There are two kinds of movie fans: people who embrace spoilers and people who avoid them like the plague. This post is for the former. IGN just put up a detailed description of the first act of Cowboys & Aliens, having visited director Jon Favreau and editor Dan Lebental in the editing room last November. Scheduled for release on July 29, Cowboys & Aliens stars Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Olivia Wilde in a sci-fi spin on the Western genre that follows a mysterious stranger who realizes he’s the only person who can save a town from attacking aliens.

Favreau has become one of the most fan-friendly directors out there, always willing to show fans just enough to whet our appetites for his films and Cowboys & Aliens is no exception. If you don’t mind spoilers, hit the jump to read what happens in the first 40 minutes of the movie.

A big thanks to IGN for posting about this footage. A month or so after Favreau had them in the editing room, he then showed the same footage to the crowd (including Peter) at Harry Knowles’ Butt-Numb-A-Thon. Here’s a little taste:

The movie opens with outlaw Jake Lonergan (Craig) waking up in the middle of nowhere with a strange, futuristic gauntlet on his arm and no idea of how it got there. Jake is one bad hombre; this is immediately established when he adeptly takes out a few riders looking to do him harm.

Moving on from there, Jake arrives in the town of Absolution where he intervenes to help a meek saloon keeper, Doc (Sam Rockwell), who is being harassed by young thug Percy Dolarhyde (a scene-stealing Paul Dano) and his cronies. Going into Doc’s saloon for a drink, Jake is approached by a beautiful, enigmatic jezebel named Ella (Olivia Wilde) who knows a helluva lot more about Jake than she possibly could. But before Jake can get answers as to how, Sheriff Taggart (Keith Carradine) and his deputies arrive to take Jake into custody. Turns out Jake is quite the wanted man who, although he has no memory of it, allegedly stole from powerful local rancher Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford), who is — you guessed it — Percy’s badass dad.

Before the Colonel can take Jake away to mete out punishment, distant lights hearken the sudden and violent arrival of alien invaders. The brutal attack on Absolution plays out like an Old West Pearl Harbor. The alien ships destroy the town and abduct some of its inhabitants, before Jake is able to down one of the spacecraft with that strange gauntlet of his. This otherworldly threat forces enemies Jake and Dolarhyde to ally for the greater good.

Most of this can be seen in the trailer for the film and chances are we’re going to see a new one fairly soon. Check it out again, right here.

The footage ended after the big alien attack, but here’s what Favreau told IGN about what happens next:

What happens next is that it becomes a road movie as they band together and try to track this thing and find where all the people are being held. All the people they meet along the way and all the different groups coming together, this ragtag group finally confronting this unapproachable enemy. That’s also what’s fun about a good western, like The Magnificent Seven, is how are they possibly going to defeat this enemy? It’s just through heart and faith. How can you make it that they can face these odds and it doesn’t feel like bullshit? It’s guiding the audience through each step so that they believe you and have them get invested in the characters.

Head over to IGN to read more about their impressions on the footage, the tone of the film and what Favreau said about working with the actors. Our own Russ Fischer also visited the set of the film and really enjoyed his time there, and you can read his in depth write up by clicking these blue word you’re reading right now.

In such a crowded summer, do you think Cowboys & Aliens is going to be able to compete?

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