Friday, November 30, 2012

John Carter Second Trailer: One Year Later


Today marks a year since the release of the second trailer for John Carter, so to honor it here's a second look. You know before the dark times, before the flopping.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

John Carter on Shortlist for VFX Oscar


I guess Woola impressed them. Today the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences revealed their short list of 10 films that are eligible for the Oscar for Best Visual Effects and John Carter is among them. The list will be cut down to a final five after branch members see 10 minutes from each film on January 3, 2013. To check out more info and see the other nominees check out http://blogs.indiewire.com/thompsononhollywood/academy-reveals-visual-effects-shortlist-of-ten-including-john-carter-life-of-pi-and-the-hobbit

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: Tarzan The Centennial Celebration


It took a little longer to finish going through this but trust me. It's worth the time.

Since his first appearance 100 years in the All-Story magazine, Tarzan has become a household name, starring in countless movies, comics and novels. Its that diverse line-up that writer and Burroughs expert Scott Tracy Griffin charts in his new book, a lavishly illustrated and heavy (and I do mean heavy) exploration of the Ape-Man's journey from the mind of Edgar Rice Burroughs to pop culture icon.

The book is split into several sections, the first charting Burroughs' life and careers up until the publication of Under the Moons of Mars and then Tarzan of the Apes. After that the book devotes a lengthy section to breaking down each novel-all 24 of them-providing brief synopses and background information on each book, all supported by nice reproductions of original cover art and comic book adaptations. Afterwards, there's chapters on Tarzan's comic appearances, the radio and television shows and a long section on Tarzan's movie career, from the silents up to Disney's 1999 animated film. The last few chapters take a look at Tarzan's international appeal, various official print sequels (including recent novels like The Greystoke Legacy and Jane) and the formation of fan clubs and the Internet as a resource.

Writing with a nice, vibrant style, Griffin provides enough details on Tarzan to make any fan go gaga. There's break downs of the original magazine and book publications of each book and individual sections on such characters like Jane, the comparisons and contrasts between Korak and Boy and Cheeta and Nkima. There's also articles on Tarzan's foes, his tendency to lose his memory (which came from an actual incident Burroughs himself suffered from) and a section on the Pellucidar books tied into Tarzan At the Earth's Core. It's all given a good pace by Griffin without piling on too much information. There's also a nice intro by TV Tarzan Ron Ely and a good chapter looking at Burroughs' non Tarzan work that helps put Tarzan into perspective.

The book's major appeal though is the artwork that graces it. From cover art for the early pulps to the paperback covers of Frazetta, Neal Adams and others, the book is one of the most colorful I've seen in a long time. There's also a nice selection of comic book and strip art, images and behind the scenes pics from the various movie and TV shows, along with photos of Burroughs and his family and the author at work and at home in Tarzana.

There's a few quibbles to be addressed. First those looking for an in-depth critical assessment of the books or the movies will need to look elsewhere. As the subtitle states, this is a celebration so there isn't much criticism of the novels or the films (yes even the Bo Derek film escapes unscathed). There's also not much discussion of unauthorized Tarzan projects, with only a brief mention made of foreign film productions made in the chapter on Tarzan's international appeal.

Even with that this is still a magnificent book and a definite tribute to the character and his creator. For fans of Tarzan and Burroughs and those looking for a nice coffee table book with some actual meat to it, Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration is a must have. Just make sure to have a big enough table to place it on. Rating: **** out of 4.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Swords of Waar: Jane Carver Returns!


I hope you survived Thanksgiving and are making it through Black Friday. As some might remember, a few months back I reviewed a book called Jane Carver of Waar (if not here's the review http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2012/03/book-review-jane-carver-of-waar.html), a parody/homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs. Well while doing some shopping I found out that author Nathan Long has released a sequel that find his Jane returning back to Waar to once again save the day. I ordered a copy so I'll have a review up soon but for now check out http://www.amazon.com/Swords-Waar-Nathan-Long/dp/1597804290/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353703110&sr=8-1&keywords=swords+of+waar for more info. (I did receive today Scott Tracy Griffin's Tarzan: The Centennial Celebration and will have a review up in the next day or so).

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Star Wars: Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg To Write New Episodes


Originally reported by Deadline and now the Hollywood Reporter is confirming that writers Lawrence Kasdan and Simon Kinberg have closed deals to write and produce Episode VIII and IX in the upcoming new trilogy http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/star-wars-lawrence-kasdan-simon-393459. The big news is the return of Kasdan, who co-wrote the scripts for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi as well as Raiders of the Lost Ark. Both will be joining already announced screenwriter Michael Arndt who is writing the script for Episode VII. How's that for some news to give thanks for?

Monday, November 19, 2012

John Carter Blu-Ray Black Friday Deal


Some FYI for you shoppers this week. Amazon is having a pre-Black Friday sale with several Blu-Ray titles half off or even less. In this case they're offering the Blu-Ray/DVD combo John Carter for the grand total of 15 bucks http://www.amazon.com/John-Carter-Two-Disc-Blu-ray-Combo/dp/B007MDB71O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353378821&sr=8-1&keywords=john+carter. So if you didn't want to pay the full price or just saw this weekend on Starz you can now add it to your collection pretty reasonably.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Comic Review: Lord of the Jungle #9


This week's comic book review finds Tarzan heading to France. Viva La Jungle Lord!

Following his adventures in Baltimore, Tarzan hopes to find peace in Paris. But before he reaches land he ends up rescuing the Countess De Coude from two unknown assailants. Her attackers escape and her husband's response is to chew out Tarzan for being alone with his wife. Talk about gratitude! On reaching Paris Tarzan reunites with his friend Paul D'Arnot who fills in the blanks: the attackers were Russian spy Nicholas Rokoff and his associate Paulovitch, who are suspected of stealing an ancient manuscript that leads the to the fabled city of Opar. Another copy is kept by the Count De Coude, who is attempting to sell his copy to pay off debts. When D'Arnot suggests going under cover at a party the De Coudes are throwing to catch Rokoff, Tarzan agrees and the search is on! Oh and we find out that Jane Porter is heading back to Africa.

As you can tell from that description there has been some major reworking of the plot from The Return of Tarzan, in this case streamlining the novel's episodic nature to a single plot-Tarzan's pursuit of Rokoff to Opar. I admit that is actually a good idea as it focuses the story into a strong narrative and keeps Tarzan front and center. Also returning writer Arvid Nelson does some character restructuring to help keep up the drama. Turning De Coude into an obnoxious count does fulfill the plot requirements for this version, even though I miss the building up of his friendship with Tarzan from the novel. Nelson also gives Jane and Esmeralda in their brief appearance enough to work with. So while it doesn't stick to the novel, it retains enough flavor to keep it enjoyable.

The good news is the return of Roberto Castro to do the artwork after the last two issues. He brings a good hand to the characters, bringing back Tarzan and Jane as realistic looking characters while adding enough texture and color to keep the reader's eye glued to the page.

I'll end by giving this issue a good thumbs up. That's it, just buy it and enjoy the fun.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Alexander Skarsgard Top Choice For Tarzan


After hearing from one Tarzan comes word of a potential another. Variety is reporting that True Blood star Alexander Skarsgard is director David Yates' top pick for Warner Bros' upcoming live action version of the ape-man http://www.variety.com/article/VR1118062211?refCatId=13. The article also has a plot description and brace yourself ERB fans:

"John Clayton III, known around the world as the famous "ape man" Tarzan. Years after he's re-assimilated into society, he's asked by Queen Victoria to investigate the goings-on in the Congo. Tarzan teams with an ex-mercenary named George Washington Williams to save the Congo from a fierce warlord who controls a massive diamond mine."

Yeah. No word on Jane Porter but I guess we know not to expect a faithful adaptation. Variety is also reporting that Samuel L. Jackson is being eyed for the Williams part and that a green light should be coming soon to start filming next summer even though there is no official offer yet to either actor.

Kellan Lutz On Tarzan 3D


More ape man news. The Hollywood Reporter has posted a video inteview with Kellan Lutz discussing his work on the upcoming motion capture version of Tarzan and you can watch it at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/breaking-dawns-kellan-lutz-tarzan-390124. The video is brief but Lutz does mention how the film is  one of his “favorite things I’ve done in my acting career," working with the motion capture and comparing Tarzan to his Twilight character.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

John Carter: The Comedy Version


Maybe this is how it should have been made. Youtube user Angerush has put together a trailer that asks the question: What happens when a hero who constantly bumps into things meets a princess who isn't the sharpest member of the royal family? A collision course of wackiness! Watch it and have a few laughs. :-)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #18


Is it just me or is that cover art beautiful? OK moving on...

When we last left off, Dejah had been captured and taken to one of the moons of Saturn (or Xasoom) by the Vathek, a race of Saturnian vampires who plan to conquer Barsoom for fresh supplies. Dejah escaped with Svero, a member of the race of Palidors that the Vathek are feeding on. After a dangerous flight and learning that her density allows her to defy gravity, Dejah meets the Palidors' leader Julz and vows to help him stop the Vathek. But time is running out: the Vathek have sent an ultimatum to the people of Barsoom as well as a device that will destroy the atmosphere plant. Taking the risk, Dejah and Svero break into the Vathek headquarters. However everything is not how it appears.

Keeping the pace moving fast and clipped, writer Robert Napton manages to establish the threat and a course of action while keeping the storyline grounded in Dejah's quest to redeem herself. Her decision to help the Palidor people and to risk her own life to save Barsoom shows the character Edgar Rice Burroughs created, a woman willing to live and die for her people. I also liked how Napton worked in some interesting ideas like Dejah's abilities to jump mirroring her later husband's abilities when he arrives on Barsoom. Granted the twist at this issue's end should have been seen a mile a way but I'll wait and see how it plays out in the next issue.

Continuing to provide the artwork is Debora Carita and she manages to keep it nice and clean. Granted I still miss Carlos Rafael's work and there is some things I don't like-Dejah's wool socks for example-but Carita's design of the characters and ability to serve the story is a strong plus.

I have to say that so far this might be the best story arc for the series yet. So if you've written off Dejah Thoris, especially after the Boora Witch storyline, give it another try and you might enjoy it.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Michael Arndt To Write Star Wars: Episode VII


Well here's one rumor that is true. The official Star Wars web site has confirmed that Oscar-Winning screenwriter Michael Arndt (Little Miss Sunshine, Toy Story 3 and the upcoming The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) has been hired to write the full screenplay for the next chapter in the saga. You can read the news at http://www.starwars.com/news/michael-arndt-to-write-screenplay-for-star-wars-episode-vii.html

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Review: A Princess of Mars (A Graphic Novel)


Because you can never have enough versions.

I had heard about this one and had seen some artwork on a web site but this had flown under my radar until I saw it at the local Barnes and Noble over the weekend and got a copy. Adapted by Ian Edginton (whose credits include an adaptation of The War of the Worlds for Dark Horse Comics as well as some Star Wars and Star Trek comics), this one wins the prize for being the most faithful of the three adaptations that have shown up in the past two years (the others being Dynamite's Warlord of Mars and Marvel's abysmal John Carter-A Princess of Mars). From the opening which keeps Burroughs' framing device right through it presents the entire novel with only some minor tweaks in dialogue and a few clarifications to keep it moving. I know some will find his approach boring and would welcome a more original take than just sticking to the original so you're warned.

For the artwork, the job here is handled by I.N.J. Culbard, who did art for the same original publisher, Self Made Hero, on adaptations of At the Mountains of Madness and a couple of Sherlock Holmes stories. The art here is, well muted in that it lacks the overly bright colors of the Dynamite comics. It also has a more retro feel to it, which actually helps tell the story without drawing attention to itself. I know that sounds strange but in comics sometimes artists seem to get carried away trying to wow the reader with splashy colors and action and Culbard instead goes with a more subdued palette. That's not to say it doesn't deliver action or there isn't some brightness. Just don't expect the standard comic book look.

Also don't expect clothing. This is definitely adult oriented so those who complain about Dejah's skimpy attire should probably just avoid it now.

I guess after having a swarm of John Carter of Mars comic books this past two years, I thought another one was overkill. But I'm pleasantly surprised how well this one turned out and how it pays tribute to Burroughs and his creation. So give it a chance if you're not burned out on Barsoom. Rating: ***1/2 out of 4. Next time I'll give opinions on the return of Tarzan and the dreaded Star Wars commentary.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Tarzan: David Yates Set as Director


According to Vulture anyway http://www.vulture.com/2012/11/david-yates-committing-to-tarzan-at-warner-bros.html. Harry Potter veteran David Yates has agreed to direct Warner Bros' live action reboot of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Lord of the Jungle after much speculation over who would direct. The article also lists the studio's wish list to put on the loincloth with the top contenders being new Man of Steel Henry Cavill, Charlie Hunnam of Sons of Anarchy and the upcoming Pacific Rim, Christopher Nolan veteran Tom Hardy and True Blood star Alexander Skaarsgard. So there's this week's poll question and we'll see what Yates does with Lord Greystoke.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Star Wars Episode VII Rumor Time


Begun the Rumor Wars Have!

Yep we're just a few days after the big news of Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm and we already have two rumors hitting the web. The first comes from Collider's Steve Weintraub who reports that Matthew Vaughn (best known for Kick-Ass and last year's X-Men: First Class) is in talks to take the director's chair for the sequel http://collider.com/star-wars-episode-7-matthew-vaughn/208715/#more-208715. Topping that one is former LA Times Hero Complex writer Geoff Boucher whose reporting for Entertainment Weekly that Harrison Ford is considering reprising his role as everyone's favorite scruffy nerf herder Han Solo for the sequel along with a possibly returning Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher http://insidemovies.ew.com/2012/11/05/star-wars-sequel-harrison-ford-han-solo-exclusive/. We'll have to see if any of these stories turn out to be true but for now there you go. UPDATE: More rumors! In this case another name has been floated as a potential director, indie filmmaker Colin Trevorrow, whose feature Safety Not Guaranteed caught the eye of George Lucas himself while TMZ has a comment from Carrie Fisher who told them she was willing to return to as Princess Leia for the sequel. You can read the Trevorrow rumor here http://heyuguys.co.uk/is-safety-not-guaranteeds-colin-trevorrow-on-the-list-of-directors-for-star-wars-episode-7/ and Fisher's comments at http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=96798


Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Future of John Carter of Mars


Consider this an "Opinion Time" piece.

With only two months left in 2012, the 100th anniversary of John Carter of Mars will be coming to a close, not with a bang but with a whimper. What was supposed to be a big year for the character was mired in the box office failure and fallout of the John Carter movie, an event that in some people's eyes has now left the Warlord of Barsoom and his incomparable Princess Dejah Thoris in a no win situation. But as Carter himself always says "I Still Live" so the question is where does the future of the character lie? What follows is some thoughts on where I feel could happen and that might rejuvenate and rehabilitate the character's image to the public. Now I don't expect anyone to agree with me, nor do I expect that anyone from ERB Inc will care what I think should be done (if they even read this blog). But this is just some ideas from a fan. So to kick off:

John Carter of Mars' film future.
Let's be blunt here. Disney is not making a sequel. That was a forgone conclusion back in March when they declared John Carter cost them a 200 million write down and with this week's announcement of them gaining the rights to Star Wars unlikely that the studio has any interest at all in a second Carter film. Also director Andrew Stanton has already jumped ship to salvage his career with Finding Nemo 2 so there is no one probably even pushing for it at Disney. So the question is where to go with Carter's film future? Here's what is known: Disney holds the rights to John Carter until 2015 at which time they either had to make a second movie or release them back to ERB Inc. I don't know if ERB Inc can get them back earlier than that but this might be a course of action, especially since Disney has already washed their hands of it. But let's say for argument's sake that ERB Inc does get them back, what direction should they go in? I've already made it clear I'm a supporter of rebooting, of starting over and ignoring Stanton's film in favor of a film that is more faithful Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels and I feel that is where they need to go. Another option is to consider producing a film based on one of the later novels that possibly doesn't feature John Carter as a lead character, The Master Mind of Mars or A Fighting Man of Mars possibly.Or maybe another route is needed.

Television and Animation.
How about going with one of those? One of the major issues that some had with the books-especially those defending Stanton's tossing out the plot of A Princess of Mars-was the episodic nature of them, with some suggesting that the only way to do it and keep it faithful would be a TV series. Well why not? Granted I doubt a major network would be appropriate but as HBO, Showtime and Starz have shown, there are networks willing to take risks with unique material that doesn't have to appeal to a mass audience. And sometimes they hit pay dirt. Just look at Game of Thrones, which not only proves they can do a fantasy series and do it straight but can get viewers. Plus the HBO format of 12 episode seasons would be good a fit for John Carter of Mars since they can do a book a season. It could also serve as a fallback until a new movie gets made. Granted I understand the drawbacks, the chief being a budget. Stanton's film alone cost 250 million to produce but there is already some corners that can be cut: the FX budget for example could be spent on the Tharks, Woola and the White Apes instead of moving cities, shape shifting Therns or Carter's absurd jumping. Also with television there won't be any reshoot happy directors which could keep costs down.

The other option I mentioned is animation which could also be explored. After all Bob Clampett's surviving test footage shows it could be done. The question is which way to go with it. Personally I would love to see a John Carter of Mars animated show done old school with traditional 2D animation, along the lines of Filmation's 1970s Tarzan, Lord of the Jungle or Flash Gordon series. I however do understand the appeal of 3D animation given the fact that most animated shows with sci-fi or fantasy elements seem to be going in this direction. There is also the question of whether or not a series or just an animated movie would work best. If anything going with a movie-probably direct to DVD-might allow fans of Stanton's film their chance to see his version of The Gods of Mars with the original actors returning to provide voices (it was done for two animated Hellboy movies a few years back) so there is that avenue to explore.

New Books and Comics
Interestingly the one place where Barsoom has not been explored much has been the printed word. ERB Inc has recently allowed authors to play with Tarzan, turning him into a young adult hero and an object of lust for Jane so why not allow an author to explore Barsoom? Earlier this year an anthology book-not endorsed by ERB-called Under the Moons of Mars was released that while it had some uneven stories, showed there was writers I'm sure would be not only interested but willing to tackle the characters and world Burroughs created. I understand that some fans might be have doubts about a new author writing a John Carter of Mars novel-after all how many shelves are there filled with sub par Conan and Sherlock Holmes pastiches-but it may help get the character back on book shelves.

As for comics, well again we have some facts to work with. We know that ERB Inc made a big deal out of their contract with Marvel last year and that they also sued Dynamite Entertainment over their Warlord of Mars comics and spin offs. But here's the truth-without Disney putting pressure on them, its unlikely Marvel will continue with any new John Carter comics, as the lack of any announcement following the end of their Gods of Mars series indicates. I don't know where the lawsuit sets at this point but maybe its time to reach some sort of agreement and just allow Dynamite to continue. Because if not and the suit is awarded to ERB Inc then what? It will be like the movie, the rights will be stuck with a company that now has no interest and the character will disappear from comic stores.

I'm now opening this up to you guys. What are your thoughts on the future of John Carter of Mars and where he should go? Is there any other places that can be explored-merchandising for example-that can help keep the character going for another 100 years? Leave your thoughts and open up the discussion. We still live.