, but Daniel Craig’s character Jake Lonergan has an alien arm bracelet gun that puts the cowboys and Indians and outlaws and a little boy and an otherworldly love interest at level pegging. Well, it would do if, say, the good guys got them a bunch of them thar arm bracelet laser gun thingies. Which they didn’t.
So here we have cowboys and Indians (etc.) facing off against bigger, faster, better equipped more numerous aliens with total air superiority entrenched inside a metal fortress (i.e. spaceship). Good luck with that.
The good guys are armed with a variety of period firearms, including a converted Colt 1860 Army, a Winchester 1866 “Yellow Boy,” a Spencer 1860 Carbine [above] and a Colt 1870 12-gauge. Their Indian allies also sport long guns—and spears, bow and arrows and a war club. Oh, and let’s not forget the guy with an alien arm cannon. Who promptly pisses off on a rescue mission.
I’m not a battle-hardened “legendary” military strategist like Harrison Ford’s character Woodrow Dolarhyde. But I’m no dope either. Here’s a good rule of thumb: when you’re facing a superior force, don’t. How about we go and get us some more of those bracelet thingies before we take on them sumbitches?
Drama has its own demands. So instead of amassing their forces behind cover, drawing out the enemy and concentrating their fire, the good guys do the skirmishing thing. On a limited visibility battlefield. And get slaughtered, Starship Troopers style. Until . . . you can guess or maybe even remember the rest.
Just before Cowboys & Aliens’ final battle, Olivia Wilde’s character Ella Swenson tells the cowboys, etc. that they have a major tactical advantage: their alien adversaries underestimate humans. “You’re like insects to them.” Takes one to know one. Just sayin’.
Here’s the important oh what the hell the only lesson to learn from that sage advice: never underestimate an enemy by thinking they underestimate you. Only in Hollywood does that turn out well.