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Panel Report: Cowboys & Aliens

Posted on Sunday July 25, 2010, 08:22 by James White in Comic-Con 2010
Panel Report: Cowboys & Aliens

If Guillermo del Toro is the undisputed king of Comic-Con’s Hall H, and Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are the top jesters, then Jon Favreau is easily the ringmaster.

Or maybe the rockstar, since he arrived to roaring approval and pounding music. Thanking the fans of Hall H for getting behind Iron Man and its sequel, he was quick to raise a cheer by admitting that they’d considered filming Cowboys in 3D, but that he wanted to shoot on film, and that post-converting a movie was, unless you take the time to do it properly, like colourising a black and white film. Gawd bless ‘im for voicing what we’ve all been thinking recently. There was even room for a zinger: “Take the money you save and see it twice!”

And Favs wasn’t alone. He brought out stars Daniel Craig, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach out, and even called up writers Rob Orci and Alex Kurtzman.

But there was a bigger surprise on the horizon: yes, Harrison Ford was in the house. And with a gag that was both inspired and, given the stabby events earlier, slightly ill timed, the man the geek world adores as Han Solo and Indiana Jones arrived shackled with a police escort. Planned as a joke on Ford's previous comments that Favreau would need to drag him to the Con in handcuffs, it was quickly re-interpreted as a joke about the Hall H stabber! Context aside, the reception for the Comic-Con first-timer was loud enough to rival Twilight actor appearances from last year. The audience got to its feet to welcome Ford, who ended up saying little, but flashed his trademark grin to winning effect. Who needs words when you’re an icon?

The fan questions were largely quick and painless, with Craig asked about Bond (“it’s on hold but I want to get going with it as soon as possible”) and Ford quizzed on whether he thought his career would go this way. Short answer: no.

Still, you know what you want to hear about. Did they show any footage? Despite having only shot for four weeks so far, Favreau did not disappoint. Introducing what he described as a “rough collection of scenes”, he explain his intent to make a very traditional Western in the Ford/Leoni style blended with the type of sci-fi he grew up with - Close Encounters and those films that verged on horror: Predator and Alien.

And what a show he put on. We start with a very raw Craig wandering into a Western town, injured and sore. Arrested, he ends up in jail with Paul Dano, all acid-tongued and attempting to threaten him. Seems Craig is the reason he’s behind bars. But Craig soon shuts him up by grabbing him by the collar and slamming him into the cell’s bars.

Cut to Harrison Ford’s character arriving to claim his wayward child. But before he can also claim Craig, strange lights flicker in the sky. The Close Encounters-style sighting soon turns nasty as alien ships begin to blast the town.

Seemingly nothing can stop them – certainly not the six-shooters and shotguns of the townsfolk – until Craig, freed from a prison wagon by an explosion, uses an unusually futuristic bracelet that has the power to shoot down one of the ships. And… Cut.

The crowd, predictably went crazy for the footage. It truly lives up to Favreau’s promise of mixing Western traditions with sci-fi to solid effect. And if that’s what it looks like after four scant weeks, I can’t wait to see the rest. Next year? Too far away!

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