Monday, April 29, 2013

"What's Really Wrong With John Carter"


Sorry for the lack of updates but I've been busy. That's all I got.

I haven't linked to many reviews of John Carter but while looking around I found this one that really struck me. It's by Salon's Steven Axelrod and it hits upon a point that was brought up a lot during John Carter's fall out: That the film failed due to Andrew Stanton being too "faithful" to Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels. What that showed though was a lack of knowledge of the source material since-as I've ranted along with others-Stanton's biggest failure was his decision to ignore the books in favor of his own ideas. In this case Mr. Axelrod also agrees in his piece, that the film's real failure was that it wasn't faithful. Here's a sneak peek that sums it up perfectly:


Many of the tropes Burroughs invented have been ripped off, or ‘anthologized’ by generations of filmmakers, most notably in recent years, Lucas, Spielberg and Cameron. The auteur of Avatar even admitted he was making ‘an Edgar Rice Burroughs movie’. What none of these directors have managed to duplicate or purloin is the tone of Burrough’s breathless prose. And no one has fallen so far short as Andrew Stanton. Apparently his love for the material is sincere; all the more baffling that he would betray it so artlessly. The list of blunders is endless, but you can start with that “jumbled, confusing narrative” that all the critics complained about. No one ever complained about the jumbled narrative in a Burroughs novel. And one ever called Tchaikovsky “tuneless”.
 
 
You can read the rest at http://open.salon.com/blog/steven_axelrod/2012/03/19/whats_really_wrong_with_john_carter and decide for yourself if he's right or not. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

John Carter of Mars: The Journey

 
Probably most of you die-hard Barsoom fans have seen this (especially at our old pal's John Carter Files site) but I don't think I've posted here. So for your viewing enjoyment is this video created by members of the Back to Barsoom movement showing the history and trip of John, Dejah and company to the big screen. So if you haven't watched it take a peek and enjoy.
 


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Thor: The Dark World First Trailer!


For those who haven't seen it yet, here's your first glimpse of Thor and company's return. It looks pretty good and I hope it lives up the first film, so take a peek and let us know what you think.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris & The Green Men #3


Before someone asks, yes I missed issue 2. I'll try to catch up with a review of it as soon as I can get a copy. If this series gets better.

As this issue opens, Dejah is about to be carved up for supper by a nasty Thark when she luckily escapes thanks to another captive red woman who has developed a mystical power (a relative of a mystical energy field I think). Trapped in a series of caverns underneath Barsoom Dejah plays a game of cat and mouse with her captors while John Carter and Tars Tarkas try to piece together what happened to her.

I wasn't too thrilled with issue one of this series and sadly have to admit I'm not that crazy about this issue either. Part of it is just a nastiness I feel from the story, as it owes more to Jigsaw than John Carter of Mars, with its cut up female victims and blood spatter. Now I enjoyed the last Dejah miniseries, The White Apes of Mars as Mark Rahner and company I felt concocted a cool monster on the loose story. Here it just isn't working and turns into one of those I Spit on Your Grave revenge thrillers that I always thought were off-putting. Sorry folks but I have to call as it as I see it.

Which is sad as the artwork by Lui Antonio is a good reason to pick up this issue. He captures the dark catacombs Dejah is trapped under well, contrasted with the brighter outdoor scenes with John and Tars. He also makes the Tharks look like mean, nasty brutes. His work also carries the middle section-which actually works-where there is little dialogue or captions as Dejah flees and eventually fights for her life. If there is a reason to pick this up Antonio's work is it.

Beyond that though I feel that Dynamite, which has done really well with their other Barsoomian comics, just dropped the ball here. Some I'm sure will enjoy it but I would rather have more swashbuckler and less slasher movie here.

Friday, April 19, 2013

John Carter Sequel Talk: Stanton Needs 1M Fans


OK just to provide some relief from today's news, director Andrew Stanton has returned to his Twitter account at http://twitter.com/andrewstanton to answer fans' questions. Probably not surprisingly, the topic of a John Carter sequel popped up, so what's the latest news? Stanton told one that if he and his co-writers would return he responded "If Disney asks we're there," although he also told another fan that it would take "about 1M fans and no critics" to get it made. So make of that what you will.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #24


Another late review, this time finding Dejah and company on the run and about to become lunch!

Following their crash landing escape from the assassin Boll Rem and meeting some unfriendly rats, Dejah and Kantos Kan struggle to protect the bratty princess Tash Lia from Boll Rem and to get her to safety. But an assassin is not their only problem. Soon they go from hungry ulsios to hungry humans as they discover a race of cannibals who plan on serving them as lunch, dinner and dessert. Lucky for them they're saved as a white ape is offered up. Unlucky for them Boll Rem has found them, leading to a surprise final confrontation between Dejah and the relentless killer.

Looking at this short two issue arc I have to admit it's a fun tale that manages to at least keep the temp running from start to finish. Robert Place Napton does bring in some grisly elements-what is it with the recent cannibalism on Barsoom?-but otherwise keeps the suspense and action flowing pretty smoothly. The only complaints here is that Tash Lia is annoying character who engenders little empathy until the end but otherwise this short story is one of the best so far in this series.

After a one issue absence Carlos Rafael returns and as usual it's a clean visual look, even for those who think Dejah should put some clothes on. He also manages to make those cannibals look gruesome and handles the action with ease. In other words, a good job.

For fans this is a nice short winner. Just don't read it after supper.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Comic Review: Lord of the Jungle #14


Well I'm a little late with this week's comic book reviews so I'll be catching up for the next few posts. Moving on here's the final showdown for Opar!

With Jane Porter his prisoner and Opar under his control Nickolas Rockoff plans a final trap to eliminate Tarzan and to escape with the loot. However Jane finds an unlikely ally in La, and the two escape Jane's cell. Meanwhile Tarzan and the Waziri launch their raid on Opar, fighting off the Beast Men of Opar and Rockoff's men until Tarzan gets into a final knife fight with Rockoff, and only one man is left standing...

As seen in the last few issues, Arvid Nelson has deviated quite a bit from The Return of Tarzan for his storyline and well it's a fun tale. I was taken back by seeing La suddenly helping Jane-considering mostly she would like to get rid of her in Burroughs' books-but the issue moves swiftly to its conclusion with no flab and mucho action. The final fight between Tarzan and Rockoff is also well staged and at least gives the reader a payoff that Burroughs himself never did (I guess I always wanted Rockoff to meet his demise at the hands of Tarzan, not as a panther's meal). All in all a nice finale to this take on the story.

I've run out of praises for Roberto Castro's artwork here so I'll just repeat myself. Nice, bright imagery; great character designs and a fluid sense to the action sequences. It may not equal the best of Tarzan comic art but it's still a good contender.

For Lord of the Jungle fans this issue is a definite must have as it wraps up a compelling story line and gives the reader a slam-bang Tarzan tale to boot. Just sit back and enjoy the action.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Book Review: Tarzan on Mars


I had planned to post this earlier but with the recent Tarzan movie news this got bumped. So finally, here are my thoughts on what was supposed to be the historic first meeting of the two JCs…


With World War II on the horizon Tarzan is having the usual problem, La. In this case as usual she’s rejecting her ugly suitor Cadj and wondering why Tarzan prefers Jane to her (and many fans wonder as well). But before you can say well whatever that silly phrase was in John Carter, La disappears. When Tarzan investigates he finds a diadem as the only possible clue to her whereabouts. Giving the item to Jane, she also vanishes. Eventually though Tarzan discovers the truth: The diadem is the Great Star of Issus, the Barsoomian Goddess, which means Tarzan has to get his ass to Mars, pronto! Or after he spends seven years in service to England and then spending his fortune to build a rocket ship to get him there, but pronto!

Meanwhile things on Barsoom are not rosy. The Lotharian Jeddak Tario, discovering that his race is not alone on Barsoom decides he’s going to conquer the planet. Pulling together the disparate remains of the Therns and the First Born as well as the Zumorians, a race of seers to help in his mad scheme, Tario plans his conquest His plan you ask? To produce the “real” Issus and lead a holy war against John Carter, the Warlord of Barsoom. When Carter finds out he sends Kar Komak, the Lotharian bowman made real to infiltrate the stronghold in Taranth. But Tario ends up producing two Issus-La and Jane! With La placed in hiding and Jane’s being mind controlled, he is ready to proclaim himself Tharos Pthan, mate of Issus. But when Jane speaks that her true mate will come from another world, little does Tario or anyone know who shows up. His name is Lord Greystoke, Tarzan of the Apes, ready to kick ass and chew bubble gum. And he’s out of gum.

I had already covered the origin of this “book” a few months back but for those who missed that a brief recap: Written in 1954 by writer Stuart J. Byrne under the pen name “John Bloodstone,” Tarzan on Mars was an attempt by Amazing Stories editor Ray Palmer to continue Edgar Rice Burroughs’ characters. It was never published though as the Burroughs estate blocked it but over the years rumors of it leaked out and eventually it leaked out. So was it worth the wait?

Well yes and no. In some respects it’s a fun piece of fan fiction but in other cases it really falls short. First the bad stuff: Byrne/Bloodstone is not Burroughs as he drags out the narrative to the point of exhaustion. While the opening setup with Tarzan is a nice throwback to the characters, after Tarzan takes off he disappears for a long stretch. That would be fine except Byrne fills up page after page with Tario and his compatriots bickering over their plans, Issus and what not or Kar Komak wandering around and making questionable decisions. In one chapter after learning of the bad guys’ plans he escapes but instead of going straight to Helium he takes a side trip to Lothar. Granted he finds La but still. Also those wanting to see the Warlord in action well forget it. John Carter appears briefly in the beginning and doesn’t reappear until the very end during the big battle sequence.

It’s not to say there isn’t some fun stuff in Tarzan on Mars and Byrne does bring up some interesting plot twists, most notably with his handling of La. Convincing several that she is the real Issus, she ends up taking over the latter section of the book as she rallies her own army and leads them to get rid of the false Issus (who after all is standing in her way to getting Tarzan). Byrne also throws in cameos from several characters-from Korak and Merriem to Vad Varo and Carthoris-that it becomes a “Where’s Waldo” grab bag. The final assault on the Holy Alliance’s compound is also a well-written sequence that while it falls short of say the Valley Dor battle in The Gods of Mars it still provides a needed boost.

Which is good considering what happens next (SPOILER ALERT). There is no conclusion! In a note attached Byrne suggested to Palmer one of two scenarios: He could either wrap up the story in a few chapters, have Tarzan find Jane, La find love with Kar Komak and have her egg and Carthoris could come up with a way to get Tarzan and Jane back to Earth. Or he could end with a cliffhanger and have the Therns and First Born escape Barsoom and head to another planet, setting up Tarzan on Venus. (And I guess a third one would be Tarzan Beyond the Farthest Star or Tarzan and the Moon Men). This lack of wrap up is frustrating but oh well.

Is Tarzan on Mars worth reading? I would say yes for its historical value and as I said a piece of fan fiction. Does it equal the best of Burroughs? Not by a long shot. Maybe at some point someone else will pen the ultimate Tarzan meets John Carter tale but for now this is what we got. Rating (historical/entertainment value) ***/**1/2 out of 4.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Constantin's Tarzan Gets New Poster


Talk about bizarre synconricity. Following yesterday's announcement that Warner Bros was suspending production on their Tarzan film, a new poster has arrived to promote the foreign release of Constantin's motion capture take. As you can tell it has apes, vines and helicopters added to the mix so we'll see what happens.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

David Yates' Tarzan "Dead on the Vine"


Just cutting to the chase: Deadline is reporting that Warner Bros is shutting down the production office for David Yates' upcoming Tarzan over concerns about the film's budget and possibly casting issues http://www.deadline.com/2013/04/tarzan-dying-on-the-vine-at-warner-bros/. The article does say that Warners might try again next year to start production and that Yates is still attached to direct. It also says that Jamie Foxx was being courted to take the third lead, probably the same role that Samuel L. Jackson was rumored to be playing. Sorry folks, I had hoped to see a new live-action Tarzan film on the big screen. I guess we better hope that motion capture film is good.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Carson Napier (Possibly) Set for 2014


Honestly at this point I expect a John Carter of Mars reboot before this film ever gets made but for those still waiting, the Internet Movie Database is now saying that Carson Napier will be released next year http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1337098/. They also have added the poster shown above, which was only seen on Angelic Pictures' web site so is that a sign that it might be inching towards a possible start? I guess we'll see but as I said I'm not holding my breath.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Captain America: The Winter Soldier First Pic!


OK we're off the usual track here but the first film was one of my favorites. So here's the first picture from the set of the sequel, which was also released with confirmation that Scarlett Johannson will be back as Black Widow. Empire's web site has more info so hit http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=37075 and see who Robert Redford is playing.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Book Review: Swords of Waar


OK I promised a review and sorry it took so long.

After being sent back to Earth by the scheming Priests of the Seven, Jane Carver is trying to find her way back to the planet Waar and more importantly to the arms of Lhan-Lar. After discovering a vintage pulp paperback written in the early 1900s, Jane finds another device that sends her to Waar, only to find herself and Lhan accused of kidnapping the Aldhanan's daughter Wen-Jhai and her husband Sai-Far. Barely escaping the Priests, Jane rescues Lhan and company and agrees to help the Aldhanan destroy the Priests of the Seven. They also discover that the Priests have devices that have been harvesting the planet's water supply, forcing the populace to submit to their rule. But with traitors in their midst, pirates everywhere and a mysterious man who doesn't belong on Waar, Jane has her work cut out for her.

I had enjoyed Nathan Long's Jane Carver of Waar, a fun, satirical take on the genre with its bawdy humor, sword wielding action, sly references to Edgar Rice Burroughs and the more adult themes that when I heard he had written a second book I was excited to read it and see if it lived up. Well it sort of does.

After a clever opening setup with direct references to the pulp inspirations for his story, Long draws out the story too long that I began to wish he would hurry up and get moving. The arrival on Waar and Jane's escape from the the Temple of Ormolu is an exciting set piece but once Jane finds Lhan it becomes one long scene of the two bickering over Lhan's pride and Jane's place on Waar to the point I began to wonder if Jane shouldn't had stayed home. The humor from the previous book and its satirical jabs at Burroughs and the Barsoomian genre also is gone, replaced by a more straight action story. While I enjoy a good action yarn as the next person it was the humor that won me over in the first book and I wished Swords of Waar had more of that.

That said Long does provide a good narrative and some interesting twists and turns. The sequences where the Aldhanan goes undercover with Jane as a Priestess of Laef finally kicks the story in gear with a cool scene in an arena, an air battle and the reintroduction of female pirate leader Kai-La. The introduction of "the WarGod" brings a nice twist that well just imagine John Carter meets the "Mirror Mirror" episode of the classic Star Trek and you'll get the idea. The final 30 pages are also among the best I've read in a long time with non stop action and a sense of fun.

Wrapping up I'll give Swords of Waar *** out of 4. The final section rocks but the earlier sections needed more action Jane and less bickering couple. Still I hope there will be a third book (and I get the feeling based on the climax there is an opening for one).

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Tarzan News 1: Skarsgard and Savage Lands


Originally I did a "John Carter News" feature collecting little tidbits so I guess we'll revamp that for Tarzan News. So get you bull ape calls ready!

The first piece comes from Crave Online, which posted an excerpt from an interview with actor Alexander Skarsgard promoting his upcoming movie Disconnect about David Yates' upcoming Tarzan film. Despite earlier reports Skarsgard is not signed yet for the role but he has revealed he has read the script and "it’s a very, very good script" he reports. Hit http://www.craveonline.com/film/articles/474541-exclusive-alexander-skarsgard-isnt-sure-about-tarzan for more info, including his comments on Yates.

Next up and falling in the "how did I miss this" camp, Amazon is taking pre-orders for The New Adventures of Tarzan: The Savage Lands, the latest in Andy Briggs' revamp series, which is set for July 16. This time around Tarzan and company hit Opar so we'll see how Briggs tackles that area. To order go to http://www.amazon.com/The-Savage-Lands-New-Adventures/dp/1480400149/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365109024&sr=8-1&keywords=tarzan+savage+lands

OK I'll be back later with some reviews (about 200 pages into Swords of Waar) and more news.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Kenner's "John Carter" Figures!


Yep folks! In an attempt to finally recoup their investment Disney will finally bow to the pressures of those 5 or 10 people who still care and release a line of action figures. Among the batch will be John Carter, John Carter with Whining Action, Dejah Thoris, Dejah in Wedding Gown, Dejah in Wedding Night Gear,  Tars Tarkas, Headless Tal Hajus, Matai Shang as Old Woman with a Tan, Matai Shang as Bald Guy with Glowing Eyes and John Carter's Wife (Before and After Dying). So line up and try to find them! :-) (Also Happy April's Fools!)