Tuesday, July 19, 2011

John Carter of Mars: The Teaser

Last week the teaser for John Carter of Mars hit the net and the blogs started chiming in on the movie’s prospects. Well, I’m no different.

The teaser left me indifferent. I was not excited about it, just slightly apprehensive, as much so as I was when the Conan trailers hit. At least John Carter of Mars claims to be an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars.

The story presented does appear on the surface to be the plot of Burroughs’ book. John Carter is transported to Mars via something akin astral projection and the adventure begins with the incomparable Deja Thoris and his friend and ally Tars Tarkis. How closely this film represents Burroughs’ work remains to be seen. Like Conan, the movie theater will get my eight bucks.

Visual this did not seem like Burroughs’ Mars. No red sands, ocher vegetation The Barssomians (Martians) were red, but it was more Alabama red clay pigmentation than the coppery red of Burroughs people. The costuming appears to belong in a sword and sorcery film rather than the sword and planet of Barsoom. Considering the characters in A Princess of Mars were close to naked I understand some costuming changes needed to be made. But where is the glittering harness, the jewels and gold? The precious and base metals of rank? Where is the richness and age of Helium?

The choice of Taylor Kitsch for John Carter did not impress me, seeing the trailer, I still stand by that impression.

The weapons and warriors of this production made me wonder where John Carter of Mars was in this film. In Burroughs’ books, fencing and the honor of hand to hand combat is a central cultural theme, even for the Tharks, the ten foot, four armed, green Martians. The weapons again are sword and sorcery props. Where are the rapiers and thin bladed long swords of Mars? John Carter is duel-wielding large scimitar like blades--because any hero that is cool HAS to duel-wield.

The air ships left me completely cold. The odd “wings” displayed appear to be rudders. This is not any design I saw in my mind’s eye. The fliers of Barsoom stay afloat because of the discovery and control of the “Eighth ray” and appear to be like sleds or of sailing ship configurations.

There was none of the science fantasy that the pulp era offered in the scenery, weapons, or costuming. It has too much of the modern CGI slickness to it all. Rather than utilizing the CGI to tell Burroughs’ story it is “improving” it to its detriment. I only hope this Disney production does not have the feel of Prince of Persia or other over the top productions.

Admittedly this is a teaser so it could not show everything and post production may add much. Visually I do not think this film will meet my hopes or expectations. I did not see Barsoom or John Carter. I saw a Kull, a Conan, or a Dar of Beast Master fame. It may be sword and planet adventure, but so was Krull.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed on all points. But what did we expect from Disney? Be honest, The Mouse is just not the right production house to handle John Carter. They have the money, but lack the vision or the passion for this film. In the end, all I am hoping for is a fun movie, which it looks to be. I guess we will have to keep waiting for a faithful adaption of the Mars saga...