Posted on Saturday, July 24th, 2010 by Adam Quigley
Jon Favreau has always had great respect for his audience, and that fact has never been more clear than at Comic-Con. They’ve only been shooting Cowboys and Aliens for four weeks, but Favreau worked hard to finish cutting together some footage in hopes of giving fans a taste of its tone and style. Learn about what was shown, and what Favreau had to say about the film, after the break.
Prior to unveiling the footage, Favreau explained that they had considered the options for 3D, but decided against it. Since the film is a western, he didn’t want to shoot digitally, leaving only the possibility of a post-conversion. His response: “That’s like shooting in black and white, and then colorizing.”
He also elaborated a bit on the approach he wanted to take with the material, playing the film as a “by-the-book western” in the vein of John Ford and Sergio Leone, embedded with the type of scary sci-fi he remembers as kid, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Alien.
Two clips were featured, both of which are presumably from the beginning of the film.
The first was an atmospheric bit of old school western style, with Daniel Craig horseback riding alongside his dog through a barely populated town. He enters an empty home, and checks to see if anyone is there. It seems like nobody is, so he starts to wash his face, revealing a large metallic device on his wrist.
From behind him, a man rests the end of a rifle against his head.
The second sequence was far more elaborate, opening with Craig in prison in a cell opposite Paul Dano.
Dano makes sneering comments at Craig. Craig ignores them, but Dano keeps going. Finally, Craig reaches through the bars and slams Dano’s head against them, knocking him to the ground.
Dano and Craig are handcuffed in a carriage, and begin to be taken away. Harrison Ford, playing Dano’s father, halts the carriage.
After a brief quarrel, they’re interrupted by a fiery strip of light in the sky. It seems to be getting closer. Then, it vanishes. The townsfolk look puzzled. Suddenly, the light reappears and bursts into several UFOs, firing laser bolts into the town. The characters navigate the exploding buildings, while spotlights from the ships seem to be lifting and knocking people all over the place.
Craig arises from the overturned carriage. The device on his wrist has expanded, and is glowing with white lights all around it. He aims it toward a ship flying right at him, and it starts to power up. As the ship nears, the device lets out a powerful blast and annihilates the side of it. Craig drops to the ground as the ship collapses behind him.
The device closes shut, and Ford and the rest of the townsfolk stare at him.
It’s far too early to make any snap judgments about the film, but I certainly admire Favreau’s approach. The vibe I was getting from the footage was that it was like a dead serious western with Spielbergian flair, which matches Favreau’s own description of what he was going for to a tee. Some of the explosions looked a little cheesy and fake, drawing attention to the environment being very obviously a movie set, but that could easily change with some tweaking in the editing room. The shot that sold me the most was the one featured in the image above, with Craig utilizing his Iron Man-esque gadgetry to take down an alien ship.
My only hesitation to the material was, surprisingly, Harrison Ford. On top of looking so very old, he also came across far sillier than he should’ve, like he either wasn’t trying or didn’t know what he was doing. It was only one scene though, so I’ll reserve judgment until I see the finished film.