Thursday, May 31, 2012

FilmFax 130: John Carter of Mars Tribute!

More Barsoomian magazine news. This time it's FilmFax magazine paying tribute to Edgar Rice Burroughs and his work. The magazine has two interviews, the first with artist William Stout, who talks about the influence ERB has had on his work and his involvement with previous attempts to film John Carter of Mars (several pieces of artwork from the Kerry Conran version accompany the interview) and the second is with Russ Cochran, who discusses Tarzan comic books. The cover art though is different from the pic I found and there is no article on the movie as promoted. Still a cool issue for ERB fans.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Carter Of Mars - Take Me Back To Barsoom Video

Another day, another cool fan video. This time courtesy of Youtube user RickSomachiAgain and linked to the Take Me Back to Barsoom project on Facebook so take a peek and enjoy!

Monday, May 28, 2012

John Carter Blu-Ray Reviews

With only a little over a week until its release on June 5, I thought I would link to some reviews of the John Carter Blu-Ray/DVD. The first one I have found comes from the site DVD File . The early word: On the audio visual side the disc is a winner while the reviewer was mixed on the extras noting that the much vaunted "Disney Second Screen" bonus won't be available until after the release date and that the commentary track with Andrew Stanton and the producers has a "melancholy" feel since they clearly love the film they made which makes it a stark comparison to the reception the film received. If anymore reviews pop up I'll update this post and if you find one leave a comment. UPDATE: A second review has shown up at Blu-Ray.Com and it has a similar verdict on the disc itself. Be warned though-the reviewer might tick off some as he dismisses Edgar Rice Burroughs as the Michael Bay of his era (WTF!!!) and doesn't care much for the film itself. Some nice caps from the disc though. UPDATE 2: Two more early reviews have popped up. The first one comes from Disney Tourist Blog and he gives the film and the disc glowing endorsements. The second one comes from the Home Theater Forum and he gives it a split vote-great looking disc and extras but only slight praise for the movie itself (the reviewer also suggests that James Purefoy would have been a better John Carter and after seeing Solomon Kane I have to agree!) MORE UPDATE: Two more reviews have appeared online. The first (courtesy of The John Carter Files) comes from High-Def Digest and the reviewer gives the film a second chance and joins the chorus of praise on the disc's audio/video. On the flip side is this review from DVD Talk as the reviewer found the film itself a missed opportunity.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #12

This week's comic book review finds possession, strange eating habits and skinny dipping (!) on Barsoom. Not that the Princess wears much anyway but still for those with delicate sensibilities you might want to skip out.

When last we left her, Dejah had been awaken to find herself under the spell of a Boora Witch in the Toonolian Marshes while Kantos Kan is about to become a lizard creature's dinner. Kantos survives to find Dejah, who has stumbled upon a reserve of the materials they were searching for. Unknown to Kantos and everyone else though Dejah has now been possessed by the witch. While Kantos begins to suspect something is not right, the witch makes her own plans-including a gruesome meal to restore her power, a midnight swim and attempted seduction of Kantos and a deal with Helium's arch nemesis Sab Than!

Coming after the previous two story lines in this series, writer Robert Napton is taking the series into more sword and sorcery territory here. The idea of a young woman being possessed by an evil witch is pretty much a staple of that genre (heck it was even used in the recent Conan the Barbarian film) and it definitely does seem an odd fit with Burroughs' world. In the novels Burroughs mostly avoided outright magic and witchcraft even though it has been used in previous comic books (I'm thinking in particular the short story arc from Marvel's John Carter Warlord of Mars series where a dark wizard raised an army of skeletons and attempted to possess John Carter's body and use Dejah's for his dead lover). Napton does his best though to keep the story moving, focusing best on developing Kantos Kan' s character and his rise in the Helium guard and his loyalty to the Princess. If anything I like that we get to see him in a bigger role than most of the recent John Carter/Warlord of Mars series he's been in. The setup is also interesting as we see Sab Than reenter the picture. It also has a strange line that seems to imply that he's now the ruler of Zodanga. What happened to Than Kosis? Is that being saved for a later comic book series?

Art wise again we get Carlos Rafael and anyone who has followed his work on the Warlord of Mars comics will either love it or not. I like his character designs (even though I know some who feel Dejah looks too revealing) even though some the backgrounds don't stick out as much as I would like. Still it's nice and pleasing work.

I don't have a clever ending here. If you liked the first issue of this arc you will probably enjoy this one. If not then I doubt it will change your mind. Until next time have a good day!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Star Wars Turns 35

Yes I know. It's a day long remembered.

At this point it's hard to really come up with anything new to say about the original film. It's been talked about, debated and dissected ever since it came out. It has a legion of fans who adore it, and just as many detractors (especially thanks to the prequels). It has the sort of mystique that few films ever achieve and I doubt many ever will.

For me Star Wars represents my childhood and the wonders it introduced still ring through my memory. Now to be honest I didn't see it in 1977 (I was only 1 year old) so I missed that original rush of excitement that it generated. In fact I was more familiar with the Kenner action figures (I know they have official names but to me they will remain Walrusman and Hammerhead) than the moive. I finally saw it-or at least have vague memories of it-on TV around the time Return of the Jedi was coming out. Years later thanks to video I again caught up with it. It was on the USA Network every holiday in a day long trilogy showing. Even though I had missed that original date it was always there, a comforting friend when I needed an escape.

Looking at it now-even with all the changes George Lucas keeps doing-it still holds up as a fun movie. And to me that's the word: FUN. It isn't heavy or weighed down with philosphical ideas like Kubrick's 2001. The plot is straightforward and simple (though not simple minded as some critics want to dismiss it as). The characters may seem lightweight but considering their hold on pop culture they clearly have more underneath than most characters do in film today.

Probably the interesting thing looking at it now is knowing how the story ultimately turned out. Back in 1977 I'm sure Darth Vader was just a cool looking villain. Now we know more about him and that does change our perspective about him. Still he does what every great villain does-he keeps an aura of threat about him and that even with the revelation about his true past in the later films a sense of control. He doesn't mess around and makes his point concise and to the point. Of course I still love Han Solo as the best character in the original film. Maybe it's just getting older I can relate to that cynical attitude or the fact that Harrison Ford got all the funny lines.

So I'll wrap it up with a final thought-the reason that Star Wars works is that is an escape. And sometimes we need that. May the Force Be With You.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

John Carter of Mars 1950s Trailer

OK the cool video of the day. Courtesy of Youtube user Krishashenoi93 is this 1950s inspired trailer for John Carter of Mars with audio from trailers for among other films The 7th Voyage of Sinbad and the 1939 Buck Rogers serial. Take a peek and enjoy! (Thanks to the John Carter Files for finding it!)

Mark Andrews Talks Brave and John Carter

Some early morning news for your Thursday. In this case Slashfilm sat down with Mark Andrews who directed Pixar's upcoming Brave to get his thoughts on that film Andrews also was the co-writer and second unit director on John Carter and he briefly talks about his reaction to the film's reception: "I’m still processing absolutely. I just read an article today where they said, “Hey, John Carter is making money!” It’s like “Yeah, it’s making money because it’s good! And it’s going to continue to make money. Why was there any doubt?” It was like we were assassinated, you know?"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

John Carter Clip-Father and Daughter (Russian)

I had posted this earlier but removed it. But here it is again-Dejah Thoris and Tardors Mors in one of the best scenes from the movie since it establishes their relationship. Yeah it's in Russian but what can you do? I'll keep an eye out for an English version and if anyone finds one let me know.

John Carter Is the Number 1 Pirated Movie

Well I'm sure that's a number Disney doesn't want. According to the site TorrentFreak which tracks the number of Bit Torrent downloads, John Carter was the number 1 most downloaded movie last week, topping The Avengers and other more successful films at the box office. I'm not advocating illegal downloading but at least it shows there are people who do want to see the film. You can read more about it at

Sunday, May 20, 2012

John Carter Clip: "I Was Late Once..."

I know I'm late with this but I was debating whether or not to post this since a. it was revealed to not be an official clip from Disney (thanks to John Carter Files for the update) and b. I always had mixed feelings about it. On the one hand it's a powerful action sequence and shows Woola's loyality and John's vowing to save Dejah but on the other hand it came across to me as being manipulative and tied into one of the things I disliked most about the movie. I guess I'm in the minority but here take a peek anyway.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Comic Review: John Carter-The Gods of Mars #3

This week's Barsoomian comic book review. That's all I got.

Here's the short version of it-John and company return from the Valley Dor, are greated by Kantos Kan, put on trial before Zat Arras but before sentence is passed discovers that Dejah Thoris is now in the hands of the First Born. Zat Arras uses it to remove John Carter from his path and as this issue ends John and Carthoris face a familiar monster...

I know I'm giving the plot short shrift but when you have two competing comic books telling the same story there isn't much to say about that, except how they are faring. In this case the comic follows the novel up to a point, even though some extra dialogue hints at a long standing feud between "House Thoris" as John calls it (I'm guessing it's next door to House Atredies) and Zat Arras, who attempted to invade Helium before. We also get more of Dejah on her quest as apparently she decided to go to the Valley searching for John. And yes she blitzes some First Born before being taken captive.

Outside of that the issue still has some plusses-namely the nice bright artwork by Ramon Perez. Some of it still needs work-the backgrounds don't pop much while the characters have a more cartoony look than say their Dynamite counterparts-it's still nice and eye catching. Even if Dejah has green lipstick on during Sola's flashback to Dejah's capture.

I'll give it a mixed to positive recommendation this time. If you loved the first two issues than this one is more of the same which is still a good thing. I just hope that if Marvel continues publishing their own versions that someone takes a break. I don't know if I want to review dueling versions of The Warlord of Mars as I have but at least we are getting a varied list of comics to review. Which considering the movie's performance is a good thing.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Movie Review: Solomon Kane

OK I finally saw it. The question is was it worth the wait? You bet your flaming demons it was!

Opening in 1600 North Africa, Solomon Kane (James Purefoy) is a blood thirsty soldier in the British army who is massacring a Spanish stronghold when he suddenly discovers a ton of riches-and a dark demon called the Devil's Reaper who has come to claim his soul. Barely escaping with his life, Kane renounces his ways and decides to become a man of peace at a monastery back in England. But when he is asked to leave Kane finds himself alone until he meets the Crowthorns, a family of Puritans who are planning to leave England for the New World. When the family is attacked by a strange masked man and his minions and the daughter, Meredith (Rachel Hurd-Wood) is carried off, Solomon decides he's ready to break his vow and willingly give his soul to the Devil to rescue Meredith. He soon discovers that she, along with several others, have been marked for death by a dark wizard named Malachi (Jason Fleyming) and it's up to Solomon to stop him and the forces of evil...a path that leads to his past and a possible redemption.

When I first heard about this movie, based on the Robert E. Howard character, I was interested. I had liked Howard's stories about the Puritan swordsman and was thought the movie looked good from the trailers that popped up. Then the movie just seemed to never show up here in the US while word seemed mixed-with some loving it, some hating it and some Howard fans annoyed with the fact that writer-director Michael J. Bassett had given the mysterious Kane a back story. So I tempered my expectations when I sat down to watch this film...and came out loving it.

From the very first scene-a violent action sequence filled with sword fighting, blood and one of the creepiest sequences I've seen in a long time-Solomon Kane had me hooked. Part of it is due to the actors. As Kane Purefoy manages to bring the character to life with a humanity while at the same time coming across as someone who has been to hell and back and is willing to go there again. He might seem a little stiff at the beginning but once he hits the road he carries the movie with strength. (It's also fun to compare this to his brief but humorous scene stealing turn as Kantos Kan in John Carter and see how versatile he is.) Purefoy also gets some good support from a varied cast, including Pete Posthelwaite (who sadly has since passed away) and Alice Krige as Meredith's parents, Mackenzie Crook (from the Pirates of the Caribbean movies) as a sinister priest, Fleyming as the devilish Malachi-even though he doesn't appear until the final scene he's a scene stealing sight; and acting legend Max Von Sydow as Kane's father.

The movie's other major plus factor is the look and feel of the film. Director Bassett doesn't go for the worn out quick cut Bourne editing that has made action movies headache inducing in recent years. He also creates some creepy set pieces that makes most horror films seem weak by comparison. One sequence where Solomon is pitted against cannibalistic humans is helped by stark lighting and the make-up. Another thing I liked about the film was the almost low-tech approach. There is CGI effects but a lot of it is done the old fashioned way with cool make-up effects and real blood-not the CGI splatter seen in recent movies like the new Conan the Barbarian. The cold desaturated look also helps set the down, capturing the mood effectively.

There is some minor things here and there that I didn't like. The finale is the standard hero fights the big monster ending while the revelation of (SPOILER ALERT!) of Malachi's masked right hand man is a little predictable. But otherwise I didn't see anything truly objectionable. Of course and to deal with this openly I know some Howard purists will balk at the plot and the decision to go this route. The recent Conan film did the same thing and as anyone knows me I've been pretty blunt in my criticisms of John Carter for the pointless back story added to that film, but in this case I felt that Bassett made it work. I guess it's just a personal thing that will depend on the viewer.

So to wrap up with praise and some ranting. The film is a winner and if you get the chance see it. The ranting: the fact that a film like this is still stuck in limbo while big budget junk gets multi-screen releases is just sad. If you don't believe that I'll say this: at least Solomon Kane isn't based on a board game. Rating: **** out of 4.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Tarzan 3D: More Casting News

It looks like the new motion capture flick is moving ahead with three new casting announcements courtesy of the Hollywood Reporter's Heatvision site Joining Kellan Lutz and Spencer Locke as Tarzan and Jane are actors Mark Deklin (of the recent TV series CGB) as Tarzan's father, who according to the Reporter "is exploring the site of a mysterious ancient meteorite and is on the brink of a discovery when he dies alongside his wife;" actress Jaime Ray Newman as his wife Alice and Trevor St. John as William Clayton, "the power-hungry CEO of Greystoke Energies."

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris & the White Apes #2

I thought I would go ahead and get this review posted. So are you ready for more blood thirsty creatures chasing scantly clad women? (Why does that sound like the plot for a Roger Corman movie?)

Having just seen their guards turned into white ape chow, Dejah and company do what any other sensible person would do-they run! Attempting to find a place to hide until help arrives Dejah tries to keep the group together but their numbers begin to dwindle as the apes crash through, leading to a chase through the abandoned castle they've found until Dejah finds herself suddenly facing a possible death herself...

A friend who picked up this issue said he disliked the bland backgrounds and the relative lack of dialogue in this issue. I have to disagree at least where the dialogue is concerned. The lack of it actually increases the suspense as Dejah and company try to survive without any defenses or help. Writer Mark Rahner wisely keeps the story focused, portraying the apes as savage, brutal killing machines while showing the hopeless situation the characters have fallen into but their determination to survive. I don't know about anyone else but it has me hooked.

As for the bland backgrounds, well I do agree they don't pop as much. I get the feeling artist Lui Antonio was busy making sure Dejah, her friends and the apes stand out and they do-for a variety of reasons. The Great White Apes come across a little less vividly than I would like but once they start their bloody work they still manage to look beastly and effective. Dejah and company are handled well, even though to paraphrase Michael Palin from Monty Python and the Holy Grail, they do have huge tracts of land. I can understand why some feel portraying Dejah this way can be distracting but I guess as long as her character is there I can overlook it. Besides it fits in with the horror movie feel this series seems to be aiming for.

In fact I would say horror fans who enjoy watching or reading about relentless monsters chasing their victims will probably enjoy this series the most. While it may not equal the best of those films or stories (or Burroughs for that matter) it is still turning into a fun attempt to combine both.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Comic Review: Lord of the Jungle #4

I know I've fallen behind on some promised posts but work and other things popped up. I'll try to get them up next week but for now we'll tackle this weeks new comics, starting with the latest starring every one's favorite ape man.

When last seen Tarzan was packing off Jane into the jungle after rescuing her from Terkoz the ape. As this issue opens a French ship lead by Lt. Paul D'Arnot has found the floating vessel of the Porter expedition and heads for land. There he finds a wounded Esmeralda who tells him of Jane's abduction. Leading his men, D'Arnot find Professor Porter and Cecil Clayton and the group head off. Meanwhile Jane is getting to know her rescuer a little better, discovering his ability to write and that he is the mysterious Tarzan that has been helping the small stranded group. She also finds a small locket around his neck. But when Jane decides to go back, her and Tarzan hear gunfire and Tarzan wanders off to investigate. And if that isn't enough D'Arnot and his men get ambushed by club wielding ape man creatures; D'Arnot gets taken captive and Cecil vows to destroy them-and Tarzan!

I pointed out earlier in review of issue 3 that I missed the second issue of Lord of the Jungle, which might explain why I'm confused why there is ape man creatures suddenly in the jungle? And sporting arm bracelets and loincloths? I admit it's been a while since I read the original Tarzan of the Apes novel but I don't remember them, even though they don't seem that out of place in Burroughs' fantasy version of Africa. Besides that the issue is a toss up with some weird back and forth plotting. The opening has a rather grisly discovery of cannibalism-which really comes through in Roberto Castro's artwork for it-and then we suddenly get Tarzan acting goofy while wooing Jane that brings to mind the Disney Tarzan. Still writer Arvid Nelson brings a good balance to keeping Burroughs' work and updating it, even though I'm sure some fans might have issues with some of the changes made.

With the artwork as I mentioned above it flips between grisly (the cannibalism remains looks like something of The Walking Dead) and brightly colored scenes (the scenes between Tarzan and Jane). Castro does a good job with it, even though the backgrounds are bland and don't really pop as much as they should. Still it is a good job and at least keeps the story moving through the images.

So is it worth picking up? If you liked the series so far I would say yes. While it may not be the definitive Tarzan comic book series readers coming to this without much knowledge of the original should enjoy it. And those who only know Tarzan from Disney might be surprised how serious the story is. I'll be back tomorrow with more apes and babes in need of rescuing.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

John Carter Blu-Ray Extras Revealed

I guess this got lost in the middle of Avengers mania and giving John Carter a big hand. The site Bleeding Cool has listed a breakdown of the bonus features along with length of each bonus Here's the run down of those extras, including each individual deleted scene:









00:01:50:19 NED AT COLLEGE

00:01:00:01 LUCKY SOB



00:00:47:14 CAMPFIRE

00:03:25:18 THOAT RIDE

00:01:16:08 DEJAH’S ANSWER

00:01:03:13 MATAI’S WALK



Monday, May 7, 2012

John Carter Rises

By 1,223.8! According to Box Office Mojo, John Carter this weekend sakked his way up from number 34 to 12 on the charts, bringing in $1.5 million at the box office While they may not seem like a lot, the film was the only film on there that rose in the top 20, not to mention at a huge number. The reason? The film has hit the discount theaters and curious audiences, possibly intrigued by the constant press about it's failure may have come out. John and Dejah Thoris may have also received some help from The Avengers, as that film's huge box office may have led to spill-over. I also noticed in my hometown and some neighboring towns that the local drive-ins (yep they still exist) was showing Avengers as the first run film and John Carter as the second feature. We'll wait and see but it may give some renewed hope for fans hoping for that sequel. (Thanks to the John Carter Files for the heads up.) UPDATE: Well it looks like Cap and company did help. The Hollywood Reporter has a new article confirming that John Carter was paired on 150 drive-in screens with The Avengers which helped push the box office up.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Dejah Thoris Pic of the Day

OK why wasn't this used on a poster? Still finding the occasional magazine article on John Carter I picked up the March/April issue of Make-Up Artist magazine and I stumbled upon this pic, which might be the sexiest image I've seen of Lynn Collins as the incomparable Princess (sorry about the type as this was on the index page. If anyone has seen this without the type let me know). I'll let you guys take a look and enjoy the rest of the day off. (I'll pick up again either tomorrow or Tuesday with the continuation of "The Barsoom Saga Revisited" series and even share my thoughts on the upcoming Tarzan 3D. Until then.)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Kellan Lutz and Spencer Locke Cast in Tarzan 3D

I decided to update the original post. According to the Hollywood Reporter's HeatVision Blog, actor Kellan Lutz (best known for the Twilight franchise and the recent Immortals) and actress Spencer Locke (from the Resident Evil series) have been cast to play Tarzan and Jane via motion capture for the upcoming CGI Tarzan 3D project . The site also reveals the plot: "Tarzan’s parents, billionaire adventurers, are now killed in airplane crash rather than being marooned with their child. And the movie’s villain is the CEO of Greystoke Energies, a man who took over the company from Tarzan’s deceased parents.
In the script, Jane is the daughter of an African guide and is committed to the conservation and preservation of the African jungle. She eventually works with Tarzan to defeat the mercenary army of Greystoke Energies." No word yet on a release date so keep an eye here for more information.

John Carter Blu-Ray Trailer

Yep. To help promote the upcoming Disney Blu-Ray release here's a trailer for the disc (though not in the best quality.)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Edgar Rice Burroughs on Writing

I thought this might be of interest to some of you. The John Carter Files has posted a 1930 article written by Edgar Rice Burroughs for Writer's Digest called "Entertainment is Fiction's Purpose" where he talks about his writing, all with a welcome sense of humor. Take a peek at

The Barsoom Saga Revisited Part II

Picking up where I left off, let's take a look at the adventures of John Carter and Dejah Thoris' children as I continue revisiting Edgar Rice Burroughs' series.

My original thoughts on Thuvia, Maid of Mars was that it was a good book but not great. Stuck between the opening trilogy and the later, much stronger books Thuvia sort of has an unfair place in the series. It lacked the originality of A Princess of Mars or the action packed brilliance of The Gods of Mars. It also failed to capture the unique characters that populated The Master Mind of Mars or A Fighting Man of Mars. So when I started rereading it I was determined to give it a chance and judge it on it's own merits. Surprisingly it improved with that approach. My major issue with it has always been Carthoris and how, well bland a hero he is. Here not comparing him to his famous father he comes across as a more balanced hero, one who can handle a sword with ease but also shows some smarts, particularly with his creation of the "controlling destination compass." The book's major points still come through-an alluring heroine in the form of Thuvia and her ability to control the savage banth, the Phantom Bowmen of Lothar-which is still one of Burroughs' greatest inventions-and the fast paced action sequences. So while it may fall short of some of the other books, Thuvia is still a fun read.

Following Thuvia though is one of my favorites in the series-The Chessmen of Mars. This time it's interesting to see how my opinions of it didn't change. I still think it's a strong entry, stuffed with original characters and a pulpy feel that few writers could equal. It's also interesting in looking at it and see that Burroughs was a more talented author then some people give him credit for. While praised for creating unique worlds, he gets criticized for "flat characters." Here we see his characters grow as their adventure unfolds. Tara of Helium starts out as a spoiled princess, used to getting her way but by the novel's end she has grown into a woman who can handle herself and even falls for someone she knows she can't be with (which of course in ERB tradition she can be with since he's Gahan of Gathol in disguise). The character of Ghek also changes from the intellect filled Kaldane into something more "human" through his interaction with Tara and Gahan. He comes to care for them and is willing to help them. Of course this doesn't distract from the action scenes-from the fight and escape from Bantoom to the live spectacle of Jetan-which cries out for a big screen treatment-Burroughs keeps it all moving. And honestly I love the end where after all of her adventures the one person Tara is really happy to see is her father. How sweet is that?

So the ratings then: Thuvia, Maid of Mars ***1/2; The Chessmen of Mars **** Next time we get brain transplants, "The Death" and a Trip to the Moon of Mars.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Taylor Kitsch Still Defending John Carter

As the fall out of the movie is starting to some what wane, the film's star is still defending the film. In this case in a brief interview with MTV at the recent CinemaCon event in Las Vegas-where he was picking up the "Male Star of Tomorrow" award-Taylor Kitsch talked about the disappointing reception of John Carter and how he's still proud if of it: ""My heart was in that film and I'm very proud. I'm standing by it." You can watch a video of the interview below:

Dejah Thoris Sideshow Statue Revealed

Some Barsoom news from San Diego Comic-Con for you guys. Sideshow Collectibles has released first images of a Dejah Thoris statue for fan...