Friday, March 30, 2012

John Carter Blu-Ray Specs


Following up the French site, the US version of Amazon now has posted what I hope is temporary cover art (it looks like a horrible Photoshop job) and a listing of bonus features for the DVD, Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack and a Four-Disc Combo Pack (with standard and 3D Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital Copy) versions of John Carter. Among the bonus features listed are:


-Disney Second Screen·

-360 Degrees of John Carter·

-Deleted Scenes with Option Commentary by Director Andrew Stanton·

-Barsoom Bloopers·

-100 Years in the Making·

-Audio Commentary with Film Makers.


Amazon is taking pre-orders but there is still no official release date. You can see for yourself at http://www.amazon.com/John-Carter-Taylor-Kitsch/dp/B005LAIH2W/dp/B007MDB71O

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

John Carter: A Love Story


More video fun! In this case a fan trailer that actually plays up the one thing missing from Disney's marketing-the romance of John Carter and Dejah Thoris. Take a peek and let us know what you think.


John Carter Vinylmation Figures


OK for those who wondered where the toys were, well this is it. Four Vinylmation figures will be released at Disney's Theme Parks sometime later this year and you can take a peek at the four figures-John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Tars Tarkas and a Great White Ape-at http://destinationvinylmation.blogspot.com/2012/03/john-carter-explained.html. You can also check out this video below showing the making of the figures.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taylor Kitsch Defends "John Carter"


Again a little late but that's the way it happens. Entertainment Weekly caught up with star Taylor Kitsch before he left for the PR tour for Battleship where he briefly talked about John Carter and it's disappointing box office. But as the article states he still stands behind the film despite the bad mouthing: “I’m very proud of John Carter. Box office doesn’t validate me as a person, or as an actor.” You can read the rest at http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/03/25/taylor-kitsch-on-john-carter-box-office/. Also check out this featurette about the actor and his trip to Barsoom:

Sunday, March 25, 2012

John Carter Blu-Ray News




OK I'll preface this with the "take with a grain of salt" warning. With that said the French version of Amazon is now taking pre-orders for the Blu-Ray release of John Carter, with a release date of what appears to be July 7 (if my memories of high school French class is accurate) so if that is legitimate viewers Stateside and other countries should see it hitting store shelves around the same time. You can decide for yourself at http://www.amazon.fr/John-Carter-Blu-ray-Taylor-Kitsch/dp/B0078YB2NA/ref=pd_rhf_gw_p_img_2 A brief update: I also found different cover art for the 3D Blu-Ray release, also set for the same day.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Comic Review: John Carter-The Gods of Mars #1


We'll close up this week with another Barsoomian comic review as Marvel unleashes their second mini-series adaptation.

Again I'm going to think most of you know the plot line of The Gods of Mars-or at least have been following Dynamite's version in their Warlord of Mars series (or at least my reviews of those) so I'll skip going over the plot. Instead I'll cover the basics of this issue: John Carter suddenly wakes up on Barsoom and finds himself set upon by Plant Men. Lucky for him Tars Tarkas rescues him and before we know it John and old "Greenskin" (as he now calls Tars) are captured by great white ape riding Therns, escape during the First Born assault and John learns that Dejah Thoris is missing. Oh yeah our hero's first reaction to returning to Barsoom? He goes "Yee Haw!"

I sort of figured after Marvel's take on A Princess of Mars not to expect much from this series. And well I was half right. First the good news: the artwork is vastly superior. Drawn by Ramon Perez, the art has a nice cartoony style to it that isn't too off putting, especially compared to the art done for Princess. Tars Tarkas is better looking-and resembles the movie version; Thuvia and Phaidor are nicely drawn and the backgrounds are full and vibrant. If anything this issue might be worth picking up just for Perez's work.

On the downside unfortunately is the writing. Not that writer Sam Humphries does a bad job, it's just that like Princess it is written for a younger set, so we get "yee haw" John Carter, old Greenskin (didn't Stan Lee call the Hulk that?) and some juvenile laughs-like John saying "so long suckers!" to the Plant Men. I guess it's OK for the target audience and that's all it needs to be but I did wince a few times. And what's with this thing of having John Carter needing rescuing? So far he was a bumbling swordsman in the movie and now Tars Tarkas saves him from the Plant Men? Who decided he needed to be the major klutz of two worlds suddenly?

So the long and short of it is this: So far so OK. It won't win any awards but I don't think it will turn off new fans, especially those discovering John Carter thanks to the movie. But old time fans might want to give it a thumb through before purchase. If anything the artwork is worth the price but next time leave out the yee-hawing.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Book Review: Jane Carver of Waar


As usual with my reviews I can't come up with a snappy opening. So we'll jump into this new tale of good vs. evil, warriors and fair maidens and a hot chick with a big sword...

Jane Carver is a former Airbone Ranger who has some problems-she just killed a guy by accident after he decided to play a game of "grab ass" and she wasn't in the mood. While alluding the police she hides in a cave only to see a green glowing light. But in this case heading towards the light leads to a different outcome-she passes out and wakes up-starkers of course-on the planet Waar, a strange alien planet where she also discovers new found abilities-like super strength and jumping skills. She also discovers she's not alone. When she saves a purple humanoid named Sai-Far, she agrees to help him rescue his betrothed Wen-Jhai from a warrior named Kedac-Zir in exchange for helping her get home. And along the way the pair come face to face with a race of cat like creatures called the Aarurrh, a group of pirates and their horny female leader, gladiatorial combat, Sai's friend Lhan-who has his own secrets-and a plot to conquer the kingdom of Wen-Jhai's father. And it's up to Jane Carver to save the day!

When I first saw a mention of this on a web site my thought was "Cool, a homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs." Well it's both an homage and as the back of the book states "a scathing parody" as well. And it's more the latter than the former. I'll start with the homage part-it's clear writer Nathan Long must have read ERB since the book's setup is pretty similar: Long appears as himself, relating the tale of Jane he receives via old audio cassettes-a clever updating of John Carter's manuscript. Jane also develops super powers once on Waar, finds warriors who follow a strict code and has to stop a wedding-all things fans of the Barsoom books will know by heart. Plus there are flying creatures called the skelshas similar to the Malagores from Synthetic Men of Mars and the standard air ships.

But like I said it's also a parody-and in some cases a very adult one. Yep Jane arrives nude on Waar, curses like Richard Pryor and finds herself surrounded by a bunch of sexist aliens. In one chapter Sai reveals that it's OK for the men to fool around but the women have to remain pure-talk about a double standard. Long also pokes fun at the male warriors. Sai-Fer is actually a weak swordsman who at one point gets dolled up by a young female Aarurrh that Jane nicknames Kitten, and then seems to prove his man hood by both taking on the more skilled Kedac-Zir and becoming the female pirate captain's boy toy during their imprisonment in an attempt to prevent any harsh treatment for Jane and Wen-Jhai. Well at least he's doing it for the people he cares about. Also Wen-Jhai proves not to be the "pure" character Sai makes her out to be and-well let's just say it's more Flesh Gordon than Flash there. Kedac-Zir is also a parody of the standard villain-a huge bad guy who-thanks to a part of the warrior's code-manages to get Wen-Jhai to agree to marry him since Sai keeps blowing it. In fact one of the more humorous scenes has Kedac "rescue" Wen-Jhai by swinging into a room like Errol Flynn while Jane and company stand by unable to comprehend how their attempt to rescue Wen suddenly got upstaged.

I have to admit this collision of tones-serious one minute, comedic the next-was a little jarring but once I got into it the book was a fun, enjoyable read. By the end I was rooting for Jane Carver to come out on top and she emerges as a fun, likable character who keeps the reader interested. So if your adventurous and are looking for something different then give Jane Carver of Waar a try. But trust me, keep this away from the kids.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Gods of Mars Sneak Peek






With the first issue hitting today, Marvel has released some artwork from their adaptation of The Gods of Mars written by Sam Humphries and artwork by Ramon Perez. So take a look and let us know what you think. So far it looks a lot better than Marvel's A Princess of Mars comics.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

What The Future Will Bring...



As I'm sure some of you have read Disney has now officially given up on John Carter (if you haven't go here http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/19/john-carter-bombs-disney-lose-200-million_n_1365659.html). At this point there are more better writers out there than me that will be dissecting the film and its poor showing at the box office. The reason I'm writing is to talk briefly about where this blog will be heading in the future.

When I started back in 2009, originally it was just going to be a chronicle of my rediscovery of the world of Barsoom and the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs that I had fallen in love with as a geeky 13 year old when I was given A Princess of Mars. Of course at the time the movie seemed to be a sure bet and indeed most of this blog has been given over to coverage of the film. But now that the film is a done deal-and unless it suddenly turns around or becomes the biggest selling DVD or Blu-Ray ever I doubt a sequel will be going-I have to decide where to go. So here's the deal: for the future I guess I'll be going back to the past a bit, which means reviewing books, comics and the occasional bit of movie news that sparks my interest. And even with the disappointing treatement Disney has given John Carter there is still much to look forward to: new books inspired by ERB like the upcoming Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan and the possible Skies of Venus; the continuing comic book adventures of John Carter, Dejah Thoris and company fron Dynamite Comics and Marvel-which will be releasing the first issue of their adaptation of The Gods of Mars this week; not to mention a slew of movies and TV shows-from Game of Thrones to The Avengers to The Hobbit-that I'll mention on and off.

So to paraphrase the immortal words of John Carter "This Blog Still Lives!" As long as you guys are interested I'll be here.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan Cover Art


Some of you might remember a few weeks back I posted on some upcoming Edgar Rice Burroughs-inspired books that were in the works. Well Barnes and Noble has posted up the cover artwork for author Robin Maxwell's take on Jane and her Ape-Man and you can check it out above. The book is set for release Sept. 18, 2012 according to http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/jane-robin-maxwell/1108086244.

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars Annual #1


Still catching up with reviews. This time Tars Tarkas takes center stage for this giant size annual.

After a friendly sparing match, Tars and John Carter sit down to enjoy a drink when John notes the strange cups Tars is using which leads the Thark to relate the tale of how he got them. Flashing back to mere days before he met John at the Thark incubator, Tars is leading a group of Tharks when he finds an incubator destroyed. Fearing the worse, the group rides on and discovers another, leading a Thark named Hok to blame the Zodangans. However after finding a small band of Zodangans led by Zat Arras, Tars begins to suspect someone else is causing the destruction...someone making a play for his title and his head.

Written by Mark Rahner, this annual-called "Shell Shock" is a pretty good stand alone story centering on Tars Tarkas and the Thark code. Set prior the events of A Princess of Mars it shows us the Tharks' bloody and savage side but also presents Tars' increasing dissatisfaction with the Thark way of life. Admittedly there isn't much I can reveal without giving away most of the plot or the big reveal (even though given how long this annual has been available I'm sure most of you have already read it) it's still a well written story so give it a try.

I also have to give high praise for the artwork, here done by Stephen Sandowski-who has been my favorite interior artist on the major Warlord of Mars series. Here he captures the characters well-even the bulky Tharks-and draws the major action scenes-from a bloody panel showing Tars Tarkas at his pre-Carter savage best to the final confrontation-with a sure hand. He's also helped with some vibrant color courtesy of colorist Adriano Lucas that helps bring the story to life.

So if you missed this annual pick it up. If you've enjoyed most of Dynamite's other Warlord of Mars comics this one will be right up your alley.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

John Carter Makes SciFi Now Cover


A little late I admit but I just found it at the local Barnes and Noble. While the box office continues to provide drama for fans (I'll direct you to the fine folks at the John Carter Files site for this weekend's BO performance http://thejohncarterfiles.com/2012/03/john-carter-has-strong-opening-in-china-weak-weekend-in-the-us-global-total-now-179m/) I've been rounding up some John Carter related stuff and in this case the first-and to date only-cover story about the film courtesy of issue 64 of the British magazine SciFi Now. It has a two page interview with Andrew Stanton which depending on your view of the movie will confirm his genius or convince you he should have made WALL-E 2 instead, a brief sidebar chat with Taylor Kitsch and a cool two page "Journey to Mars" article looking at John Carter's long 100 year trip from the pages of All-Story magazine to the big screen. You can get some more info about the issue at http://www.scifinow.co.uk/magazine-issues/scifinow-issue-64-is-on-sale-thursday/attachment/scifinow-john-carter-game-of-thrones/ (and for you Game of Thrones fans-yep there's an article about it too!)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #16


While the film sequel seems up in the air, we continue with Dynamite's adaptation of The Gods of Mars...

As this issue opens John Carter has just met his son Carthoris and the two stage an escape from the arena of the First Born. While they make their effort, the "goddess" Issus escapes and leaves the two to die under Omean but Carthoris knows the way out and after retrieving Xodar they escape the hell of the Valley Dor. On route the find Tars Tarkas-who has become separated from the maid Thuvia-and are picked up the Xavarian, the flagship of Helium and its captain-old pal Kantos Kan. Unfortunately Dejah Thoris has disappeared and is feared to be heading to the valley but before John can rescue her Xat Arras-now the acting Jed of Helium-orders them taken prisoner-and to be executed!

Moving pretty quickly, this issue runs through a lot of the plot. While there is some changes-and a bizarre comedy turn by Tars Tarkas that raises some questions about Thuvia (let's just say she talks in her sleep)-Arvid Nelson remains true to Burroughs' story-and after the movie's John "I don't care about your war-just my cave of gold" Carter-that's a welcome relief.

Again the same thoughts on the artwork by Carlos Salazar-it's growing on me, even if seeing Tars imitate Thuvia is quite funny. Still he captures the action-which there is quite a bit of-well and manages to keep the art work lively and interesting.

So once again another excellent issue. I'll be back with a few more reviews during the week so I'll see you next time folks.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Take Me Back To Barsoom!


Is the name of a new Facebook group that has been started by a group of fans to petition Disney and get the sequel off the ground. You can take a look at The John Carter Files http://thejohncarterfiles.com/2012/03/10-things-john-carter-fans-can-do-right-now-to-help-the-movie/ to find out more information. (Sorry for the lateness of this. Was out of town yesterday).

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

John Carter: More Woola Clip


I guess Disney isn't ready to throw in the towel yet. In this case they've released a new clip called "Woola Will Follow You Anywhere" that shows his rescue of John Carter from Zodanga. So enjoy everyone's favorite scene stealing Calot.


John Carter: More Defense and Box Office News


Some more news so I'll cut to it. First The John Carter Files is reporting that John Carter actually saw a brief rise at the Tuesday box office from Monday and has some comparisons to other movies here http://thejohncarterfiles.com/2012/03/john-carter-box-office-watch-is-unexpected-mon-tue-uptick-a-sign-of-strength/. Possibly that word of mouth is helping which is some good news.

Also another defense has shown up online, this time from "Mr. Beaks" at Aint It Cool News who talks about the press-and how some like the New York Times actually got their reporting wrong and how instead of ripping apart John Carter and Andrew Stanton we should save our vitriol for those who deserve it. And I agree-yes complain about John Carter, that's great. But save your hatred for those who truly deserve it. You can read his thoughts at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/54267

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

In Defense of John Carter


Or How I Learned to stop believing critics and naysayers and loved the movie (even with the shape shifting silliness).

Well at this point it's clear who John Carter is now. According to the box office experts, critics and the Internet he's a bomb. A flop. A critical disaster. An example of directorial ego run rampant and a studio with clueless marketing skills. He's not the Warlord of Mars in their eyes-he's a failed hero who got his butt kicked by a Danny DeVito-voiced Dr. Seuss character. How tough can he really be?

Of course with all of this going on the knives are out, looking for someone to blame, with many throwing director Andrew Stanton under the proverbial bus. The most damaging is a New York Times article http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/12/business/media/ishtar-lands-on-mars.html?_r=4&;amp;adxnnl=1&hpw=&pagewanted=2&adxnnlx=1331558306-auHYn+T6KW+Fxyutg0fIRg that reports that Stanton wielded his Pixar power to not only get the rights to Edgar Rice Burroughs' books but he used it to cast who ever he wanted, reshot the movie twice and reworked it until it fit his goal-all the while ignoring advice from those with live action movie experience-and even was responsible for the middling marketing campaign, insisting on the use of Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" in the second trailer despite worries that it would make the film seem out of date to viewers (another piece on the site Vulture http://www.vulture.com/2012/03/john-carter-doomed-by-first-trailer.html also has a similiar story concering the first trailer-in this case Stanton had failed to film the needed "WOW" moments needed for the marketing team, insisted on Peter Gabriel's dour cover of Arcade Fire's "My Body is a Cage" and even drove marketing chief MT Carney to tears). Speculation about the careers of those invovled has also become a new national past time, especially star Taylor Kitsch's with sites like Vulture and Entertainment Weekly asking if this could damage his leading man status (the early word-possibly no since he wasn't the main selling point in the marketing, nor is he getting the blame for it's performance).

What is lost in this rush to pan or crucify is some interesting little nuggets. Like the fact that the film had a bump in attendance on Saturday in the US, indicating positive word of mouth. That the film has a B+ approval rating from the group Cinema Score, also showing audiences enjoyed the film and were telling friends. That the film grossed an additional 70 million overseas-and was the number one film in both Great Britian and Russia (where it had the fourth biggest opening day in the country's history). All of that is lost-not unlike tears in rain-on the naysayers and prophets of doom who for months have been calling this a potential bomb. And why is that? Is it some sort of prejudice against Disney? Is it the standard practice of building up our idols-in this case Stanton-and knocking them down with equal glee? Was it the budget? Who knows. I doubt even they could really tell you.

Now I've admitted my problems with the film and its treatement as a Burroughs fan but I also felt that as a movie it was not the worst film ever made. It was an entertaining film, made by someone who was enjoying the experience-not some cynical Michael Bay whose main goal seems to be to aim at the lowest common dominator and insult the audience's intelligence. Granted some of the critics' complaints I did understand-and the film was not perfect. But comparing it to such bombs like Heaven's Gate, Ishtar or Battlefield Earth-films that were just dreadful-is pretty unfair. Those films failed because they were awful movies. John Carter isn't. Now I'm not defending Andrew Stanton-and if those articles are true they don't paint a flattering portrait but you know what? I don't know the man and I wasn't there so I can't say if it's true or not. I'll give him a benefit of the doubt and wait and hear his side of the story first before saying he was out of control or not.

Also let's consider for a moment. As some have pointed out at this point a film's box office performance is no longer just confined to the US alone. International ticket sales have become big business-and John Carter has yet to open in China and Japan, two huge markets-so it could still recoup its investment and turn a profit. But how much seems to be the issue. At this point unless there is a major upswing at the box office I will concede it will be hard for John Carter to make the needed amount to convince Disney to go forward with Stanton's sequel plans. And let's not beat around the bush here-Disney isn't known for making sequels to films that don't make a certain amount of money. Despite a respectable box office worldwide-and the desires of star Jake Gyllenhaal-there is no Prince of Persia sequel in the offing. The studio dumped their interest in the Chronicles of Narnia series after Prince Caspian failed-a failure that Disney head Robert Iger accepted responsibility for due to it's bad release date. And while they've reportedly hired writers, they've been dragging their feet on greenlighting a third TRON movie-with only a recent 2014 release date being announced. So I will admit that any hopes of Stanton tackling The Gods of Mars probably did evaporate this past weekend.

That said I still feel this movie has gotten an unfair bum rap. It's not the complete disaster it's being made out to be. The naysayers are just ignoring what they need to tell their story-not the entire complete truth. So if you haven't go see it and decide for yourself. Also and to end this with a positive note for ERB fans-a recent post on Entertainment Weekly's site talked about Stanton's decision to add the needless back story of a dead wife and child to the story http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/03/12/john-carter-origin-story/. The writer of this piece-and some others I have read-said they preferred Burroughs' idea of not giving the character of John Carter a history. In fact with all of the negative press, I've seen quite a few pieces giving Burroughs credit for his imagination and how good his work is. So how's that-while the film is getting beat up, Edgar Rice Burroughs is getting praised. At least something good did come out of this then.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Jane Porter and Carson of Venus Return


Well while we wait for everyone to finish writing their opinions/defenses/eulogies for John Carter and the people behind the film (some of which I think is a little premature) it looks like the Edgar Rice Burroughs estate has some other plans for the future. While snooping around I came across two new books-all estate approved-that are in the works. The first out will be Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan by historical romance writer Robin Maxwell and is currently listed on Amazon for a September 2012 release date. Maxwell talked a little bit about the book and her comments can be read at http://www.tarzan.com/meets/ (just scroll down a little to find them).

The other book I have little information about: I noticed on the Wikipedia page for the Venus series a sentence that the Burroughs estate had hired a writer named Neal Romanek to pen a new adveture of Carson and company called Skies of Venus. What little I could find was Romanek's Twitter page which indeed does mention that he is working on the novel. Currently there is no release date set so I'll keep an eye out for any future news. You can read more at Romanek's page at http://twitter.com/#!/rabbitandcrow.

Artwork above by Joe Jusko-just want to give credit since I liked both pieces.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

John Carter Early Box Office Report


I'll just lay it out and let you decide. According to early estimates from the site Box Office Mojo John Carter brought in 30.6 million for the three day weekend, placing it second behind last week's number one film, Dr. Seuss' The Lorax http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=johncarterofmars.htm. But there was some positive news though. First the film actually improved its take on Saturday making 12.3 million, up from the Friday gross of 9.8 million, indicating that word of mouth has helped and was confirmed by a B+ rating from the group CinemaScore that measures audience approval ratings (by contrast the competing horror flick Silent House scored a rare F rating). Also Box Office Mojo is reporting that internationally John Carter brought in 70.6 million, giving the film a global total of 101 million (rounded off). While it's still too early to say, Disney might still make their money back, but whether or not they green light a sequel we'll have to wait and see.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Movie Review: John Carter


Well here it is. The movie I've been waiting for since I was a geeky 13 year old, dreaming of going to Barsoom. And how was it? Well read below and I'll try to tell you. If you want to skip the next paragraph-where I will attempt to summarize the plot-and skip to my thoughts go ahead.

OK the plot: After a brief opening narration-where we're informed that our notion of the planet Mars is wrong-we arrive in the middle of a decisive battle between two warring races-the Heliumites and the Zodangans-and it looks like the Heliumites are about to win and defeat the evil Sab Than (Dominic West). But he is saved at the last minute by three floating bald dudes-sorry the omnipotent Therns and their leader Matai Shang (Mark Strong)-who give him some device that attaches to his wrist and shoots blue lightening that can destroy anything in it's path. Back on Earth we finally meet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), an eccentric adventurer who sends for his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara). But when Edgar arrives, he is told his uncle has died under mysterious circumstances and has left him his estate-including a journal that tell his wild tale. While out prospecting for gold in the Arizona hills shortly after the end of the Civil War, John finds a cave of gold. But he has other problems-an Union general (Bryan Cranston) who wants him to fight against the Apaches. But after escaping the Union guys and the Apaches, John suddenly sees the light-a cave with a bald guy who attempts to kill him. When John grabs an amulet and repeats the man's dying words he suddenly passes out-only to awaken somewhere else. And before he knows it he can bounce around and is found by a group of four-armed creatures. He eventually meets their leader-Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the rest of the tribe known as Tharks. While John gets used to these guys, girls-especially the friendly Sola (Samantha Morton) and a big old calot named Woola, Helium Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) has finally found the source of the "9th ray" which seems to be the same power source the Zodangans are using. Unfortunately a Thern in disguise destroys her test and her father reveals something else-he's promised her to Sab Than in matrimony to bring peace. Well not taking that lying down Dejah flees only to be pursued by Sab and his ships, until they arrive in Thark country where John takes action to save her. Believing that possibly his abilities could save her people Dejah attempts to get him to Helium but John just wants to go home, especially after he learns he's on Mars. And it's a long journey down the river Iss, through a motorized Zodanga and a lot of great white apes before he decides to help. And you can figure out the rest-a big battle and the biggest wedding crash since Flash Gordon impaled the groom.

Sorry for the last line. My sense of humor got in the way.

So after waiting 23 years-and I'm sure a lot longer for most of you-John Carter of Mars finally jumped to the big screen. I guess to start with as anyone who has followed this blog knows I've been skeptical of this film almost from day one. The track record of movies based on Burroughs' work. The fact that Disney was making it. Not being a fan of director Andrew Stanton or some of his casting choices or decisions. So when I went in I wasn't pitching my expectations too high. And when I came out I was of two minds-as a regular movie goer and as an ERB fan.

In the case of the former well the movie delivers big time, but with some major hitches. First the good stuff-Lynn Collins. Yes I know. I was really skeptical about her since having to endure her performance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Throw in early word of Dejah being a warrior princess and I was ready to give up. Well surprise she turns out to give the best performance of the film. She captures the girlish quality that Burroughs wrote about in A Princess of Mars, along with the haughy quality as well-in particular her doubts about John's story how he got to Barsoom. She also was quite gorgeous in the film-even with the tattoos-and showed a feistyness that I loved. In fact I almost wished they had just made a Dejah Thoris movie.

I also loved the performances of Dafoe and Morton as Tars Tarkas and Sola respectively. They brought humor to the roles while maintaining their dignity (even though I didn't care for the rewriting of their history-see below). And Woola was a scene stealer-so much so I'm still surprised that Disney hasn't released any toys of him. I'm sure kids would love to have one. The rest of the plusses: The great white ape scene was the action highlight as was John's escape from Zodanga. I also liked some of the supporting performances like James Purefoy's turn as Kantos Kan and West's Sab Than but they did suffer from being underused-or in the case of West being reduced to second banana status.

The one thing though that I am of two minds on is Taylor Kitsch's performance as John Carter. In the opening scenes on Earth I just had a hard time believing him as a shattered war veteran or for that matter a prospector. Once he was on Barsoom his performance got better and his scenes with Collins were pretty special. In some ways Kitsch almost brought to mind Harrison Ford in his early Star Wars/Raiders of the Lost Ark days-which is good. Just bear with the opening.

And now we head towards the dark side-the problems. And guess what I absolutely hated? Yep those darn Therns. It wasn't bad enough that they were rewritten into shape shifting, floating guys in robes but as a friend pointed out afterwards they were basically clones of the Sith from Star Wars, just minus the lightsabers. It also didn't help that Mark Strong basically played the same character as he did in Sherlock Holmes-a charlatan using people to accomplish his own goals of massive destruction. Also-and I can understand the complaints of the critics-what was their major goal? Basically as stated they don't cause the destruction of worlds, they just give them the tools to do it themselves. Well that's all well and good but if they destroy Barsoom where does that leave them? And what does it accomplish? In all honestly it was really vague as to their ultimate plan and I feel Stanton and co-writers Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon must have just thought no one would care if it was confusing.

Other issues were minor but still annoyances. First I still don't see why Carter was given a dead wife and child since it really had little bearing on the plot at all and in the end didn't matter (I wonder since in some of those scenes Kitsch had shorter hair than the rest of the movie if these weren't added in reshoots after he cut it for Battleship). Also the opening scenes on Earth were dry and slow and filled with tiresome humor-John's repeated escape attempts for example. Finally the final battle was a chaotic mess in the editing-you couldn't tell who was fighting who which I guess can be blamed on the costume design.

Now that's just the average movie goer talking. As an ERB fan well I'll just cut to the chase: If you're expecting a faithful adaptation of A Princess of Mars you won't be happy. The skeleton is intact-from the opening to the wedding finale-but there is a lot of liberties taken. Some of it supposedly was done to flesh out the characters which in some cases does work-Dejah for example-but in other cases it doesn't. The biggest is the rewriting of Tars Tarkas and Sola's back stories. Why they needed to do this I don't know-it robs the film of one of the book's emotional high points and renders Tars in particular weak-especially in his scenes with Tal Hajus. I feel I would have to do another whole separate review to nick pick all of the things Stanton has gotten wrong but that will be another day.

So in closing after all of this rambling how was John Carter of Mars? Did it live up? Well as I said I went in with low expectations and came out entertained. It's a fun Saturday afternoon movie-nothing more, nothing less. And I guess that's all we could hope for. Rating: I guess I'll give it a ***1/2 out of 4 as a movie. As an adaptation a ** out of 4.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

John Carter Sci-Fi Classic Still Inspires


At least according to Discovery News in this new video which takes a look at John Carter of Mars and Edgar Rice Burroughs' influence on writers and scientists. Take a peek while we count down the hours.


The Lone Ranger: First Glimpse


Hi-Yo Silver! With some 12 hours until those midnight showings of John Carter (and I won't be seeing it until Saturday-and I will have a review up as soon as possible) the first image from Disney's other big budget redux of a classic pulp character has arrived courtesy of producer Jerry Bruckheimer http://twitter.com/#!/BRUCKHEIMERJB/status/177771145297264640/photo/1. And well I like the look of Armie Hammer's Ranger-it works. As for Tonto, it's Johnny Depp doing what he usually does-which either means you'll love it or hate it. At least it's different.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Andrew Stanton Talks TED


Well he talks at TED anyway. A new video has been making rounds called "Andrew Stanton: The clues to a great story" where he talks about his approach to making movies and the importance of stories. While I still have my issues with some of the things he's done with John Carter it's still a fascinating video so take a look (and keep an eye out for a new bit of footage showing Edgar Rice Burroughs from the movie.) The second video is another TED speech from one "Peter Weyland" and well...see if you can get the reference. You can find out more about TED at http://www.ted.com/













Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Opinion: Will Critics Save or Doom John Carter?


Another opinion piece. Don't get angry!

As we head closer to John Carter's release the critic reviews are starting to hit. Granted a few hit mostly in Twitter world (the same ones Disney has used in their "Critics" TV spots) but most of them seem to be of the geek variety-the Harry Knowles brigade. Now the magazine and newspaper critics are getting their turn. And the early word? Well it depends on what side of the theater aisle you are sitting in.

Some of the reviews have been gushing praise, others mixed to positive and some flat out negative. (If you want an idea hit http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/john_carter/. Right now the movie has a 75 percent "fresh" rating. But it doesn't have all the reviews in so it might raise or drop anytime). The question is will they save or doom this film before it hits.

Now in this day and age critics are almost seen as being out of step with what people do go see at the movies. The idea of the "critic proof" blockbuster (which seems to have started with the orginal release of Star Wars Episode I-The Phantom Menace) has resulted in such lucrative-but crtically damned-franchises like Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Fast and The Furious. On the other hand critics do on occasion give glowing reviews to blockbusters-last summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the more recent Harry Potter films for example-so they're not all film snobs.

But the question is can they help a movie-especially one with as much negative press as John Carter? As we all know Disney has had problems with the marketing. Stories have become ripe of budget overruns, reshooting and the appearance of a movie out of control. If audiences haven't bought the marketing will they believe Roger Ebert and his ilk? Especially when the target audience that Disney is seeking might not put much stock in their opinions-and I'm not talking fanboys either. I don't think fanboys were lining up for The Vow recently and that got pretty trashed.

On the other hand a good critical review can get audiences into the seats. Such films like District 9 benefitted from the critics giving them thumbs up which can help offset negative press or give the film a boost when pitted against stiff competition. And while John Carter doesn't seem to be facing much opening weekend (the horror flick Silent House seems to be the only other major release) the next few weeks will see it pitted against the highly hyped Hunger Games which might cut in-especially if the response is tepid.

The other issue I've seen is this use of critics to validate someone's own opinion. This has become noticeable on message boards and online forums where it seems there are two camps-the one that has total faith in this movie and believes it will be a masterpiece, the other believing that the film is a disaster and will bomb big time. It seems some are using any positive or negative comments they can find-whether it be some big name critic or some 15 year old on Twitter-to back up their claims of it being a masterpiece or a bomb.

My own thought is this-go with your gut. If this film looks great-or you have waited it as long as I and other Edgar Rice Burroughs fans have then go see it. It doesn't matter whether this film gets glowing reviews or not. If it looks bad then skip it. No one is forcing you to go. For myself I'm going because I'm a fan not because some critic likes it or doesn't. Their opinion isn't important to me and it shouldn't be to other people. Yes it's nice to get love from the critics if you're a filmmaker but to the average moviegoer that isn't important. What's important was were they entertained? And if you were the movie is then a winner which is what matters most. OK?

Monday, March 5, 2012

A Beginner's Guide to John Carter


Well we're in the home stretch with less than five days to go. I thought I would wait until closer to the end of the week to start reporting on critics reviews-as more show up on sites like Rotten Tomatoes. But for the time being Superhero Hype has posted their own guide for newcomers and those who might need a brief refresher. Take a look at http://www.superherohype.com/features/articles/169771-a-beginners-guide-to-john-carters-mars

Sunday, March 4, 2012

John Carter 10 Minute Clip


Well how's this for length. Disney has now released what is basically the opening of John Carter online and well it's OK. Some good stuff but so far not as good as the other clips that have been released. Take a look and see what you think.


Saturday, March 3, 2012

RIP Ralph McQuarrie 1929-2012


Another sad loss today as several sites are reporting the passing of artist Ralph McQuarrie at the age of 82. It was McQuarrie's artwork-after previous work for companies like Boeing-that helped convince 20th Century Fox to take a gamble on George Lucas's space epic Star Wars and the rest is history. McQuarrie worked on the two sequels and such films and TV shows like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the original Battlestar Galactica, ET the Extra Terrestrial and more. You can read some thoughts at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/54019 and see some of his work as well. UPDATE: I thought I would add this: the teaser trailer for The Empire Strikes Back showing off several pieces of Mr. McQuarrie's artwork.


John Carter Clips: "No Escape" "Sign of Trust"


With the movie's release now less than a week away more new footage is showing up. This time it's a new scene showing John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) and a lightening fast Woola's escape from those Zodangans. I wonder how many will be making Return of the Jedi comparions? Oh well it's still a cool scene and I hope you enjoy it! UPDATE:Another clip has shown up, this time the scene MTV showed during their "First Look" special a few days ago. This time's a romantic scene that show some chemistry between Kitsch and Lynn Collins' Dejah.




John Carter: New Fan Trailer-"Heritage"


I'll make this brief: the guys at the John Carter Files has created a new fan trailer, this one celebrating Edgar Rice Burroughs and his impact. So take a look and enjoy!


Thursday, March 1, 2012

From Africa to Mars!


I found this on Youtube and thought it would be cool to share for Edgar Rice Burroughs fans: On March 18, the Kansas City Public Library will be holding a lecture, From Africa to Mars! 100 Years of Tarzan and John Carter, with Unversity of Kansas associate professor John Tibbetts looking at the work of Burroughs and his influential characters. If you live in the area you can find out more at http://www.kclibrary.org/event/john-tibbetts-africa-mars-100-years-tarzan-and-john-carter and watch the video below.


MTV First: John Carter Sneaks New Clip


While the reviews are popping up online-so far I've read everything from raves to disappointments-Taylor Kitsch has been hitting the talk show circuit, yesterday showing up on Live with Kelly and Late Show with David Letterman. Well tonight, March 1, he's hitting MTV where a new clip will be shown at 7:56 p.m. EST before hitting the net for an online chat. You can read more about it at http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2012/02/29/taylor-kitsch-john-carter-mtv-first/. We'll see if the clip hits online and I'll try to get it posted later tonight.