Familiarity, for better or for worse, seems to be the theme for the lion’s share of the 2011 summer movie lineup. Captain America, Green Lantern and X-Men can fight it out for the comic book fan’s attention, and the Transformers, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and newbie Cars franchises might swell on the momentum of pre-built fans. More uniquely, The Debt and The Help look like promising dramas with female leads, and Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark’s pervasive terror could be truly petrifying. But the one truly stand alone, risk-taking film that has me not only excited for the summer, but anxious as well, has familiar ideas in an intriguingly simple confrontation: Cowboys and Aliens.
Please, please don’t disappoint me.
Director Jon Favreau of Iron Man 1 & 2 fame will be presenting a genre bending film- sci-fi adventure in the wild West, starring Daniel Craig and Olivia Wilde, in Cowboysand Indians. The title is a simple enough synopsis. The timing could be right, the cast could be ideal, and the above-the-line names could be talented enough to pull it off. My anticipation for this film, coupled with my desire to see this succeed just because it is simple yet different, is what will put me in the theatre seat on its release July 29th.
Not that the two ideas- cowboys and aliens- have never shared screen-time before. Toy Story 3, the blockbuster of summer 2010 that went on to be the highest grossing film of the year, is built around the combination of a cowboy and an outerspace dweller. This adult take on intergalactic enemies battling small-town sheriffs could be hot on the heels of the surprisingly successful Rango, another unusual western with mixing up the standard fare through its use of animated reptiles.
The inclusion of star Harrison Ford and executive producer Steven Spielberg makes the resemblance to the 2008 sci-fi adventure with a western/frontier sensibility, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, two-sided: it could be fun, and it could be bizarre. The trailer also makes me remember the rock-n-roll style preview of the latest Star Trek, the epitome of the sci-fi film rooted in the classic Western tenets of exploration, uncharted lands, and strange inhabitants. Key behind-the-scenes players from Star Trek, such as producers Alan Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof and Roberto Orci provide brain power as writers of Cowboys and Aliens. Star Trek was successful, and I hope that the director J.J. Abrams wasn’t the only reason why.
If so, I can always go see Super 8 instead.