7.29-31.2011: What To Watch – Theater Edition

What do you get when you put Indiana Jones and James Bond together?  A sci-fi thriller full of action set in the Wild West…oh yeah, and aliens.  About a hundred or so years later and across the Atlantic, British teens are also set to fight an invasion of aliens…but just on their block.

Cowboys & Aliens  Starring Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford, Olivia Wilde, Sam Rockwell, Adam Beach, Paul Dano and Noah Ringer.  Screenplay by Mark Fergus, Alex Kurtzman, Damon Lindelof, Roberto Orci and Hawk Ostby.  Executive Produced by Steven Spielberg and others.  Produced by Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and others.  Executive Produced & Directed by Jon Favreau.

The cowboys-meet-aliens movie started as a 100-page graphic novel, created by Scott Mitchell Rosenberg (Unique), written by Fred Van Lente (Marvel Zombies) & Andrew Foley (Six Shots), penciled by Luciano Lima (Wolverine) and published by Platinum Studios (Rosenberg is the founder and CEO) in 2006.  How is it that a 2011 movie was written, shot and edited in just five years?  Well, in 1997, Dreamworks Pictures and Universal Studios began developing Cowboys & Aliens after purchasing the film rights from a concept pitched by Rosenberg.  It wasn’t until a year after publishing the graphic novel did the development of the 2011 movie actually begin.  As for the writing, a number of screenwriters have had their hands on the script, evolving from a comedy to a drama over the past 10+ years.  The final script, with a look over by Spielberg, found the appropriate point at which a sci-fi and Western could co-exist in a movie without feeling unbelievable.  Jon Favreau signed onto the project after being introduced to it by his Iron Man 2 star Robert Downey Jr., who was going to be in Cowboys & Aliens but left for the sequel to Sherlock Holmes (A Game of Shadows); Daniel Craig replaced Downey Jr.  Cowboys & Aliens is one of the big summer movies not using 3D because Favreau believes Westerns should be shot on film, not digitally.  It premiered at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con on July 23rd, 2011.

Synopsis:  1875.  New Mexico Territory.  A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution.  The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist.  What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford).  It’s a town that lives in fear.  But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky.  Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known.  Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation.  As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force.  With the help from the elusive traveler Ella (Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors – all in danger of annihilation.  United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.  courtesy of Dreamworks Pictures and Universal Studios

PG-13 / 118 min / In 2D and IMAX

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Attack the Block  Starring John Boyega, Alex Esmail, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Franz Drameh, Nick Frost, Jodie Whittaker, Luke Treadaway and Jumayn Hunter.  Written and Directed by Joe Cornish.

From the producers of Shaun of the Dead, the action/comedy/sci-fi Attack of the Block is director Joe Cornish’s first feature film.  The movie premiered in the United Kingdom on May 11th, 2011 and has grossed $4.275 million at the foreign box office in the UK, France, Iceland and Malaysia.  Attack of the Block is only in limited release in the US but earlier this year, it hit the US festival circuit.  At South by Southwest, it won the midnight feature award and at the Los Angeles Film Festival, it won the audience award for best narrative.

Synopsis:  A teen gang is pitted against an invasion of savage alien monsters.  It turns a London housing estate into a sci-fi playground.  A tower block into a fortress under siege.  And teenage street kids into heroes.

R / 88 min

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