With the release of yet another trailer, it certainly feels like Universal Studios has its promotional machine in high gear for upcoming sci fi/western Cowboys and Aliens. The film does have more than a few things to recommend it, from director Jon Favreau to a stellar cast including James Bond player Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde and Sam Rockwell. Cowboys and Aliens hits theaters on July 29, but it is yet to be determined whether genre-film fans will turn out to see it.
It is certainly a novel idea. The melding of antithetical genres Western with Sci Fi is fresh, but strange. It is so outside-the-box that it feels a little gimmicky and silly, and I don’t need to go into the possible anachronistic nightmare it presents. When I first heard of this film and saw the trailers, like many others I laughed. It just sounded a bit too ridiculous. But as more information came out, my curiosity was definitely piqued.
With Favreau on as director, after the amazing things he did for Iron Man and Iron Man 2, I have high hopes for any action flick he helms. It doesn’t hurt that Cowboys and Aliens boasts producers Ron Howard and sci fi guru Steven Spielberg. Their participation is a definite draw, and I feel myself almost decided on seeing it despite having ridiculed the concept at first.
Here’s the synopsis:
1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents–townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors–all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.
Favreau talks about the Old West environment he created for the film in the behind-the-scenes featurette released last week. He said that there is a great palate of characters to work with, and imagery, but it’s all made fresher because he’s building an effects show around the backdrop of a western. With classic western imagery, he wanted to populate that environment with a very talented cast of actors.
Writing team Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Transformers, Star Trek) penned the script, and they’re certainly not new to the action-flick industry. It’s an adaptation of a graphic novel, which may make it more comic book than hard sci fi. Overall, indicators point to Cowboys and Aliens being better than it sounds, though it may be difficult to get audiences into theaters come July given the silliness of the concept.
The new trailer and the featurette are below.