Cowboys & Aliens still inspires giggles from those who are unfamiliar with the ensemble of talents working both in front of and behind the camera on this sci-fi/western mashup. However, those who have been following the project for a while now know that director Jon Favreau has no interest in simply delivering the goofy B-movie the title implies.
A extended television preview for Cowboys & Aliens aired during the 2011 Spike TV Guys Choice Awards lat night, once again portraying the film as being part authentic Old West shoot-’em-up, part gritty alien invasion flick.
To jog your memory: Cowboys & Aliens begins in the Arizona territory circa 1873, with a mysterious gunman named Jake Lonergan (Daniel Craig) – an amnesiac cowboy with a strange mechanical bracelet attached to his arm. When he rides into the local town of Absolution, it turns out Lonergan is wanted by the authorities, including the hard-as-nails Colonel Dolarhyde (Harrison Ford).
However, all that conflict gets set on the backburner when a fleet of alien vessels descend upon the Old West town, literally lassoing up citizens left and right. Lonergan, Dolarhyde, and everyone else in between – ruffians, outlaws, and Native American warriors alike – are then forced to band together and battle the sinister extraterrestrial invaders.
Check out the Cowboys & Aliens TV trailer below:
Much like this weekend’s Super 8, the marketing campaign for Cowboys & Aliens has so far held off on revealing the spooky creatures from another world. That decision has only helped to sell the film as being both an exhilarating piece of summer popcorn movie fun and a straight-faced mix of grim western, sci-fi action, and monster horror genre elements. While there’s also the risk that the final product could end up devolving into a campfest, so far Favreau and Co. appear to have avoided including any sort of overly-cheesy bits (one-liners, excessive slo-mo action, etc.).
It also helps that Craig and Ford appear to have embraced their cowboys roles with the same no-nonsense attitude they brought to their most famous screen roles (James Bond and Indiana Jones, respectively). Both seem to be quite comfortable in their Cowboys & Aliens parts – as do supporting players like Olivia Wilde (TRON: Legacy), Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2), and even Paul Dano (Little Miss Sunshine) as the prisoner who learns that teasing Craig’s Lonergan isn’t the brightest of ideas.
While comic book/sci-fi nerds and film lovers alike will definitely flock to check out Cowboys & Aliens when it hits theaters, it’s difficult to assess right now whether or not the masses will turn out in full force on opening weekend. Even with advertisements labeling the film as being “from the director of ‘Iron Man’,” the silly title might discourage a number of people from rushing out to see it. Assuming good word-of-mouth begins to circulate thereafter, it could end up being a surprisingly leggy summer hit. As always, we shall have to wait and see.
Cowboys & Aliens hits U.S. theaters next month on July 29th, 2011.