Movies: Cowboys VS. Aliens & Indians… Does it Really Matter? They’re All the Same Anyway, According to the New Movie.

 

Yesterday I wrote that I was sick of seemingly every new release movie these days incorporating aliens into their plotlines, none more so than the latest Jon Favreau effort, Cowboys & Aliens, starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde.

I have no interest in seeing the film. Super 8, Thor and Green Lantern have taken up my alien quota for the year. So I can’t comment fully on the nature of the representation of Native Americans in Cowboys & Aliens, but I think the title and the trailer tell me pretty much all I need to know. I also did some sneaky spoiler reading, so I’ll put up *spoiler alert* where applicable.

Being of Native American heritage myself, my initial viewing of the trailer grated on me. Taking the place of “Indians” in the Western genre were “aliens”—other—, which Indigenous peoples have been seen as for centuries. At ComicCon, the creators and stars of the film defended it, saying that both are genres that have been “done to death”.

I wondered if I was the only one who read it this way, and came across this brilliant article from Ms. Magazine, which asserts that the aliens and the Indians are seen as “them”, versus “us”: the white male main characters of the film, Craig’s Jake Lonergan and Ford’s Colonel Woodrow Dollarhyde. Cowboys & Aliens goes on to further stereotype the members of the Apache tribe featured in the film into categories: “the good Native”, the “savage warrior” and the “exotic” “Indian princess”, played by Wilde.

Wilde’s Ella Swenson is revealed to not be of Native American heritage, but *SPOILER ALERT* descendent from the other “others” in the film. Further to the assertion that people who aren’t white are interchangeable, Swenson is still characterised as “exotic” and not from the world of Lonergan and Dollarhyde. They’re all the same right?

After all, the central premise of the movie is that the whites have already raped and pillaged the Native people of the land, so they need a new enemy. Why not do the same to the invaders?

I’d be interested to know what others’ think of the depictions of race (the Ms. article points out that given the film is set in Arizona, there is an absence of Latino characters), come Cowboys & Aliens’ release date in Australia on Thursday.

Related: Green Lantern Review.

Super 8 Review.

Thor Review.

Elsewhere: [Ms Magazine] White Cowboys & Alien Indians.

Images via IMDb.

Movie Review: Green Lantern*.

 

When I met my brand new roommate Eddie about a year ago, we bonded over Green Lantern, amongst other things.

I’m not a huge fan of the comic book series, other than the fact that Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively are in the big screen adaptation, released last Thursday in Australia to the similar lacklustre reviews it received in the States. My only exposure to the superhero before I met Eddie was that he was professional wrestler Gregory “The Hurricane” Helms’ favourite superhero, revealed by his Green Lantern symbol tattoo and the t-shirt he gave Stone Cold Steve Austin during his “appreciation night” storyline back in 2001.

Even though I wasn’t super keen on the latest version, especially after seeing the previews (why must every movie be about aliens?! Super 8, Thor, Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens… Perhaps some fodder for a potential blog post…?), we’d bonded over it.

Going into films with low expectations usually winds up with me enjoying it much more than I thought I would, and this was true with Green Lantern.

As the comic book nerd to rule all comic book nerds, Eddie pointed out some holes in the plotline and amalgamations made especially for the movie that don’t exist in the comics, like Reynolds’ Hal Jordan’s nemesis Hector Hammond being able to read minds by physical contact after contracting the powers of Paralax.

As a non-comic book nerd, I thought some parts of the movie weren’t resolved, like Jordan getting beat up in a parking lot behind a bar he was having drinks with Lively’s Carol Ferris at, but nothing coming of it (Carol coming to his rescue, the cops arriving, any arrests being made) apart from being the catalyst for Hal to use his willpower, the energy that the Green Lantern Corps use to fight space crime and whatnot.

I was initially excited about Lively’s role in the film, but she’s as boringly saccharine in this as she is in Gossip Girl. The only part of the movie where I see a glimmer of potential in her acting abilities is when she is approached by Hal, in his Green Lantern costume, and exclaims, “You think I wouldn’t recognise you because I can’t see your cheekbones?!” It was both funny (perhaps the funniest part of the movie, which isn’t saying much) and the closest Lively’s ever going to get to an Oscar nomination any time soon.

Considering Green Lantern was one of the most anticipated premieres of the year, it failed to live up to the hype. Not only was its release date almost two months behind the U.S., which is unheard of these days, Reynolds was supposed to attend the Melbourne and Sydney premieres, but pulled out at the last minute. (We were going to stalk him at Jam Factory!)

A sequel has been greenlit (get it?), which is promising, as the Green Lantern saga has a lot more to offer. Three more human Lanterns, a black Superhero, a heel turn (sorry, wrestling speak; good guy turns into a bad guy) from one of the main characters, the scene that sparked the Women in Refrigerators feminist movement. Let’s hope the second instalment brings some of this to the table.

*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.

Related: Super 8 Review.

Thor Review.

The Problem with Serena van der Woodsen.

Elsewhere: [Women in Refrigerators] Homepage.

Image via IMDb.

Movie Review: Captain America*.

 

I haven’t seen Iron Man. Or Iron Man 2. Or The Incredible Hulk. I hated Thor. I’m not looking forward to The Avengers, other than the fact it has the Chris’s (Evans and Hemsworth) in it.

So I went into Captain America with a little trepidation, but from the previews, I liked what I saw: minimal alien action. Hypereal World War II setting. Chris Evans.

And I wasn’t disappointed.

It was easy to get behind Evans (or, as I joked after the movie, for him to get behind me!) as the good-hearted and brave protagonist and title character.

And it was funny, too: my comic-book-geek friend Eddie laughed intermittently at jokes that only he got (we were in the Director’s Suite with about three other people). There was an enjoyable fondue shtick that we laughed at for about five minutes, missing the ensuing dialogue.

I quite enjoyed the imagery. I love mid-20th century Americana, and Captain America didn’t disappoint, with his humble beginnings as a cotton wool cartoon hero who performed for the troops rather than being one.

Ultimately, it was a no-frills story about good vs. evil. Who magazine’s review said that it “isn’t out to dig deep”. Perhaps not consciously, but I did notice some underlying messages when it came to male body image, which I’ll be blogging about this week. Without giving the ending away, I was thoroughly surprised by it, which perfectly sets up the interlude to 2012’s The Avengers which, dare I say, made me a tiny bit excited for it. You know, besides the Chris factor.

Related: Thor Review.

Super 8 Review.

*It has come to my attention that I give away too much in my movie reviews, so the asterisk will now serve as a blanket *spoiler alert* from now on.

Image via IMDb.