Jon Favreau Wows with Nine Minutes of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’

Posted by at 12:31 am on April 4, 2011

If you are at a Con and you start to hear AC/DC’s “Back In Black” at volume 11, you know you are about view a talk by director Jon Favreau. This time he brought Bob Orci, the co-writer of “Cowboys and Aliens,” in tow. The two of them premiered some new clips from the film, along with some already seen footage, and gave more insight about the film to a packed Esplanade Ballroom at WonderCon.

Favreau talked about the genesis of the project and how it had passed from Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg (both of whom are executive producers on the film) and that he felt that he could do something special with the material. He also said that he wouldn’t be appearing in Cowboys & Aliens because Family Guy poked fun at Favreau’s constant cameos. I agree with the fan who later said to Favreau during the Q&A, “Screw Seth MacFarlane! You should be in all your movies!”

And then Favreau finished up his introduction and brought us some tasty and mostly-new footage from Cowboys & Aliens. He rhetorically asked how much of Green Lantern was shown yesterday. “Nine minutes?” Favreau said grinning. “Then I guess we oughta do nine minutes!” The crowd cheered, the lights went down, and we got us some Cowboys & Aliens footage.

The Nine Minutes of Wow

The footage opens with Daniel Craig riding into a dusty, Western town. He peers through a dirty window to what looks like an empty house. As he’s washing-up (his shirt is stained with blood) he hears a gun cock behind him. It’s Clancy Brown! A bearded Clancy Brown! He demands to know the strangers name, but he doesn’t know it. Or what he’s doing there. What does he know? “English.”

After this we cut to night time. A man is being strung up between horses. Calling the shots: a badass in a big hat. When he turns, its an icon of cinema as legendary as Clark Gable, John Wayne or Humphrey Bogart: Harrison Ford.

Someone blew up his cattle and he’s pissed. The man begging for his life swears he was attacked by a “weird light,” which we see in a flashback. Ford, scoffing, heads into town.

There are some remarkable moments of special effects in the Cowboys & Aliens invasion sequence, but the money shot for today was Craig and Ford making eye contact from underneath the brims of their hats. And just a few moments later they were slugging each other. The still show acting can be C&G any day of the week.

In quick flashes we see a little bit of Craig’s backstory. He awoke in the middle of nowhere with a strange band clasped to his wrist. Now, as freaky blue lights appear over the horizon of the town, he instinctively uses it as a weapon.

There followed an extension of the invasion sequence that appeared in the first trailers, with frighten citizens getting pulled up to the ships.

In a barrage of images that followed we saw some great expanses and shots of men on horses with crazy spaceships.

Parting Comments

One of the things Favreau explained to the audience is that he wants to make this movie fun by showing how the characters honestly react to a hostile extraterrestrial encounter, not by winking to the audience and having the characters know that they’re in a western. That quick shot of seeing the characters riding out into battle against the spaceships is the best example of how this movie will be fun without being ironic. I hope that the rest of the film delivers in the same way.

Before the end of the panel, Favreau says the film will be “in glorious 2-D” and told the audience that if they want more 2-D films that they should tell theaters about it and support 2-D movies at the box office. An interesting counterpoint to the 3-D hyped reality of today.

Cowboys & Aliens opens July 29th.

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