Even just hearing the title of this movie, it’s hard not to raise an eyebrow and at least wonder, what the heck kind of movie is this? Well, that was my reaction when I first heard it earlier this year when it was still Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role, which would reunite him with his Iron Man director Jon Favreau. Well, since then the cast has changed and Daniel Craig now stars as the main protagonist Jake Lonergan.
You’ve probably seen the teaser trailer by now as it was all over the net last month, but in case you haven’t, it’s at the bottom of this post. I’d say it was the weirdest and most awesome trailer that came out that week (it so happened that a truckload of trailers were released that same week) that I couldn’t help playing it over and over again. Then it was shown in front of the latest Harry Potter movie and I was cracking up and clapping along with everyone in the packed theater. No doubt this one will be a hit come blockbuster season next Summer, and having Steven Spielberg’s name as executive certainly couldn’t hurt.
The movie is based on a 2006 graphic novel of the same name by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. Here’s the gist: In Silver City, Arizona, Apache Indians and Western settlers must lay their differences aside when an alien spaceship crash lands in their city. Now, even I had to giggle just reading that bizarre premise out loud, and considering the whimsical & playful nature of the Iron Man franchise (isn’t that mysterious shackle that encircles Craig’s wrist looks just as cool as Iron Man 2‘s briefcase suit?), I just assumed this would be in the same vein as that even if the trailer seems rather, um, serious. Apparently my perception about the movie is way off, and I’m sure I’m not alone.
According to this NY Times article, this movie is NOT a comedy: “Deceived by a title and a premise that many find inherently comic, potential viewers must now cope with a realization that Mr. Favreau wasn’t kidding when he told fans at the Comic-Con International convention last July that he planned to mix a “by-the-book, right-down-the-middle western” of the kind once made by Sergio Leone and John Ford, with really scary science fiction, like Alien or Predator. The article also mentioned that one possible reason of such expectations is due to the project’s origin, as at one time it was supposed to be a follow-up to the Will Smith’s sci-fi comedy Men in Black and the filmmaker of Ace Ventura was to have been its writer.
This CBR article also points out that RDJ’s departure also contributed to the change of tone: “… Robert Downey Jr. was set to star and the film was intended to utilize a more tongue-in-cheek tone in order to capitalize on the actor’s strengths. When Downey left, the production team quickly reconsidered that angle. “As we zeroed in on it, and as we went to Western school, we realized that irony was a little bit of the last thing we needed. The spin on the movie is already there; aliens are landing in a Western,” [screenwriter Roberto] Orci recalled. “The way to maximize that is to play it extremely straight and to have any fun or comedy come out of the natural moments that would come out of a situation like that, not out of writing the jokes [or] winking at the audience.” Hence the Daniel Craig casting, whom Orci called as having a ‘Steve McQueen vibe.’
IMDb trivia said that Daniel Craig was chosen because of his distinct likeness to Yul Brynner, who starred in the cowboy epic The Magnificent Seven (1960). Craig recommended Eva Green for the role of Ella after working with her in Casino Royale (2006). However, Eva turned the role down and Olivia Wilde was cast.
Check out Favreau’s interview with MTV below as he gave a play-by-play explanation of the teaser. I’ve never seen other directors did this before with their movies, so it’s pretty interesting to watch.
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I absolutely dig the trailer, especially with curmudgeonly Harrison Ford in the mix, that it really doesn’t matter what tone the movie is. Regardless how serious as it plays out, I can’t imagine not being amused by it. I’m sure I’d still laugh watching those cowboys and girls being sucked into the space ship right smack dab out of a saloon 😀
What do you think, folks? Is this one in your 2011 most-anticipated-movies list?