Cowboys & Aliens

27 Nov

By josh

Hollywood is in love with alien invasion movies lately. Skyline premiered earlier this month, and the trailer for Battle: Los Angeles is now previewing in theaters. It seems like there’s a veritable invasion movie renaissance happening right now. However, what those two movies have in  common – hostile aliens invading modern-day L.A. – is probably the biggest thing that sets it apart from next summer’s big close encounter flick, Cowboys & Aliens, as the name so clearly gives away, these aliens make their run at earth’s domination in the wild, wild west. With a premise that has B-movie written all over it, this Steve Spielberg-produced, Jon Favreau-directed film looks to be an A-list blockbuster of the first kind.

The trailer opens up with Daniel Craig awaking alone in the desert with no memory, and a strange other-worldly metal bracelet on his left wrist. He proves to be a wanted man, and lawmaker Harrison Ford wants the rights to him after he’s captured by a local posse. All standard practices in any western, oh, but then I forgot about the alien attack. Spaceships come down and start tearing up the frontier town, and you can officially kiss your traditional western goodbye. Ford and Craig team up, Olivia Wilde plays the beautiful girl, and that bracelet on James Bond’s wrist proves to be the only weapon that can stop the unfriendly visitors. So far, so good.

How this movie has kept such a low profile while in production is beyond me, but from this first look, it looks to be a lot of fun. It’s great to see Daniel Craig team up with Harrison Ford who, aside from the phenomenally disappointing return to the Indiana Jones universe with Crystal Skull, hasn’t been in a legitimate action movie in years. It is going to be incredibly fun to see Ford in a serious action role again, for despite its silly premise and steampunk cues, Cowboys & Aliens takes on a more serious tone. With a feel of the recent War of the Worlds remake (the sights and sounds are very reminiscent), we’re in for a thriller of an alien movie, with one hell of a twist.

The people you can thank for that tone is Worlds director Spielberg, and Favreau, who after proving he can bring box office gold with Iron Man, has gotten quite the clout as big-time director in Hollywood. It’s clear that as producer, Spielberg’s got his fingerprints all over this, and he’s got quite the track record with alien films, with Worlds and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But let’s not forget who was responsible for that completely misguided fourth Indian Jones film, and despite Favreau’s recent success, unfortunately we remember the last time he visited space with 2005’s Zathura. Both director’s have hits and misses when it comes to science fiction, but with Spielberg they’ve proved rare, and hopefully Favreau can continue to ride this high.

So, will it suck?

No. And I say that as objectively as I can. Yes, I love Steven Spielberg; yes, I’m a huge fan of both Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig; yes, I’m in love with Olivia Wilde, and I’ve been rooting for Favreau since Swingers came out in the 90’s. But viewing this trailer, you’ve got two things going on – you’ve got the Old West-meets-aliens thing going on, and you’ve got a smirk-free, straight-faced take on it. How easy would it have been to be tongue-in-cheek with this one? I mean, remember what happened with Wild Wild West? We praise the person who proposed this movie, and after studio execs had a good chuckle, said “No, I’m serious.” Aside from the great casting choices, the thing that’s making this movie work for me is that fact that Favreau and Spielberg are taking a good idea seriously, no matter how ridiculous the concept may be.

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