Monday, September 27, 2010

Woman in Black and Sherlock Holmes News


I know, a little off the track but sometimes you need something a little different.

First up is the pic posted above of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe filming The Woman in Black, an upcoming supernatural thriller where he plays (and I'm quoting from the article posted at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/8027809/Daniel-Radcliffe-pictured-in-The-Woman-in-Black.html) "a young solicitor who is sent to a remote spot to sort out a client's affairs following their death. During his stay he is increasingly haunted by a mysterious ghostly figure, with local villagers unwilling to explain the significance of her appearance." What's interesting about the film is it's the first new film from the revived Hammer Films, the legendary British film studio that revived Gothic horror in the 1950s with films like The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula and such latter cult favorites like Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. For this horror fan, who has grown tired of pointless remakes and even more pointless sequels (really Saw VII in 3D is going to be an improvement?) I welcome a return back to classic horror. Also there is a brief John Carter of Mars connection-Ciaran Hinds is also in the cast.

And going from horror to Holmes, Heatvision is reporting that actor Stephen Fry has commented that he has joined the cast of the upcoming Sherlock Holmes 2 as Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother. He will be joined by Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as well as Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (of the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films) for the sequel. You can read more at http://heatvision.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/09/sherlock-holmes-2-stephen-fry.html UPDATE SEPT 29: Following up that casting, Moriarty has also been found-actor Jared Harris, recently seen on the award winning TV series Mad Men has been cast in the role according to http://heatvision.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/09/sherlock-holmes-2-jared-harris-mad-men.html

Thursday, September 23, 2010

John Carter of Mars: From 1991-2006


I'm still reading the last script that has appeared online but I figured that it might save time to go ahead and for the benefit of those few readers I get to fill out the rest of the history of the film's long trip to the big screen. Hopefully I got most of it right, if not someone will please let me know.

I last left off with the hiring of director John McTiernan and the script by Bob Gale in 1990-91. We now jump ahead to '92 where yet another screenwriter has come on board-Sam Resnick, who had written the script for a made for TV version of Robin Hood that McTiernan had produced. It was around this time that Disney also decided to cast the two leads with none other than Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts both approached. (I guess it shows how different Disney is today-at the time they were going after the two biggest movie stars on the planet while the upcoming Andrew Stanton film has two of the biggest unknowns as John Carter and Dejah Thoris.) But here's where things fell apart. According to what I've heard Cruise disliked the script and passed while McTiernan had just scored a major bust with the Sean Connery turkey Medicine Man. Afterwards he left to helm the infamous Last Action Hero.

Surprisingly though that wasn't Disney's last attempt. The studio brought on two new screenwriters to tackle the film-well known fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin (whose novel A Game of Thrones is set to be a HBO series next year) and sci-fi novelist Melinda Snodgrass around 1993-94 (I'm guessing.) I haven't seen their script nor has anyone else that I know but Martin talks about it here http://www.abebooks.com/docs/Fantasy/george-martin.shtml, even though he gives the impression he doesn't think much of Edgar Rice Burroughs or the series itself.

After that, well nothing until 2000 when the ERB fan newsletter The Gridley Wave announced that Disney had dropped the project and the film rights were up for grabs. The rights were eventually snapped up by Paramount around 2002-03. And unlike Disney they didn't waste any time attaching a director and writer: Robert Rodriguez, the indie wunderkind behind El Mariachi and the Spy Kids series and writer Mark Protosevich, whose only credit at the time was the Jennifer Lopez thriller The Cell (since then he wrote the Will Smith I Am Legend and is a writer on the upcoming Thor.) Two other names were also mentioned in connection with the project at the time-Aint It Cool News mastermind Harry Knowles, who was attached as producer and legendary artist Frank Frazetta. In his tribute to Frazetta posted here http://www.aintitcool.com/node/45023 Knowles mentions that while his health prevented any contribution artistically, Frazetta had agreed to oversee the concept artists working on the project. Well this first attempt fell apart, thanks indirectly to Frank Miller (Isn't that been the case for so much?) Prior to starting, Rodriguez has just finished Sin City and wanted Miller to share co-directing credit, something the Directors Guild of America objected to. In response Rodriguez resigned from the guild, which led Paramount (who apparently has a company policy to use only guild members) to have to replace him.

Our next director and writer brought on board also I'm sure raised eyebrows-Kerry Conran, who had just helmed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and writer Ehren Kruger, best known for thrillers like The Ring and Scream 3. This one also fell apart but for reasons that I have not ever discovered. I'm sure Sky Captain's poor box-office probably played a factor. Interestingly this one seems to have had the most work leak out online-the script, test animation by Steve Meyer, concept art by Raafel Kayaan, and some recent photos of a Thark sculpture by FX artist John Cox. (Most of this I have linked to in previous posts and the review of the script is coming soon.)

The final stab at Paramount came once again with an unlikely director-a pre-Iron Man Jon Favreau. He brought on board writer Mark Fergus (who after his time on the project would co-writer the scripts for Children of Men and Iron Man, as well as Favreau's upcoming Cowboys and Aliens.) This time around it was the studio that pulled the plug. Now I've heard conflicting reasons for this-a corporate shakeup at the studio; a new head at the time who disliked the project; Paramount deciding to save money and resurrect their own sci-fi property Star Trek and Favreau leaving to do Iron Man. I had hoped that Favreau would have returned-especially after the brilliant work on Iron Man but obviously that wasn't to be. We did get to see some of the artwork for his version by artist Phil Saunders (used above and again linked in previous posts).

And that brings us up to 2007, when Disney reacquired the rights, hired Andrew Stanton and the film now set for 2012. And let's not forget Asylum, who beat them to the punch and got their version out last year (since I'm sure Stanton and Disney will act like their version is the first version ever made.) It's been a long road to get to this point and we'll just have to wait and see if the wait was worth it.

Retro View: Flash Gordon


Who's ready to go to Mongo?

The world is having problems. An unidentified planet is hurtling through space on an apparent collision course with Earth, which leads to mass hysteria. Traveling home to be with his father, famed polo player Flash Gordon (Larry "Buster" Crabbe) meets lovely Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) as they both have to bail out of their plane when it hits bad weather. And of course they happen to land right near a rocket ship created by Hans Zarkov (Frank Shannon) and agree to go on his mad mission to save the world. And you can figure out the rest-they land on that unidentified planet called Mongo and meet the Emperor Ming (Charles Middleton) who decides to send Zarkov to his lab, marry Dale and get rid of that annoying blond guy until Ming's daughter Aura (Priscilla Lawson) gets the hots for our hero which helps him escape and establish ties with Thun the Lion Man, the rightful heir to Mongo's throne Prince Barin (Richard Alexander) and the boisterous Vultan (John Lipson), king of the Hawkmen in his attempt to save Earth. Will he succeed? Well considering I'm reviewing the three backwards I guess you can tell how it turns out in the last chapter.

I have to admit a soft spot for old Flash Gordon. He is-outside of John Carter-probably the best space hero ever created-a normal guy fighting to save the galaxy, rescue the hot babe and stop the bad guy's evil plot. It makes sense that virtually every "pulp" sci-fi creation since Alex Raymond's creation made his debut in the funny pages in 1934-from Star Trek to Star Wars to Avatar-owes more than a passing tribute to Flash, who himself was pretty much influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And I have a soft spot for this serial as well, even with its uneven acting, effects that seem laughable compared to today's technical wizardry and the bizarre lack of pants on the male characters.

What is probably most surprising is how faithful it is to Raymond's strip. The characters and the plot are all presented pretty much as they were in the comics, which is a rarity then and even now. The biggest scene stealer is Middleton who brings Ming-with all of his Fu Manchu influence-to life in a way that wouldn't make it past the PC Police today (if you doubt it, just remember how boring Ming was in that awful Sci-Fi Channel series from a few years ago.) Middleton is almost upstaged by both Lipson's funny Vultan (even though I admit to still liking Brian Blessed's take in the 1980 film best) and the female characters' skimpy outfits. As Flash Crabbe hasn't gotten comfortable with the character as he would in the next serial. Here he mostly shows off his athleticism and does have some moments with Rogers that adds some romance-something notably absent in the next two (I guess the kids weren't interested in the smoochy stuff.)

In the end is this the best serial ever made? Possibly (even though I still prefer Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars and Adventures of Captain Marvel). Is it the most fun? Definitely. Rating: **** out of 4.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Script Review: A Princess of Mars 1991


Tharks singing. That's right.

When we last left off, it was March 1990. We now jump ahead a little to August and Disney has announced a director for the film-John McTiernan who was coming off of three successful films (Predator, Die Hard and The Hunt for Red October.) About this time writer Bob Gale was brought on board to rework the script and that's the script I'm about to review. What's interesting about Gale being brought on board was compared to the previous writers he had some major blockbusters under his screenwriting belt with the Back to the Future trilogy. He was also more of a comedy writer, co-writing such films with Robert Zemeckis like Zemeckis' Beatles-inspired I Wanna Hold Your Hand and Steven Spielberg's infamous 1941. And that in fact is probably the major difference between the Ted Elliot-Terry Rossio script and this one-a lot of comedy. And that's the biggest problem. I don't know if Disney thought going down this route was a good idea or not but it's there.

As for the major plot, actually very little has changed from the previous script. So here's the major differences I've noticed compared to that script:

-The script is a "fourth draft" dated January 1991. It states it is based on both Edgar Rice Burroughs' novel and the Elliot-Rossio script.
-The first page is actually a "opening title crawl" that informs the viewer (or in this case the reader) that "this motion picture is based on the writings of John Carter of Virginia..." It also states that certain "liberties" were taken with this film and that it won't "detract from your enjoyment" of the film (CYNIC ALERT-Maybe Andrew Stanton needs to add this.)
-The opening scene is the arrival of Edgar Rice Burroughs to the estate of his late uncle. Unlike the earlier script, ERB here is 35-which is a nice touch since Burroughs himself didn't start writing A Princess of Mars until then.
-We meet John Carter and his friend "Jim-Boy" Powell while they're fighting off claim jumpers. None of the drawn out action of the earlier script. Powell is killed and Carter runs into the cave and his trapped by a cave-in. A lot of bad jokes about Powell's interest in "Chinese girls" shows up here.

-This time John is hit by an "orb of blue light" and then finds himself inside the Atmosphere Factory. This time around the factory just fails and the Keeper sends him out towards Helium to bring help in order to fix it. He is given a medallion that tells how the atmosphere is doing and is to present it to the "Great Oracle of Helium." I wonder if he bakes cookies?

-John is a klutz who at one point jumps and yells "my ankle!" Cue comedy reaction from the Keeper.

-John's meeting with the Tharks is the same as in the novel and the previous draft.

-The character of Zad-introduced in the earlier draft as Tars Tarkas' right hand Thark-is pretty much the Sarkoja character here.

-This time John learns Barsoomian languages courtesy of a "jukal worm," a maggot like creature he is forced to ingest. Interestingly the Asylum version used something similiar to this in their film.

-John Carter sings Camptown Races and Tars Tarkas wants to learn it. He also tells them that Doo-Dah is an Earth god. Heaven help us.

-The air battle where Dejah Thoris is captured is one of the better scenes. Here we also meet Sab Than, written as a scarred axe-wielding psycho who slaughters Thark children and has a brief encounter with John who calls him "Scarface." Say hello to my little friend!

-The rest of the script follows Burroughs with the trial of Dejah by the Tharks and the introduction of Tal Hajus. More groan-inducing comedy when the Tharks mispronounce Virginia as "Vagina."

-Sola tells her story before John rescues Dejah.

-We learn that the Zodangans have been attacking Helium for weeks and that they had planned to hold Dejah for ransom as the cause for the air battle. No conspiracy plot as in the previous script.

-John and Dejah play "doctor" and have a romantic roll in the sand. Well at least we know where Carthoris came from since the previous script had no such scene.

-Dejah and Sola are captured by the Zodangans and Dejah agrees to marry Sab Than to save the planet. For her part Sola is tossed overboard but saved by an air current coming out of holes that produce the air.

-John is recaptured and forced to do combat in a gladiatorial arena with Tars Tarkas. This scene is very similiar to the one in the previous script, complete with the same outcome. Except for Zad who runs for the hills and gets his head shot off by Tars.

-Kantos Kan arrives to find John Carter. The Tharks ride to battle singing Camptown Races.

-The final conflict takes place in Helium where the wedding is to take place. Here it's Tardors Mors as Dejah's father. A long chase scene through the castle ensues and John kills Sab Than-thanks to the lack of witnesses and a burning ship crashing around them he solves the whole "I can't marry Dejah if I kill Sab" problem. And this is our hero-a cheater?

-A trip back to the factory, and there is a hitch-some tubes need to be changed out. Guess who does it? Yep and that's how John gets zapped back to Earth.

-The script does end the same with Edgar discovering John's empty casket and the same shot of Dejah and Woola outside watching a falling star.

So was that bad enough for you all? I don't want to make it sound like Bob Gale is a bad writer-after all Back to the Future is a great movie-but what happened? Was Disney wanting a comedy suddenly? I have to say we should be all thankful this one never got made. Next time we wrap up the Mouse's first attempt at Barsoom and look at Paramount's attempts.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Retro View: Starcrash


I'll have my review of the second A Princess of Mars script up this weekend but for now let's journey to another galaxy for what has to be one of the wackiest sci-fi films ever made.

The universe here is split into two factions-one governed by the benign Emperor of the Universe (Christopher Plummer), the other by the evil Count Zarth Arn (Joe Spinell) who is plotting to overthrow the Emperor with his powerful new weapon-which basically is red balls called Red Monsters that cause mass havoc. Thrown into this conflict is Stella Star (Caroline Munro), the best pilot in this galaxy-or at least the most scantly clad-and her alien sidekick Akton (Marjoe Gortner) who are both promised a pardon from jail time if they track down any survivors from the Count's previous attack. The two agree and head off with a green faced (most of the time anyway) alien (Robert Tessier) and Elle (Judd Hamilton) a robot cop with a cowboy accent. Along the way they encounter treachery, a race of hot amazons, troglodytes and the Emperor's son Simon (David Hasslehoff) before the final battle that will determine who will rule the galaxy.

Following the release of Star Wars, sci-fi films seemed to be split into two types-dark and serious and light and campy. The former included Ridley Scott's sci-fi/horror classic Alien, Disney's dull and dreary The Black Hole and the motionless Star Trek-The Motion Picture while the latter included the Buck Rogers TV series and the 1980 Flash Gordon. Starcrash definitely falls into the second camp-and boy is it camp. Made more as a homage by writer/director Luigi Cozzi (under the pseudonym Lewis Coates) to previous sci-fi and fantasy films like Invaders from Mars, Barbarella, the Flash Gordon serials and the work of Ray Harryhausen (especially Jason and the Argonauts and The 7th Voyage of Sinbad) than as a clone of George Lucas' epic-even though our heroes wave lightsabers at one point-the film has its tongue firmly in cheek. I mean how can you take a film with a robot with a Western accent or David Hasslehoff as the potential future emperor of the universe seriously?

That's not to say Starcrash isn't without its flaws. There is no plot really to speak off, just a series of incidents that our heroes find themselves in. The effects also don't hold a candle to Lucas or Harryhausen's work-even though at least they are real, which is something that has been lost in this day and age. I also liked some of the performances-especially Gortner's Akton, possibly the most chipper alien ever on screen and Spinell's scenery chewing Zarth Arn. And of course it sports one of the most beautiful women of the 1970s in Caroline Munro, who by this point had had an impressive list of cult classics (Captain Kronos-Vampire Hunter, The Golden Voyage of Sinbad and At The Earth's Core) under her belt when she played Stella. It's just a shame she was dubbed for the film. And honestly I liked Elle the robot. It was a lot better than the Slim Pickens voiced robot in The Black Hole. The music, by James Bond composer John Barry, is also very good-in fact much better than you would normally suspect with this type of film.

Of course the film is pure cheese-from the costumes (which looked like leftovers from previous Italian sci-fi flicks like Planet of the Vampires) to the sight of Christopher Plummer in costume delivering his lines like he's doing a Shakespearean Star Trek (which is funny since he did that later in Star Trek VI) to the fact that Zarth Arn's ship basically looks like a giant hand, it's all Gouda. And that is the fun of it. Just don't look for a serious epic and you'll might enjoy it. Rating (with extra cheese): *** out of 4

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Triad's John Carter of Mars!


Who knew that this month would be so busy with news? In this case Triad Toys are now taking pre-orders for their John Carter and Tars Tarkas figures at http://www.triadtoys.com/Licenses/John+Carter+of+Mars.htm They both look good but I wonder if Triad has any discounts?

Monday, September 13, 2010

VOTD: The Solo Adventures


I wasn't planning on posting anything today but this just tickled my funny bone. Star Wars: The Solo Adventures 3D is a humorous animated short that fills in one piece of the story I don't think anybody ever thought about-the incident that caused Han Solo to dump his payload and be pursued by Jabba the Hutt. You can see both the 3d version here http://www.atom.com/funny_videos/3EFBFFFF01EA5278001700FF78ED, a non 3D version on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVnMxAZjMsI and this brief article on it at http://starwarsblog.starwars.com/index.php/2010/08/24/fan-movie-winner-profile-the-solo-adventures/ . (Just make sure to have the red/green glasses it says for the 3D version.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Script Review: A Princess of Mars 1990


Okay I promised so here goes. But first a brief history lesson (if you know the history of John Carter and his slow move to the big screen you can skip this.)

I've already written briefly about the unmade Bob Clampett version and linked to artwork from Amicus Films' attempt. In 1986 Disney acquired the rights for the first time and began the long process of adapting Edgar Rice Burroughs to the big screen. The first writer hired was Charles Edward Pogue, best known for the scripts for David Cronenberg's The Fly and the ill-fated Kull the Conqueror. His script was turned in around 1987. A year later a second writer was hired-Terry Black, who was hired based on his script for the zombie buddy comedy Dead Heat. (I found an interview on the Los Angeles Times website from 1988 where he talks about the project here http://articles.latimes.com/1988-12-10/news/li-1370_1_gorgeous-princess.) After Black's involvement, it was two years later when the third scriptwriters were hired-Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. At the time the duo's only produced script was Little Monsters, a forgettable kiddie comedy with Fred Savage. Since then the pair have co-written such flicks like Disney's Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, the first Shrek and the scripts for all of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. So how was their script you ask?

Dated March 12, 1990 and called The Chronicles of John Carter: Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars, the script opens with the arrival of young Burroughs (described as being in his "mid-twenties, tall, handsome...") at the estate left to him by his uncle John Carter. The estate comes with a restored house, a mausoleum that John has been interred in and an observatory. Inside it Edgar finds his uncle's written manuscript that relates his wild tale.

Having gone west after the Civil War has ended John Carter and his friend James Powell have found a rich vein of quartz when they are attacked by claim jumpers. After a lengthy sequence of driving them off only for them to capture Powell and John rescuing him, the pair make for "Superstition Mountain" (as its called in the script). Powell is killed and John is hit with a "flat plane of light" that causes him to disappear. He then appears inside an atmosphere factory on Barsoom where he meets the keeper, who keeps the factory running. But when it is attacked by three red men, John must seek help before the factory fails completely. On his way he meets the Tharks-written as four armed, seven foot tall creatures-and he becomes a member of the tribe after proving his mettle in a duel. While that is going on we also meet Dejah Thoris, the princess of Helium who finds herself being pursued by Zodanga's new ruler Sab Than. Unknown to her Sab Than is behind the attacks on the factory and is leaving evidence that points to the Tharks. Dejah leaves to plead with the Tharks to stop the attacks and is captured, meets John Carter and the two attempt to save Barsoom.

I have to admit the Rossio and Elliott's script was...OK. It maintained several scenes and elements from Burroughs' original novel-most notably John's first meeting with the Tharks and the character of Sola. But it goes off on its own direction pretty quickly. So what did I like and didn't?

The likes:
-John Carter and Dejah Thoris are both pretty well written. John is portrayed as a man of action who finds himself in love with a woman for the first time while Dejah is a regal, intelligent woman who shows herself willing to make sacrifices for her people. At the very least John isn't spouting one-liners and Dejah isn't a "blitzing" warrior princess as has been mentioned with the upcoming movie.
-Sola is also well-written. In fact she's pretty much the same character from the novel and her scene where she reveals her parentage is the best written scene in the script.
-I also like how Rossio and Elliott build up Sab Than as a charmer in the opening scenes before his true colors are revealed. It's also interesting how he uses Helium's fear of the Tharks in order to manipulate them.
-The action scenes for the most part delivered-I especially like the climactic battle on a Zodangan cruiser and a chase in a flier over Zodanga with Dejah at the helm.

What I didn't like-
-The Renegade Keeper. Introduced early in the script is this character, who is manipulating Sab Than with the promise that he can keep the factories working. His motivation is weak in the script-it seems at most he's just tired of his job and wants out. I also don't care for the idea of Sab Than being manipulated by another character because ultimately it makes Sab less interesting. Maybe it explains why I'm not crazy about Stanton's decision to add Matai Shang as some sort of "master of the universe" character.
-The whole Atmosphere Factory plot. Having read the other two scripts that I got as well as what has been said and reported about Stanton's version, it seems each writer involved has felt that they need a Macguffin in order to make the film work along with some major villain for our hero to overcome. That the idea of the story being about John Carter's arrival on Barsoom and his exploration of the planet and his attempt to rescue and return Dejah to Helium and his falling in love with her isn't interesting enough to make a movie out of. I don't know I guess I always liked the first novel because of that. It wasn't about egomanical madmen trying to conquer the world. It was about love and honor. I guess that just isn't enough.

In the end would this have worked as a film? It would have been interesting to have seen how this one turned out but I'm sure some will breathe a sigh of relief it never got off the ground. Then again at least Rossio and Elliott don't have shape shifting Therns so I got to give them credit for that.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Retro View: Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars


Before he conquered the universe...

As our story opens, our trio of heroes-Flash Gordon (Larry "Buster" Crabbe), Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) and Dr. Zarkov (Frank Shannon) have just returned from their adventures on Mongo to a find a grateful Earth giving them a hero's welcome. But there is no rest as the planet is soon racked with unexplained weather problems, leading to mass destruction. The cause as we soon learn is that precious nitrogen is being sucked out of the atmosphere by an unknown beam. It isn't too long before Flash, Dale and Zarkov hop back into their rocket ship and head off to stop the beam which they think is coming from Mongo. Instead they-and a hapless stowaway reporter (Donald Kerr) nicknamed Happy-discover that the beam is actually come from nearby Mars. Once landing they discover a war is going on between the despotic Azura (Beatrice Roberts), the self described "Queen of Magic" and the Clay People-former Martians turned into living clay and that Azura's Nitron Lamp is zapping the Earth's nitrogen for use in her bombers. And of course Flash and company soon discover Azura's ally-old Ming the Merciless (Charles Middleton) who has his own plans for conquest. Can Flash save the day and both Earth and Mars?

Made two years after the first serial, Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars is in many respects the best of the three Flash serials Universal would produce. Unlike the first one-which suffers from a slow pace at times-this one moves pretty fast, which is pretty impressive considering its 15 chapter length and manages to entertain the viewer, even if some of it might come across as silly to more cynical viewers. Yes there is still the space ships on wires, the sometimes silly dialogue, goofy costumes (especially love Dale and Azura's clothes-they both look like they're going to a dinner party), Happy-who basically is the Jar Jar Binks of his time- and the cliffhangers, even though they at least don't cheat as much as some serials.

But that's what makes this fun. It is 1930s pulp science fiction at its finest. The actors take it all with the utmost sincerity-especially Crabbe who is more comfortable here than the first time around and brings to Flash intelligence (something most of the other versions haven't) and a dash and vitality that puts most of today's comic book actors to shame. But upstaging even him is Middleton who steals the show as Ming. From the first chapter to the last he shows what a pure egomanical villain is-and definetly paved the way for everyone from Lex Luthor to the Emperor Palpatine. From a technical angle the serial also has a polish most serials lacked and I did like the episode intros using comic strip panels.

The only thing missing is a four armed Thark. Beyond that though this is probably the best Flash Gordon film ever made and pure pulpy fun. Just sit back and enjoy the ride (even though I would recommend spreading it out over a few days). Rating: **** out of 4

Friday, September 10, 2010

An Early Tars Tarkas-Plus Upcoming Blog News


Yep its Tars going full monty! This model was apparently done for the 1980s film version of John Carter of Mars, even though a picture of it being sculpted by artist Lyle Conway (who worked on The Dark Crystal and Return to Oz among others) is captioned as coming from 1983 in this page on ERBZine http://www.erbzine.com/mag5/0534.html (Disney acquired the rights in 1986 so somebody's dates aren't right.) It's still an interesting glimpse of what could have been. And using that as a segue way in the next few weeks I'll be posting reviews of some scripts that were written for the previous attempts at a John Carter movie. You can download them on this page http://www.mypdfscripts.com/category/unproduced/page/2 (It also has for those interested John Milius' script for the unproduced King Conan: Crown of Iron. I might have to give that one a glimpse as well.)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Willem Dafoe on John Carter (Plus a New Look!)


A new look and some new comments from Tars Tarkas himself. Promoting the upcoming film A Woman, directed by his wife Giada Colagrande, at the Venice Film Festival, Willem Dafoe briefly spoke about John Carter of Mars, commenting "I think it is going to be an important movie. It's very big, it has lots of special effects, live action mixed with special effects." Well at least we know it will be big based on all the comments made by the actors. You can read more of his interview at http://www.ktul.com/Global/story.asp?S=13119118

And yes the blog has gotten a new look. Let me know what you think, if you liked the earlier version better.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Concept Art from Peter Berg's Dune


Well I hope those in the US are enjoying Labor Day while the rest of you guys are at least not working too hard. With that said, once again we have concept art, this time from director Peter Berg's version of Dune which he eventually departed from (apparently because he needed to sink Taylor Kitsch's Battleship.) The site Cinematical has posted several pieces as well as a brief history of the previous attempts at Frank Herbert's epic. The film is currently set to be directed by Taken director Pierre Morel for release in 2012 according to the article. You can see more at http://www.cinematical.com/2010/09/06/dune-concept-art-peter-berg/

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Killraven-The Movie? (And the Final Reviews)


Does this sound familiar-vicious Martians, a hero named John, a quest to save a world. Well we might get two. In an interview with MTV, Marvel's editor in chief Joe Quesada stated he would love to see Marvel's own Martian fighter John Killraven get his own film or even a TV series at least according to this statement: "Killraven to me, is such a great concept. You take the idea of Spartacus, except instead of it being Romans, it's Martians. You're on Mars, and it's a new race, and you're a human gladiator on Mars. That, to me, is epic. It's the coolest idea imaginable...and probably a $200 million movie." Maybe Disney-who now owns Marvel-can always put this on if John Carter of Mars fails. You can read more at http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/joshw24/news/?a=221

And the reviews of the final three Barsoom novels are now finished-Synthetic Men of Mars http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2009/09/synthetic-men-of-mars-john-carter-of.html; Llana of Gathol http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2009/10/llana-of-gathol-john-carter-of-mars.html; and John Carter of Mars http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2009/10/john-carter-of-mars-book-11.html I'm sure some Joog fan will hate me though.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Taylor Kitsch in Costume! (And Some Barsoom Reviews)


But as you can tell not as John Carter. Instead we get some pics from Mr. Kitsch's other big budget 2012 release Battleship (you can add your own "you sank my battleship jokes) here http://ramascreen.com/look-at-taylor-kitsch-without-his-gambit-hair-in-these-battleship-set-photos/ I wonder how many of his fans are in mourning for the loss of his hair?

On the Barsoom front, io9 has now posted up their reviews of the entire Barsoom series at http://io9.com/tag/readingbarsoom/. There is some interesting comments on the series and how it progressed, even though there was one major error. See if you can find it (A hint-Tara's chess mate.)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

ERB's Birthday!


Can't come up with another headline, so there it is. The creator of John Carter, Tarzan, Carson of Venus and Pellucidar was born this very day 135 years ago. Let's hope that the upcoming John Carter of Mars and Tarzan movies live up to his legacy.