Jon Favreau, Bob Orci, and Ron Howard came rolling in, and they brought a full 40 minutes of footage with them for next summer’s “Cowboys and Aliens.” I’d actually seen this at a recent visit to the editing room, just before the release of the trailer for the movie, and I’m impressed with it.
Starting with Daniel Craig waking up alone in the desert, confused, his wrist wrapped in some sort of mechanical device, no memory of who he is or how he got there, the film moves quickly. Even before the main title comes up, we get a look at Craig in action, taking out a group of armed men, even tackling one of them off a horse.
Clancy Brown, Keith Carradine, Sam Rockwell, and Adam Beach all show up in interesting roles as townspeople who have to struggle with the iron fist of Col. Dollarhyde, played with appropriate grizzle by Harrison Ford, and his idiot son Percy, played by Paul Dano. One of the best things about the footage is the near-constant abuse that Dano takes, and I hope it’s a running thread in the film.
Craig and Ford both come across as big giant alpha males, and the idea of the two of them having to work together to sort out the mystery of what happened to Craig and what happened to the townspeople that are abducted in the action set piece that wrapped up the sequence we saw. I like the slow burn in the 40 minutes we saw, the emphasis on character, the Western tropes played just right.
Olivia Wilde plays a local woman who seems to know something about Craig and his troubles, and we saw some footage that hinted at a larger mystery involving her. Favreau seems cautiously optimistic about the film so far, excited by what he’s doing, and Ron Howard couldn’t have been more effusive in his praise right before it played. They were smart to show an uninterrupted chunk of the movie like this, because it demonstrates exactly what the tone is, and how the genre mash-up will work when it’s finished.
Cowboys and Aliens is set to be released on July 29, 2011!