<p>Harrison Ford: outstanding in a field.</p>

Harrison Ford: outstanding in a field.

Watch: Harrison Ford talks craft in Montana for 'Cowboys and Aliens'

"It's fun to play a character the audience doesn't find an instant sympathy for."

Harrison Ford was kind enough to set-a-spell with me in Montana a few days back to talk about "Cowboys and Aliens," Jon Favreau's genre mash-up of sci fi film and western that opens this Friday. Set in the late 1800's, the movie answers the ageless question: 'what would happen if aliens invaded the old west?'

Ford's Character is Colonel Dolarhyde, a rich and rather bitter rancher. Dolarhyde is forced to team up with an amnesia stricken bandit (Daniel Craig) as well as the Indians he despises in order to fend off the invading horde of aliens and retrieve his kidnapped son and the rest of the townspeople.

I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about talking to the man. A feeling I shared with seemingly everyone else from the press. He's scary to us. He can be a man of few words and he does not suffer fools gladly. It's not hard to imagine how many "fools" become entertainment reporters, so you can see how he may build a reputation of being "difficult" among them.

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<p>Summer Glau, Ryan Kwanten, and Steve Zahn are all part of the LARPing comedy-adventure 'Knights Of Badassdom,' one of the highlights of Comic-Con 2011.</p>

Summer Glau, Ryan Kwanten, and Steve Zahn are all part of the LARPing comedy-adventure 'Knights Of Badassdom,' one of the highlights of Comic-Con 2011.

Credit: Indie Vest Pictures

`Comic-Con: 'Knights Of Badassdom' conquers Hall H with 'True Blood,' 'Firefly,' and 'Community' cast

Plus all the Dinklage you could ever need

SAN DIEGO - Saturday was a strange and sort of wonderful day in Hall H, and it felt like panel after panel had somehow slipped one by the programmers.  I love it when the films that play in Hall H are the things that need attention, not the things that have already had more than a little hype ahead of time.  For many people, the "what the heck was THAT?!" discovery of this year's Comic-Con was Joe Lynch's "Knights Of Badassdom."  I thought the entire panel was entertaining and funny and confident, and it seemed to convince the tough audience sitting around me as well.

There's no denying the high concept of "Knights" is pretty much as niche nerd specific as possible, and that can be tricky when a distributor is thinking about how to sell something, but the film benefits from having a cast that is suddenly very high-profile and easier to sell.  You're looking at a lot of overlap from different types of fandom, plus a sort of cumulative marketability that comes from the sort of cross-platform buzz you can generate with these people involved.  If there's one thing I learned from this year's convention, it is that television draws huge crowds, bigger than the movie panels this year, and should not be underestimated as a commercial force.

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<p>Daniel Craig's ready for trouble in an early scene from 'Cowboys and Aliens'</p>

Daniel Craig's ready for trouble in an early scene from 'Cowboys and Aliens'

Credit: Universal Pictures

Review: 'Cowboys and Aliens' has star power, can't connect dots

HitFix
C
Readers
B
Genre mash-up never quite gels as a film despite excellent work from many

SAN DIEGO - Handsomely produced, packed with a cast that all do expert work, directed well and polished to a high gloss, "Cowboys and Aliens" largely left me cold.  It's a troubling misfire because it feels like all the elements were in place for something special and fun, and instead, it is an exercise with no result, window dressing in search of a film.

"Cowboys and Aliens" is not a bad film.  It's not unpleasant.  It's not offensive.  I'm frustrated by my own reaction to it precisely because I acknowledge a certain sort of efficiency to the way it's built.  Jon Favreau called his shot on this one when I visited him in the editing room of the film, talking about how important it was to make this a genuine Western first, and then to simply introduce one fantastic element.  I saw the first half-hour of the film on that visit, and then again in December at Butt-Numb-A-Thon when Favreau came down to visit and make the same presentation.  I liked what I saw then, and tonight, when I saw the finished version of that first act, I really admired the construction of that stretch of film.  It opens well.  The problem is, it opens so well that it sets up expectations that it utterly fails to meet.

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<p>Paul Rudd would like to sleep on your couch.&nbsp; Now, please.</p>

Paul Rudd would like to sleep on your couch.  Now, please.

Credit: The Weinstein Company

Exclusive: Paul Rudd torments his family and fashion on new 'Our Idiot Brother' poster

Elizabeth Banks, Emily Mortimer, and Zooey Deschanel join Rudd for new one-sheet

The Crocs alone are going to get me in the theater.

I'm sure there are people out there who don't like Paul Rudd, but I can't actually recall meeting any of them.  I know first-hand the effect he has on the ladies, because I've witnessed it whenever my wife is around him or even watching him, and I think there is an entire generation of women who were marked for life by "Clueless."  For comedy fans, there was a rebirth of Rudd that started with "Wet Hot American Summer" and really picked up speed thanks to "Anchorman."  And Hollywood loves him, as evidenced by James L. Brooks casting him as the lead in his last film and actually casting Jack Nicholson to play his dad.

When you talk to Rudd about comedy, it's obvious that he's a huge fan and a rabid consumer, a guy who is almost always out there pushing for the new.  One of the reasons I love seeing him make comedies is because I know how seriously he takes it.  You should listen to the new "Comedy Bang-Bang" podcast, where host Scott Aukerman talks to Rudd, David Wain, and Ken Marino about the making of "Wet Hot."  Rudd's great at taking what is on the page and making it live and breathe, but he's also one of those guys who is just painfully funny in off-hand conversation.

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<p>I don't know about 'Black Hats,' but Harrison Ford was definitely rocking the black shades at Saturday night's Comic-Con premiere of 'Cowboys and Aliens'</p>

I don't know about 'Black Hats,' but Harrison Ford was definitely rocking the black shades at Saturday night's Comic-Con premiere of 'Cowboys and Aliens'

Credit: AP Photo/Dan Steinberg

Harrison Ford saddles up again for 'Black Hats' as Wyatt Earp

The 'Cowboys and Aliens' star attaches himself to Max Allan Collins adaptation

Harrison Ford must have had a good time riding and shooting for "Cowboys and Aliens," because he's signed to play Wyatt Earp in an adaptation of "Black Hats," a Max Allan Collins novel. 

Collins also wrote "Road To Perdition," and he's a damn fine comic and prose writer.  Pulpy and smart, he's got a knack for hooks.  He knows how to set up a good game of "what if?", and in this case, Wyatt Earp shows up in New York in the '20s to check in on the son of Doc Holliday, only to end up butting heads with a young Al Capone who is leaning on Holliday's son's speakeasy.

My review of "Cowboys and Aliens" isn't ready to be published quite yet, but since both Variety and the Reporter have published and other people are starting to show up on Rotten Tomatoes, it's a safe bet I'll be jumping into the mix sooner rather than later.

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<p>The cast of the new film 'Immortals' poses with director Tarsem Singh after their panel at today's Comic-Con in San&nbsp;Diego.</p>

The cast of the new film 'Immortals' poses with director Tarsem Singh after their panel at today's Comic-Con in San Diego.

Credit: AP Photo/Denis Poroy

Comic-Con: 'Immortals' brings out Lutz, Cahill, Pinto and spills some blood

A gorgeous cast of both genders shows up in support of Tarsem Singh's vision

SAN DIEGO - If you followed our WonderCon coverage this year, then you saw a fair amount of material about Tarsem Singh's new film, "Immortals."  We interviewed the cast and the director, we spoke with producer Mark Canton, and I even moderated the panel with Henry Cavill and Luke Evans.  I walked away from that thinking that the film looks very stylish, and that it's obvious Tarsem's not doing anything like a traditional take on mythology, but instead a supercharged superhero take on gods and titans.

There were two chunks of new footage from the film shown today in Hall H, the first of which showed scenes from throughout the film.  "Long before Man roamed these lands, there was a war in Heaven.  The victors declared themselves Gods.  The vanquished were renamed Titans and imprisoned deep inside a mountain."

The film deals with King Hyperion (Mickey Rourke) deciding he is going to unleash those titans to topple the gods, and the gods turning to Theseus, the one human they think can lead an army against Hyperion.  Much slow-motion and bloodshed ensues.

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<p>Andrew Garfield opened the 'Spider-Man' panel today with a heartfelt statement about what the character means to him, delivered from the audience.</p>

Andrew Garfield opened the 'Spider-Man' panel today with a heartfelt statement about what the character means to him, delivered from the audience.

Credit: AP Photo

Comic-Con: 'Spider-Man' and 'Ghost Rider' bookend sprawling Sony panel

See the moment that made Andrew Garfield a star in Hall H

SAN DIEGO - With no Batman or Superman or Avengers in sight, there was one title that seemed to be the most anticipated of Comic-Con, but the release of the first teaser trailer for "The Amazing Spider-Man" took some of the wind out of the Sony sails on the eve of this week's event.  They had something to prove with today's panel, and I'd say based on the footage they showed and the conversation with the filmmakers that happened onstage, they may have walked away having turned the opinion of most of Hall H around.

Sony's one of the only studios to throw what felt like a conventional Comic-Con panel this year, with four different films all given the star treatment back to back to back to back.  They were smart to bookend the panel with their two superhero titles because that meant the captive audience sat through presentations they might not have otherwise, and overall, it was a confident display that seemed to accomplish exactly what they set out to accomplish.

The big question for most fans about another "Ghost Rider" film is "why?"  After all, the first one is one of the stranger Marvel misfires, and he's always been a character that is known primarily for how he looks, not for any particular storyline.  I remember talking to Nicolas Cage on the set of "Kick-Ass" about the possibility of a sequel, and at that point, his big idea involved Johnny Blaze going to work for the Vatican as a demon hunter.  I have no idea based on what we saw today whether that's still an element of the film or not, but one thing's for sure.  The new "Ghost Rider" movie is going to be absolutely barking mad.

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<p>In this new still from 'The Adventures Of Tintin,' Tintin and Captain Haddock are either racing away from trouble or towards it.&nbsp; Or both.&nbsp; Probably both.</p>

In this new still from 'The Adventures Of Tintin,' Tintin and Captain Haddock are either racing away from trouble or towards it.  Or both.  Probably both.

Credit: Paramount/Nickelodeon

Comic-Con: Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson entertain at 'Adventures Of Tintin' panel

A great hour spent with two genre titans

SAN DIEGO - Say what you will about the merits or demerits of an event like Comic-Con, but the first-ever appearance by Steven Spielberg in Hall H was a genuinely stirring way to kick off a Friday, and moments like these make a strong case for this as more than "just" a promotional event.

Comic-Con took advantage of the moment with Paramount to play it up, awarding him the Inkpot that I've seen them give to other legends like Hayao Miyazaki the year he brought "Ponyo."  Before they brought the legendary director out, they ran a clips package cut to various pieces of John Williams music composed for those films, and it's one of those things that you can't get wrong.  When you're pulling images and moments and iconic beats from "Jurassic Park" and "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" and "E.T." and "Temple of Doom" and "Close Encounters" and "War Of The Worlds" and "A.I." and "Sugarland Express" and "Duel" and "Munich" and even "Hook" and "Empire Of the Sun" and "Always," you're going to find way more than enough material to work with.  The music, the images, the memories they evoke… this is a career you can't argue with, and it always amuses me when contrarians try to take something away from Spielberg's reputation.  Few filmmakers, living or dead, have ever worked with this kind of focused skill for as long or in as many genres as Spielberg, and the images he's created are a roadmap through the pop culture of the last 40 years.

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<p>Paul Reubens took the stage in San Diego to celebrate the pact with Satan that has kept him looking young enough to play Pee-Wee Herman for the past quarter-century with little or no visible change.</p>

Paul Reubens took the stage in San Diego to celebrate the pact with Satan that has kept him looking young enough to play Pee-Wee Herman for the past quarter-century with little or no visible change.

Credit: AP Photo/Gregory Bull

Comic-Con: Fast and funny Pee-Wee Herman invades Hall H

A promo stop for his upcoming DVD turns into a love fest

SAN DIEGO - Since Disney decided not to bring "The Muppets" to San Diego to help promote their new movie this fall, my guess is the most direct hit of bottled childhood available to Comic-Con attendees walked out onstage today to thunderous applause in a familiar grey suit and red bowtie.

Ostensibly, Paul Reubens appeared to promote the upcoming home video release of "The Pee-Wee Herman Show On Broadway," which appeared on HBO, but it really felt more like he showed up just to say hello and answer some questions.  They opened the panel with a clip from the show, the opening few minutes of the special, and then Eric "Quint" Vespe walked out to start the panel with no announcement or preamble from anyone else.

That's appropriate.  When I went to see "The Pee-Wee Herman Show" in Los Angeles at LA Live with my wife and my son, Eric was also there that night.  He and another friend flew in expressly to go see the show, and talking afterwards, it was obvious that the night meant quite a bit to him.  To see him sit onstage in Hall H steering the conversation with Pee Wee is a great pleasure, and it came across much better than a more polished promotional thing might have.

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<p>Hugh Grant plays the lead role in what looks like a delightful new family comedy from Aardman Animation, 'The Pirates!&nbsp;Band of Misfits'</p>

Hugh Grant plays the lead role in what looks like a delightful new family comedy from Aardman Animation, 'The Pirates! Band of Misfits'

Credit: Sony Animation/Aardman

Comic-Con: Sony Animation panel puts Aardman's 'Pirates' front and center

Some very funny clips suggest the 'Wallace & Gromit' creators are in fine form

SAN DIEGO - It was a relaxing, enjoyable day in Hall H, and no one is more shocked to type those words than I am.

"Twilight" fans lined up for days, literally, to get into the first panel of the morning, and I was worried about how that would impact my ability to get into Hall H for the panel afterwards.  Turns out it was incredibly simple, and I was able to just stroll right in, early enough that I ended up seeing about half of the "Twilight: Breaking Dawn" panel.  It's still strange to me to see Bill Condon up there in the midst of all of this, and I'm not going to write about the film at this point.  I will say that the guy sitting behind me with Tourette's made the entire experience much more surreal, though, and the only person who dropped the F-bomb in that room more times today was Guillermo Del Toro.

Speaking of which, once the "Twilight" panel ended, but before the Sony Animation panel started, we got an unscheduled sneak peek at Morgan Spurlock's new Comic-Con documentary, and it looks like a very heartfelt and genuine portrait of fandom, not a movie that makes fun of geeks.  Some familiar faces like Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, and Seth Rogen show up as talking head interviews, and there are lots and lots of costumes and fans on display as well. I thought the money quote came from Del Toro, who said, "Comic-Con is like a Russian doll.  There are many Comic-Cons within Comic-Con."  Very true.  I may spend my time focused on Hall H and the film events, but it's possible to come here and never once set foot in that room and have an amazing time.  It all depends on what you want to get out of the con, and I look forward to seeing "Comic Con Episode IV: A Fan's Hope" this fall.

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