Craig is teaming up with the director of Iron Man for the upcoming Cowboys & Aliens
which is based on a
graphic novel of the same name. With a title like that, how can it not
be made into a movie?
Well, quite easily actually. Apparently the concept
behind Cowboys & Aliens has been batted around Hollywood for
the past decade or so. However none of the major studios seemed to bite,
even though some of them were apparently quite intrigued by the project.
That is, until Iron Man
director Jon Favreau and Robert Downey Jr. signed on for the project.
Later Daniel Craig signed on after Downey Jr. left the
project because of scheduling conflicts. According to The Hollywood Reporter the
existing script by Iron Man writers Mark Fergus and Hawk
Ostby will be rewritten by Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman, who are also executive producers on
the film with
Lost executive producer
The movie is envisaged as a summer 2011 release.
The idea behind Cowboys & Aliens may have been in
existence for over ten years, but the graphic novel itself was only
finally published in 2006 (it is now out-of-print). The comic is written by Fred Van Lente and
Andrew Foley with art work by Luciano Lima, but the idea was dreamt up by
Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Rosenberg, who is the CEO of Platinum Studios
Comics today, ran Malibu Comics when their Men in
Black comic was made into a successful movie starring Will Smith in
1997. Cowboys & Aliens (obviously) has some ideas in common with
that hit movie, but it actually reminds one more of Will Smith’s more
unfortunate 1999 effort, Wild Wild West.
Remember that one? Better if you didn’t . . .
Cowboys & Aliens (the graphic novel) however
doesn’t quite live up to its cool title and one can only hope that the
movie itself will do better. The story takes place in the “Old West” in 1873 as
the book informs us as it kicks off with a scene straight of any Western,
namely a group of settlers being attacked by some Apache “injuns”. Zeke,
our blonde-haired hero, loveable rogue and all that, makes a dash to get
help from the local cavalry stationed at a nearby fort. (The character
actually reminds one more of Matthew McConaughey than Robert Downey Jr., but then again McConaughey hasn’t recently scored any big summer
superhero blockbuster hits.)
Zeke doesn’t make it though, but before the Apaches get to kill him they are distracted by the sight of an enormous
flying saucer crash-landing nearby. Needless to say, Zeke manages to
escape in the confusion and watches in horror as alien creatures from the
flying saucer cold-bloodedly incinerate the Native Americans
who have gone to greet them. One would have thought that the Apaches
should have known better than to greet any newcomers with open arms by
"A fun popcorn summer flick – Back to the Future Part III
meets Men In Black!"
Speaking of which, there is a heavy-handed prologue in
which the authors hammer away at the “message” behind Cowboys & Aliens.
In these scenes we see alien races being subjugated by alien invaders cross cut
with scenes in which Native Americans are being invaded by Westerners. The
message is the old “We Are All The Same and Why Can’t We Just Get Along?”
standby. Or as one (white) character tells the Apaches, it is a case of
“strange-lookin’ people from far away thinkin’ they can push us off our
world, just ‘cause their guns are better!” before realizing the irony of
hat he has just said.
Yup, the alien newcomers treat us humans with the same
disdain that European conquerors have treated their new Native American
subjects back then . . .
“Filthy savages,” the commander of the cavalry refers to
the local Apaches in one scene. Later, after the alien invaders have wiped
out the entire cavalry, what does the leader of the aliens have to say of
the local earthlings? “Filthy savages,” of course. Since Cowboys &
Aliens is going to be a big budget blockbuster expect this sort of
heavy-handed commentary on Manifest Destiny and the genocide of the Native
Americans to be the first thing to go!
in at a mere 100 pages Cowboys & Aliens is a brisk read and
provides just what will be the backbone for any movie adaptation. It is
somewhat disappointing and underwritten, but it should provide
Iron Man and
Children of Men scribes Hawk Ostby
and Mark Fergus the germ of an idea to make a fun popcorn summer flick –
Back to the Future Part III meets
The settlers and their Apache foes realize that in order
to survive they must work together and thus use the aliens’ own technology
against them. In one scene the “injuns” use the aliens’ anti-grav pads to
make their horses fly while letting go at the alien invaders with green
goo explosive-tipped arrows. Along the way the earthlings are helped by a
traitor in the aliens’ midst – those subjugated alien races we saw earlier
The aliens in the graphic novel most resemble
He-Man action figurines from the
1980s and for a comedy action movie version we’d rather go with your
typical “grey” aliens and make them comical CG characters in the same way
that Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks! did. In
fact, borrowing a more retro 1950s vision of aliens and their flying
saucers would probably serve the material better than the current alien
designs. The graphic novel is also low on characters with any personality
and is also in need of some crisp one-liners. But as we said, any
scriptwriters worth their salt should be able to turn the material into
something worthwhile. Or at least something that you won’t mind
seeing for free on TV late one night . . .
One thing they should however keep from the graphic
novel is the cover of a cowboy on horseback with a six-shooter taking aim
at an Independent Day-sized UFO. It’d
make for a great movie poster!