Monday, December 26, 2011

John Carter Japanese Trailer (And Some Ranting)

Well I hope you survived Christmas and had a good one. Now to work-during the break a Japanese trailer for John Carter surfaced online, showing off more footage. And well...first if you haven't already watch the trailer below before you continue reading.

OK now we can talk. As you can tell by the headline, there is going to be ranting and it isn't going to be pleasant. As you can tell this trailer is attempting to fill in the backstory of John Carter before his arrival on Barsoom. And that is the part of the movie I am having the biggest problem with. No it isn't the casting of former Spy Kid Daryl Sabara as Edgar Rice Burroughs (which I still feel is a big joke). No it isn't that glowing blue device that looks like has taken the place of Burroughs' astral projection for how John arrives on Barsoom (even if it looks like a silly, cheap prop from the Asylum movie). Nope-it's the former Mrs. Carter and child. Yes apparently to flesh out John Carter's history Andrew Stanton and his co-writers have decided to have John have a family before he hits Mars...and have them killed off. Admittedly this wasn't a total secret. For months-in fact around the time of the reshoots the film underwent after Stanton screened it for his Pixar buddies-an actress named Amanda Clayton was added to the cast list in the Internet Movie Database as "Carter's Wife." Also we've heard constantly how John Carter is a "damaged" war veteran (in fact Stanton himself told an interviewer at Disney's D23 Expo he hired Taylor Kitsch because Kitsch plays "broken" characters well). But a dead child also? How exactly does this add anything to the storyline, especially since by movie's end John Carter is in love and (if that has survived) married to Dejah Thoris?

I have two problems with this addition. First it completely changes the character of John Carter. In the novels we get the impression that John Carter has never found true love until he arrives on Barsoom and finds it with Dejah Thoris. For me that was always an appealing facet of the book and the character-someone who has never felt that emotion and how far he would go to save her. Adding a former wife and child changes that because instead of someone who has never felt love, he's mourning it's loss and it makes him less interesting as a character for me. The second issue is that it's a cliched idea. Recently I watched for the first time in 10 years Ridley Scott's Gladiator. And guess what that film's opening scenes have-a war veteran returning home to find his wife and child killed, which causes him to become broken until he's forced to fight for his life against people trying to kill him. Granted the storylines go off in their own directions-Maximus isn't interested in saving Rome as much as killing the man responsible for his loss-but it's virtually the same idea. And I'm sure it's even older than that. Now some fans have argued that this isn't outside of Burroughs' concept because he establishes in A Princess of Mars that John Carter is possibly immortal-he doesn't remember much of his life and has remained eternally the same age-but Stanton himself already told Empire magazine that the immortal aspect has been removed, leaving him a normal human being, so that defense doesn't apply here.

Ultimately what this brings up for me has been my major issue with this movie-an almost seesaw effect of having one thing that sounds or looks great and something that sounds or looks terrible or is a pointless change or addition. For everything good (Willem Dafoe's Tars Tarkas, the look of Woola, the released pieces of Michael Giacchino's score) it seems something just as bad shows up (tattoos, blue-eyed Matai Shang, silly devices) and now this. I don't know if it will affect the movie Stanton is making (or has seen in his head all those years he claims to have been a fan) but was this really that necessary to telling the story? I doubt it.


pohjanakka said...

The story should have worked just fine without the deceased family. If they wanted to deepen the characterization for JC by giving him some sort of troubled past why not go towards the lone wolf hero? Somebody who has perhaps been disillusioned by the war but is still willing to fight for money, just not for ideals, and then changes his mind once he falls in love with a woman whose people are in trouble. That would have stayed closer to the original, I think. And it would not have been any more of a stereotype than the man who has lost his family is.

And it could have kept the first love, true love idea.

John R. Music said...


are you honest to god bitching about Matai Shang . . . .A GODDAMNED THERN


did you read the fucking books? DID YOU EVEN LOOK AT THEM

Therns had blue eyes imbecile

MCR said...

I forgot to add the word "glowing" to that description. In none of the books are Therns described as having glowing blue eyes. Sorry for the confusion.

John R. Music said...

Dude . . . they arent fucking glowing in the trailer, the sclera is is blue and there is no discernable pupil . . . that isnt the same as glowing

What does it matter . . . it isnt even something that is usually brought up or necessary to the progression of the story

You will probably point out john carter ten seconds where he disguised himself as a Thern but those moments dont make much sesne in context of the books because John Carter still has eyebrows (black eyebrows for that matter) and grey eyes

You are nitpicking on something insignificant from the books that was emphasized in the movie to create good visuals

Howard C. Beam said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Howard C. Beam said...

Yes, and it would have been so much better if Peter Jackson had given Legolas the same blue contact lenses in the LOTR Movies, because Tolkien never explicitly described that the eyes of the elves were identical to humans...

/sarcasm off.

I think that "emphasizing" thing in the movies for "good" visuals is a slippery slope... Pretty soon it becomes ANDREW STANTON'S JOHN CARTER OF MARS instead of ERB's.

And quite frankly, I have read all 11 of the Barsoom novels (starting when I was 11 back in 1975), and loved them. I have been waiting to see ERB's Barsoom on the big screen since then.

I am a huge Tolkien and Burroughs fan. I re-read all of ERB's and Tolkien's works every couple of years or so.

Waiting for this movie has been the different from the LOTR movies. I was waiting for them since I was 12 or so also. And when I saw the trailers and promotional items for Peter Jackson's Films, I mostly had a feeling that "this feels right"...

(A few of the liberty's taken in that series bug me. But they were only noticed later. NOT during the initial viewing of the trailers/press releases...)

I am NOT getting the same feel for the JC movie. Some things are just jarringly "wrong" in the JC information, images and storyline that has been released.

Stanton may surprise me. But I am not going into this with the same "warm fuzzy" that I had going into LOTR:FOTR.

SP said...

Why oh why can film makers not stick to a script?
My father tried to introduce me to ERB from about 10, if not before. Finally having failed with Tarzan I picked up POM, much to his surprise and loved it. I've read the series several times over the last 1/4 century and discussed with my dad how it would be great to see it on the big screen with today's effects. Sadly I won't be able to keep my promise of taking him as it's nearly 4 years too late.

Like Howard we both saw LOTR (we did see the cartoon when it came out), and like Howard it felt right. Although I'm looking forward to seeing what then produce, I'm having more reservations as time goes by.

Why combine Gods with Princess? There's more than enough in each book to make a huge film.
Why the needless additions to the back story, isn't years of war enough to weary anyone?
Why drop the immortality of JC?
Tattoos? Give me them over changed story line any day.

I guess we'll see soon enough now. Has anyone noticed the timing of the release (in the UK)? The Friday after the Mars opposition...planned or coincidence?

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