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February 17, 2012 12:33 PM   Subscribe


 
Meanwhile...
Dynamite Entertainment sued over 'Tarzan', 'John Carter'
posted by Artw at 12:33 PM on February 17, 2012


Box Office Poison.
posted by haley_joel_osteen at 12:34 PM on February 17, 2012


Another view:

Cheerleading a film has never been part of my film reviews or writing. I see it often as a website or writer buying into the marketing of a massive film and doing the studio’s job for them. There are exceptions, of course, and times when it is appropriate. If the feeling of excitement is genuine, or the film is a small release in need of exposure, cheerleading is more than beneficial. With that, it may seem hypocritical of me to cheerlead a 300-million dollar epic, but in this case, Andrew Stanton’s John Carter seems to need all the help it can get.
posted by Artw at 12:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


”It just came out. Women of all ages have flat out rejected the film..."

That's kind of funny as the film was specifically not titled John Carter of Mars to keep from scaring off women (New Yorker paywall).

I assume that is because women, with their genetic predisposition toward the disciplined and strategic Minerva, would refuse to see a movie that so openly aligned itself with her bloodthirsty brother.
posted by griphus at 12:38 PM on February 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


The trailers are horrible. Just horrible. They're going to need amazing word of mouth and amazing reviews to overcome the trailers.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm thinking the unholy combination of a generic name and a trailer that's basically a CGI blur of nothingness means that most people don't know what the hell it even is.
posted by Artw at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


Am I missing something? It's not released until March 9th right? Isn't it awfully premature to call it the biggest flop in history or whatever?
posted by T.D. Strange at 12:39 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I saw one commercial for this movie. Until they gave the name of the movie I thought it was going to be a Gor move. If you know the Gor books you would understand my mistake.
posted by Splunge at 12:40 PM on February 17, 2012 [23 favorites]


You'dve thought Disney would have learned after its last Mars-themed flopper.
posted by briank at 12:40 PM on February 17, 2012


Moms Need John Carter of Mars
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:42 PM on February 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm actually in the movie business, although not in the part of the business that would be showing something like John Carter, and I'm really surprised that everybody's this worried a month before the premiere. The buzz, for better or worse, is really just now ramping up for this movie.
posted by penduluum at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


John Carter of Mars Needs Moms
posted by daniel_charms at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


When I see the masses of CGI monsters in the trailer, I think, I've already seen this on my PS3. Probably unfair. But there is a certain aspect to the way they move -- in the trailer, at least -- that reminds me of a crop of Ganados all sort of looking like they're trying to look like they're breathing, and it looks like if I take a swipe at them they'll all do an identical cringe away from me.
posted by Infinity_8 at 12:43 PM on February 17, 2012


I first saw the trailer a few weeks ago while sitting in a sports bar, and found the special effects so laughably and non-ironically artificial that I was shocked to see it named as John Carter - because I was aware that Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E) was directing, and I expected high-quality work from him, even in a new milieu.

I haven't seen special effects *that* bad since Jumanji... which reminds me: I need to watch Jumanji again.
posted by The Confessor at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2012


Can someone explain what "early tracking" is? The whole first sentence makes no sense to me.

Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney Studios‘ John Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice..."

Is this data gleaned from twitter or something?
posted by frecklefaerie at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?
posted by murphy slaw at 12:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


Hopefully, the Doug Ross cameo will save it.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:45 PM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Speaking of shitty CGI, I watched Total Recall (for the ten thousandth time) a little while ago and, man, is anyone important doing special effects with miniatures and animatronics and so on anymore?
posted by griphus at 12:45 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


T.D. Strange, a lot of the coverage is looking at indicators like focus group responses, per-release surveys, and the $70 million-plus the studio is sinking into promotion. None of that is auguring well.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:46 PM on February 17, 2012


"Early tracking" there refers to pre-release focus group feedback.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:47 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, this is or is not Noah Wyle?
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 12:47 PM on February 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


It looks like the worst parts of a Star Wars prequel spliced together.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:47 PM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?

Well, considering the name is recognizable almost exclusively to either scifi geeks (who would see it even if it were called Johnny Carter's Martian Adventure) or the rest of target audience's great-grandparents, I think they gambled on the fact that not titling it as an overt science fiction movie would net them a bigger audience.

Key word there being "gambled."
posted by griphus at 12:48 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I've never heard of this film, my hatred for mainstream advertising beat out my love for bad sci-fi movies. Anyway, here's some trailers for anyone equally ignorant: one, two.

Wow that looks awful. It looks like all the bad parts of Wild Wild West and Avatar, not enough Dune, and desperately needs a prettier star than Taylor Kitsch if he's going to be carrying the movie on his shirtless back.
posted by Nelson at 12:49 PM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


It looks like the worst parts of a Star Wars prequel spliced together.

The best parts. It looks like the best parts of a Star Wars prequel spliced together. Which, yeah, faint praise and all.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 12:50 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I don't watch these kinds of jumping-in-air fighting CGI beasts movies, but it doesn't seem a whole lot different from other movies of its kind from the trailers. The CGI looks pretty bad, but what do I know. I only watched Avatar at the urging of my wife, and I thought it was a decent movie.

The thing that jumped out at me with this one is that there doesn't seem to be even any sort of attempt to have a story - it's just this human fighting aliens. It obviously has no basis in reality given the setting (Mars) despite the spartan clothing and apparent air breathing and all that. Still, even half looking at the trailer while doing other things during the Superbowl I found myself actively thinking that, even for a fantasy movie, it looked particularly preposterous and wholly unrealistic.

Big problem: Name. If you name it after the character, one would assume that it's a character study. This, to me, seems boring and would alienate your primary 12-35 male demographic for these sorts of movies. The name doesn't tell me anything about the movie. You could call it 'Fighting Aliens on Mars' and then at least I'd go in with decent expectations.

If they called it 'A Princess of Mars' you'd pull in women automatically, I'd think.

So far it seems to have huge dealbreakers for all dempographics. Not a good start.
posted by jimmythefish at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else think it's weird that Led Zeppelin music is being reappropriated as Wagnerian?
posted by shakespeherian at 12:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


So Disney wants to copy the success of Avatar, so they copy Avatar, and the result is less than great. This is my shocked face.
posted by zardoz at 12:53 PM on February 17, 2012


If they called it 'A Princess of Mars' you'd pull in women automatically, I'd think.

They were beaten to it by a mockbuster.
posted by griphus at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I went thru a huge ERB phase when I was a girl - read a dozen or so of the Barsoom books, a bunch of Tarzan books, Pellucidar, etc - so I'll probably go see this when it comes out. I may be drunk when I do so, though.
posted by rmd1023 at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


there doesn't seem to be even any sort of attempt to have a story - it's just this human fighting aliens.

Oh man oh man this is all I've ever wanted
posted by Greg Nog at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Can someone explain what "early tracking" is? The whole first sentence makes no sense to me.
Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney Studios‘ John Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice..."[a senior exec at a rival studio emails me.]
Is this data gleaned from twitter or something?


Whenever I see journalists reprint a quote wholecloth in this way, with no analysis but a prominent appeal to their own sources I tend to assume the journalist, too, does not understand what it means. (Except for the obvious: it is bad). There are, of course, exceptions for writers with a primarily industry- or technical audience. It's probably a personal failing of mine.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:54 PM on February 17, 2012


The buzz, for better or worse, is really just now ramping up for this movie.

Uh, I think it's pretty clear that articles like this art part of the buzz.
posted by Potsy at 12:55 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


desperately needs a prettier star than Taylor Kitsch

Really? I only know him from Friday Night Lights but he sure didn't look like he'd been hit with the ugly stick in that.
posted by yoink at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Couldn't they at least give Mars a red sky? So that it looked like... Mars? Would that have killed them? The scene on Mars could have come from any swords-n-sandals epic and made just as much sense (I'm okay with him being able to breathe because otherwise it would be a short movie, but at least act like you are trying).
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 12:56 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I plan on renting this when it comes out, mostly because it's John Carter of Mars and has decent-looking four-armed Martins. But I'm also not expecting much because it's a goddam DISNEY flick (Pirate's nonwithstanding).
posted by Old'n'Busted at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2012


The point upthread about Gor echoes what I was thinking. I read some of the John Carter books when I was a kid. I read anything when I was a kid. I really don't see why the producers didn't go all the way and make a Gor themed movie. Well I guess I do but then why would they make a John Carter movie?
posted by rdr at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2012


I think they gambled on the fact that not titling it as an overt science fiction movie would net them a bigger audience.

They probably should have lightened up on the alien princesses and time travel and Tim Riggins with a longbow in space in the trailers, then, huh?
posted by Snarl Furillo at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Maybe it's got something to do with the shitty and formulaic way movie trailers are thrown together. They could probably re-edit the trailer and have people agree that they might see it.
posted by Liquidwolf at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2012


I can tell a good joke. Maybe tell a good story from time to time. I know nothing about making big movies. Zero. Zip. Nada.
But I don't know how I could screw up a character and series that's been serialized in a variety of media for over 100 years with $200 million in my pocket.

The people who make this stuff, they are professionals, right? I mean, it's their job isn't it?

Andrew Stanton has some stuff to say on it:
I couldn’t correct the whole screwed up process of live-action movie making, but that’s certainly on my agenda someday.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:57 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I hate when this kind of thing happens. I like genre sci fi pictures, and I like blockbusters. I('m the perfect target audience for this and, even before I'd read any of the troubled press I could tell this thing stinks on hot ice. Something about the sweaty grubby beautiful guy and his bad costume reminds me of the old Sid and Marty Kroft Land of the Lost. This thing deserves to lose $100 million.

But why couldn't they see that coming?
posted by dirtdirt at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2012


Disney must be having some kind of identity crisis if they can't make money humping corpses from the public domain anymore.
posted by murphy slaw at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2012 [20 favorites]


Uh, I think it's pretty clear that articles like this art part of the buzz.

No studio wants advance stories about a movie being the biggest flop of all time. Stories about the budget going wildly over are one thing. Stories about how no one wants to see the film are something else altogether. The "OMG, it's a legendary flop" thing can actually snowball into an almost gleeful refusal on the audience's part to attend the film.
posted by yoink at 12:58 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I really don't see why the producers didn't go all the way and make a Gor themed movie.

Yeah, that one died on the vine as soon as the Focus Group Research came back...
posted by mikelieman at 1:00 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]




didn't look like he'd been hit with the ugly stick

How come you never hear about the ugly trees? You'd think someone would come up with a way to get rid of them. Even tree huggers couldn't complain about deforresting the ugly trees. Well, they might, but who could stand to look at them after they've been hugging the ugly trees for so long?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Oh man oh man this is all I've ever wanted

Sorry to be the one to tell you this but there's still going to be an hour of scenes where one alien tells the human why fighting other aliens is really important
posted by theodolite at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2012


The trailers are horrible. Just horrible. They're going to need amazing word of mouth and amazing reviews to overcome the trailers.

Maybe if it's in 3D?
posted by Fizz at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?

You see this all the time...The unending drive in Hollywood to adapt from existing works, because hey, built-in audience & name recognition, while simultaneously being terrified of that built-in audience being the only audience, and thus cutting themselves off from any fidelity or attachment to their source in the first place.
posted by anazgnos at 1:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


That movie looks terrible.
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:07 PM on February 17, 2012


The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?

You see this all the time...


Godfather III was originally Revenge of the Nerds. True story.
posted by Fizz at 1:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


The unending drive in Hollywood to adapt from existing works, because hey, built-in audience & name recognition, while simultaneously being terrified of that built-in audience being the only audience, and thus cutting themselves off from any fidelity or attachment to their source in the first place.

And the ongoing Hollywood gang-rape of the Seuss legacy continues apace.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I would pay to see a 3D movie adaptation of Jesus on Mars
posted by KokuRyu at 1:10 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Godfather III was originally Revenge of the Nerds. True story.

Pfft. Shut up.

*Googles*

Ok, fine. But I'm pretty sure that was just Coppola's working title.
posted by Smedleyman at 1:11 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Taylor Kitsch is a handsome man, and whoever the lady is who plays the Princess of Mars is an attractive woman, but holy crap the costume, hairstyle, and makeup designers for this movie did their level best to make them both look uggums.

Everything about this movie just seems like a colossally bad decision. That said, I said the same about Titanic (true story--it also had crap trailers, and I didn't think people would buy DiCaprio as a leading man) so what do I know?
posted by Sidhedevil at 1:12 PM on February 17, 2012


Never mind this... when is HBO/Showtime going to do a 3 season adaptation of Red/Green/Blue Mars?
posted by PenDevil at 1:13 PM on February 17, 2012 [18 favorites]




Speaking of which, where's my fucking Chronicles of Amber miniseries, SyFy?
posted by griphus at 1:16 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Re: the jumping through the air shots that people seem to hate.

It looks like the filmmakers tried to include lots of shots based on Frank Frazetta's illustrations for A Princess of Mars.

That said, I think everyone in the trailer looks a little... I don't know... thin. Feeble. Un-amazonian.
posted by hanoixan at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2012


Why would you want SyFy to do a hack job on Chronicles of Amber?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Speaking of which, where's my fucking Chronicles of Amber miniseries, SyFy?

SyFy: Fanboys living the dream since 2007
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2012


Speaking of which, where's my fucking Chronicles of Amber miniseries, SyFy?

Good God, man, pipe down. They might hear you.
posted by murphy slaw at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


(and I say that with affection)
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:20 PM on February 17, 2012


You're telling me a movie with a bland title such as John Carter isn't stirring buzz? Is it too late to title it Jeremy Lin? I saw the preview with my girlfriend on TV and had mild netflix-style interest up until the "DISNEY" over the title at the end. That's two strikes, and in my world, you only need one strike for me to decide to sit home and not spend $13 at the theater.

If they wanted to attract women to the movie, title it Tim Riggins and be done with it.
posted by yeti at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


The trailers are horrible. Just horrible. They're going to need amazing word of mouth and amazing reviews to overcome the trailers.
If a movie is good, you should be able to cut a good trailer. Come on. You should even be able to cut a good trailer for a bad movie, if you're careful.
The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?
It makes a lot of sense. The movie is from Disney and more then anyone Disney has tried to brand "Princess" as a specific thing. This movie isn't supposed to be for people who like 'Disney princess' movies.

"John Carter" is a terrible name, though. It's completely meaningless. They should have called it "The battle of Mars" or "The last human on Mars"

The other problem though is the term "mars" The book was written before we knew what mars was like. Today we think think of the images from viking and pathfinder. In the book (and I assume the movie) they call it Barsoom. Maybe they should have just called the movie Barsoom?

Anyway it's ironic. Disney built their empire exploiting the public domain. Now through their legislative antics, they've drained the public domain and there isn't much to pick from anymore that's still current. Science fiction from the turn of the century isn't going to be as relevant to people who have a hundred years knowledge (or even the general public level of scientifically literature)

But yeah "John Carter" says zero about the movie. It just makes no sense. It seems like execs at Disney took smoked a bunch of weed and decided to cash in on the popularity of Avatar, without understanding at all what made it popular (The fact that 3D the latest 3D trend was just starting, rather then dying was a major factor)
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Reminds me of the buzz before Avatar came out.
posted by bonobothegreat at 1:21 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


In a week or two, they'll re-name it just "John".
posted by potch at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Someone in the Deadline comments suggest they rename it "John".
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Dammit!
posted by Artw at 1:23 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


They should rename it to Damnit!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Then "Jon".
posted by yeti at 1:24 PM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Can someone explain what "early tracking" is? The whole first sentence makes no sense to me.

Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney Studios‘ John Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice..."

Is this data gleaned from twitter or something?
I too would like to know what this means... is there someone from the Executive Class who can tell us peons what?
posted by Auz at 1:25 PM on February 17, 2012


You see this all the time...The unending drive in Hollywood to adapt from existing works, because hey, built-in audience & name recognition, while simultaneously being terrified of that built-in audience being the only audience, and thus cutting themselves off from any fidelity or attachment to their source in the first place.

See "The Lorax".
I saw the trailer for that last night and damn near cried.
posted by Seamus at 1:28 PM on February 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


I think they may have done better to play up the pulp aspect in the trailers, as well as the Tarzan connection. Make it a retro science fiction thing.

Right now it comes off as "Conan and Aliens".
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


griphus: "Speaking of shitty CGI, I watched Total Recall (for the ten thousandth time) a little while ago and, man, is anyone important doing special effects with miniatures and animatronics and so on anymore?"

Hellboy 2 had some great animatronics work. Some neat stuff was done for the Thing prequel, but apparently the studio demanded more CGI. Tragic. Other than that, I can't think of much.

Miniatures are still used, but they seem to be limited to the truly big-budget movies these days. Not sure though.
posted by brundlefly at 1:31 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


If they wanted to attract women to the movie, title it Tim Riggins and be done with it.

I would totally see a movie called Tim Riggins In Space.
posted by elizardbits at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?

To draw in the ever-growing "confused ER fan" demographic hoping it's a movie about this guy and not about space monsters or whatever.
posted by infinitywaltz at 1:32 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


The name change makes no damn sense. Why throw away the name recognition when adapting a pulp classic?

Problems: franchise has limited name recognition; little-known lead; faces uphill battle with female audience.

Solution: Change the title from "John Carter of Mars" to "John Carter."
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


And by "See 'The Lorax"" the very last thing I ever would have meant by that was "Watch the Movie" because . . . oh god, no!
posted by Seamus at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2012


Can someone explain what "early tracking" is? The whole first sentence makes no sense to me.

Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney Studios‘ John Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice..."


Here's my stab at it (let me know if I'm not making sense):

"Unaided" is "unaided awareness", meaning that the pollster asked something like "Any upcoming movies you're interested in?" and got "John Carter" from 2% of people. "53 aware" means that if the pollster said "What about John Carter, do you know that that's a movie?" 53% of people had heard of it. 27% definitely interested, but only 3% picked it as their first choice.

These are pretty shitty numbers for a huge tentpole.

Writing movies is my dumb job, and I am currently so depressed about the state of things I can't even talk about it. There are MANY problems with Hollywood, but one of the problems is that movies now cost so much to market (in part because it's a dumb circular problem where only a huge worldwide hit is considered worthwhile because movies cost so much to market) that if it looks like you're movie is failing, you as the studio have nothing to lose. So you just dump money on it. Millions upon millions of dollars. (See: Tron.)

So JOHN CARTER is basically a kind of crappy movie that cost way, way too much, but Disney (like most studios) now makes so few movies that it will keep doubling down on marketing costs, pumping more and more money into the ad machine until you can be pretty sure that Disney will buy #1 for its opening weekend for this movie.

Global markets are huge. Even with the downturn in home video, almost all studio movies make money. It's the big secret. Totally shitty bombs make their money back. So my theory is that studios have basically zero incentive to make more movies or take some interesting risks, or make movies that aren't sequels or based on fairytales, or basically give a shit about film or how audiences feel about film. They do whatever they want, and hey, it would be great if it were a huge hit, but even if not, a couple of people will go see it, a couple more will buy it on DVD, they're printing money over there.

Plus, studios are part of huge vertically-integrated multinationals, so your movie company making tons of money with smart choices doesn't really matter, the money gets siphoned off to the microwave division.

There are also a lot of weird internal politics at movies that mean that even something that factually is kind of a bomb, like Tron, needs to be "a success" to prop up that regime. So you will for sure see a sequel.

Disney in particular is a weird case, because most of their money does not actually come from movies, it comes from merchandise. They call it "the franchise". Pirates is just a machine to generate lunchbox sales.

Like I said, fucking depressing.
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:33 PM on February 17, 2012 [37 favorites]


John Carter (Antonio Sabato Jr.) is some kind of lone soldier in the middle east who looks at everyone through the scope on his rifle, until one day he gets shot a bunch of times and the government decides to reconstruct him on another planet for some reason. Naked and surrounded by hostile aliens, John Carter must fight for survival as aliens try to kill him and/or make him eat bugs. John Carter does NOT WANT TO EAT BUGS.

I wish Disney had thrown $300 million to make a movie at the author of this description.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:34 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Pirates is just a machine to generate lunchbox sales.

They need to learn to make better lunch boxes.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mars is death to space probes and to movies.

All these worlds are yours,
Except Mars
Attempt no movies nor landing there
Use them together
Use them in peace
Burma Shave
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


Interesting-ish Wired puff piece here:

There are parts of our planet so stark, so bizarre in their topography, that it’s easy to imagine they’re alien landscapes. Today Andrew Stanton is determined to exploit the unearthly vibes of just such a place." -

From the trailer, he did not succeed.
posted by Artw at 1:36 PM on February 17, 2012


You're gonna need a better lunchbox.
posted by shakespeherian at 1:37 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the ongoing Hollywood gang-rape of the Seuss legacy continues apace.

This saddens me tremendously.

I'm not trying to be all "Universal-Pictures-raped-my-childhood" or anything, but holy fuck. I mean, way to go, turning a sweet, sad, and simple fable into a steaming pile of commercialized shit.

I thought Mrs. Geisel wasn't going to allow this to happen anymore after what happened to Cat in the Hat and Grinch.
posted by Ratio at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Artw: “I'm thinking the unholy combination of a generic name and a trailer that's basically a CGI blur of nothingness means that most people don't know what the hell it even is.”

Also, maybe I'm alone in this, but the very first thing I saw when I saw the trailer for this in the theater was something dizzyingly similar to one of these, and that familiar sense of revulsion washed over me.

I actually kind of want to see John Carter now that I know it's an Edgar Rice Burroughs adaptation.
posted by koeselitz at 1:39 PM on February 17, 2012


When I think of movies that relate to Gor, this Italian "classic" comes to mind.

CABOT!
posted by stannate at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


If this crashes and burns, then we're never going to see a film version of Bradbury's Martian Chronicles in our lifetimes...

...is what I what I was going to write before I did my fact checking and discovered that in 1988 a bunch of Armenians adapted Chronicles as Тринадцатый апостол ("The Thirteenth Apostle"). So that's some comfort, anyway.
posted by Iridic at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2012


Some neat stuff was done for the Thing prequel, but apparently the studio demanded more CGI. Tragic. Other than that, I can't think of much.

I saw the prequel recently. If you start me on the subject of what is bad about it I would not stop for a while. But these are the two things:

1) No sense of pacing. It's a big old rush to get you to seeing a monster, with occasional pauses for info-dumps from the lady-character, who has clearly read the Wikipedia page for The Thing.
2) When you see a monster, it's basically a videogame character escaped from Dead Space or one of the Resident Evil games.

There are actually one or two neat touches to the film, but none of the action works, there;s zero suspense, and the whole thing is basically pointless.
posted by Artw at 1:40 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ratio: "I'm not trying to be all "Universal-Pictures-raped-my-childhood" or anything, but holy fuck. I mean, way to go, turning a sweet, sad, and simple fable into a steaming pile of commercialized shit."

What's really getting me about that movie (The Lorax) is that the one joke that seems to be in all of the ads involves a large, angry woman being insufficiently feminine. I cringe every time I see it.
posted by brundlefly at 1:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [10 favorites]


If this crashes and burns, then we're never going to see a film version of Bradbury's Martian Chronicles in our lifetimes...

I've seen some attempted adaptations. I have to say that the Martian Chronicles just don't adapt to the screen very well.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:46 PM on February 17, 2012


I thought Mrs. Geisel wasn't going to allow this to happen anymore after what happened to Cat in the Hat and Grinch.

After she licensed Grinch to hawk Visa credit cards?

"I blame the widow Seuss" is a running line in my house.
posted by Trurl at 1:46 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Artw: "There are actually one or two neat touches to the film, but none of the action works, there;s zero suspense, and the whole thing is basically pointless."

Yeah. At a certain point it was just a big beast stalking the heroes through dark hallways. When I squinted and pretended the movie had a different title, I sort of enjoyed it as a mediocre creature feature.
posted by brundlefly at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2012


I do wonder at what kind of hole it leaves if/when it crashes and burns. I'd say the death of big budget SF that's not a franchise extension or based on a toy, but that's pretty much dead already.

Hell, even toys are fairing badly...
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on February 17, 2012


"Universal-Pictures-raped-my-childhood"

I thought we had moved on from using the heavily-baggaged word "rape" for this.

Although I must admit a fondness for "Universal-Pictures-Touched-My-Childhood-Inappropriately".
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2012 [14 favorites]


artw: Yeah, the classic problem with CGI vs. models - CGI costs a lot, so people feel compelled to show the monster from all angles, when in the model days you'd be pulling all kinds of quick cuts and lighting and camera trickery in a way that plays on fear of the unknown and psychic fill-in-the-blanks. CGI works best when you can't tell it's there, but who's gonna pay for that?
posted by murphy slaw at 1:49 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


At a certain point it was just a big beast stalking the heroes through dark hallways.

Exactly! An oddly regular, designed looking beast. There was none of the squicky cancerous spontaneity of the mutation of the Carpenter thing, this shit all looked like Todd MacFarlane designed it.

The face-merger beast was particularly ridiculous.
posted by Artw at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2012


This is why I watch about 2 Hollywood movies a year and spend the rest of my time on Channel 101.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2012


[derail] I just want us all to stop and consider the fact that we can look at this trailer and complain (sincerely) about the CGI. Then, think back to the mid-90s.

You've come along way, baby.
posted by LMGM at 1:51 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'd say the death of big budget SF that's not a franchise extension or based on a toy, but that's pretty much dead already.

Unless you're James Cameron.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:52 PM on February 17, 2012


You've come along way, baby.

Counter-point: Jurassic Park.
posted by Artw at 1:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've got the movie name thing covered. Change it to John Carter: A Princess of Mars. It'll outrage a segment of the population into demanding the movie be boycotted, and apparently any press this movie can get could only help.
posted by never used baby shoes at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


And the ongoing Hollywood gang-rape of the Seuss legacy continues apace.
What the holy fuck? I assumed they were going to just do a movie version of the story, but instead they've taken a story about deforestation and environmental catastrophe and turned it into some sappy feel-good bullshit?
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:54 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]




I wished they had gone with the Kerry Conran version (Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow).

Trailer here
posted by Nyrath at 1:55 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I was going to go see it for Tim Riggins but that trailer is horrible. I wish they would stop making CGI-dependent movies until they can get CGI to actually look good.
posted by something something at 1:56 PM on February 17, 2012


I watched Batman Forever a few weeks ago, and man that CGI has aged poorly. City-scape shots. Not even character animation.

Jurassic Park still looks good because the CG was used judiciously and in conjunction with animatronics. If they had tried to go full CG, it would not have been pretty.
posted by brundlefly at 1:58 PM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


I watched Batman Forever a few weeks ago, and man that CGI has aged poorly. City-scape shots. Not even character animation.

Haha so did I. Although I think that added to the campiness. Also: holy sequined leotard with implications I totally missed when I was 10, Batman.
posted by griphus at 2:03 PM on February 17, 2012


Jurassic Park still looks good because the CG was used judiciously and in conjunction with animatronics. If they had tried to go full CG, it would not have been pretty.

JP (the first one, at least) also had an awesome story. And it was tasteful.

One of the extremely pleasant things about JP was how judiciously they gave the dinos screen time. As with horror movies/thrillers, part of the magic came from not always seeing a dinosaur on the screen. There were periods of the movie to breathe, take in the landscape, and not quite know when a dino would show up, or which one. And the scene where all the Gallimimus run by takes my breath away, because it's a rare and naturalistic example of "a herd of things." CG effects in movies now always do the "whole bunch of things!" gimmick, like Indiana Jones 4, with a whole bunch of monkeys or ants or whatever.

I haven't any of the sequels, so maybe they ended up doing this, but -- I imagine that if they were to "reboot" Jurassic Park today, there would just be a constant onslaught of dinosaurs flying at the screen (in 3D! no doubt), without even a minute to catch your breath.

One T. rex?! WHY NOT MAKE IT FIVE HUNDRED TEE REXES! NOW WE'RE MOVIEMAKING!
posted by overeducated_alligator at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


For my money, Geoff Ryman has already given us the best possible take on the cinematic John Carter of Mars story.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I generally contrast unrealistic CGI complaints to my father's disinterest in seeing The Shadow because no film depiction could ever live up to the visuals in his imagination while listening to the radio version.

Modern CGI suffers from trying too hard. It wanders into the uncanny valley when people would be just as happy (if not happier) to fill in details themselves.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 2:07 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


You're gonna need a better lunchbox.

We was comin' back from the planet Barsoom... just delivered a bomb. The John Carter bomb. Two hundred and fifty million dollars went into the drink. Disney went down in 12 days. Didn't see the first suit for about a half an hour. Marketing hack. Fresh MBA. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the hair product to the PDA. What we didn't know, was our movie had been so underrated, no distress signal had been sent. They didn't even list us as a flop for a month before release. Very first light, Chief, suits come cruisin', so we formed ourselves into tight focus groups. You know, it was kinda like old squares in the battle like you see in the calendar named "The Battle of Heaven's Gate" and the idea was: suit comes to the nearest man, that man he starts pointin' and hollerin' and deflectin' and sometimes the suit will go away... but sometimes he wouldn't go away. Sometimes that suit he looks right into ya. Right into your eyes. And, you know, the thing about a suit... he's got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll's eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn't seem to be living... until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then... ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin'. The ledgers turn red, and despite all the pointin' and hollerin' , they all come in and they... rip you to pieces. You know by the end of that first dawn, lost a hundred million. I don't know how many suits, maybe a thousand. I know how many dollars, they averaged six hundred thousand an hour. On Thursday morning, Chief, I bumped into a friend of mine, Herbie Robinson from Cleveland. Key grip. I thought he was retired. I reached over to congratulate him. He sobbed, totally under water just like a kinda dead fish. Upended. Well, he'd been vested just that afternoon. Noon, the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a venture capitalist saw us. He swung in low and he saw us... he was a young gun, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later a big fat Happy Meal toy contract comes down and tries to pick us up. You know that was the time I was most frightened... waitin' for the residuals. I'll never work CGI again. So, Two hundred and fifty million dollars went into production; 316 dollars come out and the suits took the rest. Anyway, we delivered a bomb.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:09 PM on February 17, 2012 [32 favorites]


Re: the jumping through the air shots that people seem to hate.

It looks like the filmmakers tried to include lots of shots based on Frank Frazetta's illustrations for A Princess of Mars.


And besides that, John Carter having supermartian strength in the lower gravity of Mars (at least they knew that much in 1911) and being able to leap thirty feet in the air is part of the story.
posted by XMLicious at 2:11 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


For my money, Geoff Ryman has already given us the best possible take on the cinematic John Carter of Mars story.

Really awesome story, that. Audio version.
posted by Artw at 2:14 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


overeducated_alligator: "One T. rex?! WHY NOT MAKE IT FIVE HUNDRED TEE REXES! NOW WE'RE MOVIEMAKING!"

The sequels never got quite that bad, but Jurassic Park 3 introduced Spinosaurus, which was BIGGER and AWESOMER than T. rex and KICKED T. REX'S ASS... even though in real life it probably ate fish. As I understand it. Not that I obsess over these things.
posted by brundlefly at 2:14 PM on February 17, 2012


[derail] I just want us all to stop and consider the fact that we can look at this trailer and complain (sincerely) about the CGI. Then, think back to the mid-90s.

You've come along way, baby.


No, I complained about it then, too.
posted by emjaybee at 2:17 PM on February 17, 2012


I really want to see this, so here's hoping it stays in the theater for a little while! (Hopefully long enough to play in 2D.) Haven't seen the trailers or read any spoilers, but I read the novel about a year ago and it's... a strange story. The best character by far is Dejah Thoris. She has the most distinctive voice and drives all the significant action. If it wasn't for her, John Carter would have remained a Thark warlord and probably been murdered long before he could find his way home. Lynn Collins seems kind of young for the role to me, but hopefully she's a great actress.

As for John Carter himself, that's going to be a tough part to play! Carter is supposed to be a 19th century hero, but he's really quite the monster, a guy who's willing to commit mass murder for love. The book makes him sympathetic (more or less), by putting him in an endless string of strange situations and terrible ordeals that he has to fight his way through, so there's never much time to stop and think about how awful the guy is. Hopefully the movie will do the same.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:18 PM on February 17, 2012


I think they gambled on the fact that not titling it as an overt science fiction movie would net them a bigger audience.

I think you're right, but I don't understand why they'd do this. Sci-fi movies aren't exactly some sort of fringe genre that no one watches. They haven't been since about 1977.
posted by asnider at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Jurassic Park 3 introduced Spinosaurus, which was BIGGER and AWESOMER than T. rex and KICKED T. REX'S ASS... even though in real life it probably ate fish.

Behold! The fearsome Velociraptor.
posted by Artw at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


Haha so did I. Although I think that added to the campiness. Also: holy sequined leotard with implications I totally missed when I was 10, Batman.

Okay you just need to explain this to me. Because even though you and LMGM may hate your brain cells I still need what's left of mine, so I'm not going to go watch Batman Forever in order to figure out specifically what you mean. The sequined leotard was Thurman as Poison Ivy right?
posted by phearlez at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2012


NOW YOU SEE? BEHOLD THE DETRITUS OF DETRITUS (AVATAR).

I'll probably watch it when it hits dvd.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:19 PM on February 17, 2012


there doesn't seem to be even any sort of attempt to have a story - it's just this human fighting aliens.

Well, to be fair that is pretty much what the JCoM books are.
posted by edgeways at 2:20 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It's an interesting parallel; our track record for exploring the planet via dramatic film is as bad as exploring the actual planet.

Even as we celebrate the occasional success, it's surface and ours is gradually being littered with write-offs.
posted by CynicalKnight at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2012


There is also kissing!
posted by Artw at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2012


There was none of the squicky cancerous spontaneity of the mutation of the Carpenter thing, this shit all looked like Todd MacFarlane designed it.

FWIW, Isolation was a much better creature feature with a Thing-esque vibe. No shape-shifting, but they had a much better handle on mood, setting, and practical effects.
posted by Sticherbeast at 2:21 PM on February 17, 2012


The best thing I learned by reading about this movie is that The Hunger Games (trailer) is coming out two weeks later. Now THAT looks like it could be a good movie.
posted by Bort at 2:22 PM on February 17, 2012


It's an interesting parallel; our track record for exploring the planet via dramatic film is as bad as exploring the actual planet.

Mars Attacks really shouldn't be in this company.
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on February 17, 2012


First things first :“Not good... ” a senior exec at a rival studio emails me. Another writes me, ”...This could be the biggest writeoff of all time.” Sloppy reporting. Anonymous rival studio execs criticizing a movie? If I was at any rival studio, I would LOVE this chance to trash-talk the competition.

Second, I consider this a live-action Pixar film. It's Lasseter-backed and directed by Finding Nemo's and WALL-E's Andrew Stanton. You know what other movies had weird/generic premises and crappy trailers that made me question whether they would be any good? Finding Nemo and WALL-E. Both of which I loved.

You'll notice that the criticism is that there is no buzz, but that's better than bad buzz. And of people who have reportedly seen it, it's epic.

I trust these men with this classic as much as I trust Jackson with The Hobbit.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:22 PM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


No studio wants advance stories about a movie being the biggest flop of all time.

I remember a movie called Gargantua or something from about 15 years ago. The way they talked about it, it had just about bankrupted the studio, but in the end they made out okay. think the director came out with a new one, recently.
posted by vhsiv at 2:23 PM on February 17, 2012


Artw: "Behold! The fearsome Velociraptor."

I still think Deinonychus would have been a better choice.
posted by brundlefly at 2:28 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Maybe it's got something to do with the shitty and formulaic way movie trailers are thrown together.

It's downright Kubrickian. Maybe they treated the 'blind rage' brain response they got as 'excitement'. I still hold out hope for the actual movie.

Also: is 50 % of that $250m spent on marketing? Probably. But if not, Andrew Stanton is talking about $1b/movie if he wants 4x the number of reshoots.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 2:28 PM on February 17, 2012


I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if Disney can fuck up A Wrinkle in Time, they should not be trusted with anything, ever.
posted by dbiedny at 2:34 PM on February 17, 2012


Anyway it's ironic. Disney built their empire exploiting the public domain.

That in itself is amazingly ironic.
posted by Grangousier at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2012


griphus: "Speaking of which, where's my fucking Chronicles of Amber miniseries, SyFy?"

I want an Amber movie (or movies) desperately. But not a Siffy version. So hush.
posted by Splunge at 2:36 PM on February 17, 2012


"Mars? What is Mars? This is the planet Bars…………soom."
posted by Nomyte at 2:37 PM on February 17, 2012


griphus: "Speaking of shitty CGI, I watched Total Recall (for the ten thousandth time) a little while ago and, man, is anyone important doing special effects with miniatures and animatronics and so on anymore?"

How did you see that already, it doesn't come out until August.
posted by octothorpe at 2:37 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Strangely dressed Earthmen may call it Mars, but it's always been Barsoom.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:39 PM on February 17, 2012


Artw: "Jurassic Park 3 introduced Spinosaurus, which was BIGGER and AWESOMER than T. rex and KICKED T. REX'S ASS... even though in real life it probably ate fish.

Behold! The fearsome Velociraptor.
"

Have you ever been bitten by a parrot? Fearsome indeed.
posted by Splunge at 2:40 PM on February 17, 2012


Parrots have BEAKS. This thing has a bill. It's a fucking duck.
posted by Artw at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This:
almost all studio movies make money. It's the big secret. Totally shitty bombs make their money back.
seems to be almost diametrically opposed to this:
So my theory is that studios have basically zero incentive to make more movies
It's possible that Hollywood doesn't see "printing money" as an incentive, but I think they're too greedy for that. It's possible that "almost all studio movies make money" because they've taken all the good ideas and all the ones they pass on would lose money, but I think they're too incompetent for that. Is it a cartel problem? The studios think they've saturated the viewing public (so each new $50 million dollar movie takes $1 million of revenue away from 50 other movies) and there's a conspiracy between all of them to hold production down and avoid that?
posted by roystgnr at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2012


A dinosaur duck!
posted by Splunge at 2:42 PM on February 17, 2012


With teeth.
posted by Splunge at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2012


That bill clearly has sharp teeth.
posted by jabberjaw at 2:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think what thehmsbeagle is saying is the studios prefer to make one 250 million dollar movie instead of five 50 million dollar ones. They can justify spending more and more money on marketing until that one big movie makes a profit, whereas five smaller movies would each be a separate risk. It's a boom or bust economy, instead of something more sustainable where a steady stream of smaller movies make smaller profits.
posted by Kevin Street at 2:50 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


NOW WE'RE MOVIEMAKING!

This is my new go-to phrase for when things go horribly wrong.
posted by griphus at 2:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


They should have called it "The battle of Mars" or "The last human on Mars"

Disney Marketing Presents: 4000 Feet of Film.

Coming Soon to your popcorn stadium.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:57 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, if the movie is a stinker... spend that dough on the real deal. (full disclosure, I did the book design on the LOA edition and I hope a weak movie doesn't scare people away from the source material.)
posted by JBennett at 3:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


....and desperately needs a prettier star than Taylor Kitsch.

Perhaps this was sarcasm, but anybody 'prettier than Taylor Kitsch' would have to actually be female.
posted by Flashman at 3:03 PM on February 17, 2012


Anything the size of a Doberman, has teeth, is a carnivore, and live and hunt in packs, is something I wouldn't simply call a duck.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who claims that Hollywood films are terrible pretty clearly does not watch SyFy.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:04 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


You ain't seen the ducks around here, have you?
posted by murphy slaw at 3:05 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anything the size of a Doberman, has teeth, is a carnivore, and live and hunt in packs, is something I wouldn't simply call a duck.

I'll bet you would if it told you to.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


One thing about Barsoom is it's got lots and lots of kickass monsters. If the film gets them right then it'll be golden.
posted by Kevin Street at 3:06 PM on February 17, 2012


> How did you see that already, it doesn't come out until August.

What, Fuck.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'll bet you would if it told you to.

Only if it walked and talked like one.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:09 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Lorax made me cry in the school auditorium when I was six or seven years old. And they're going to turn it into some sort of shiny wacky CGI adventure? "the enduring power of hope" indeed. (And for my money, it was a story about the possibility that everything could actually be totally and permanently fucked up. Thus the crying.)

OTOH, I just discovered that there's an ebook of Princess of Mars available at my local library. So, something new to download to my tablet? Score!
posted by epersonae at 3:16 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


griphus: "Speaking of shitty CGI, I watched Total Recall (for the ten thousandth time) a little while ago and, man, is anyone important doing special effects with miniatures and animatronics and so on anymore?"

Moon was done with miniatures and physical sets, plus minimal CGI. Not coincidentally, it may also be the best sci-fi movie of the past twenty years.

Writing movies is my dumb job, and I am currently so depressed about the state of things I can't even talk about it. There are MANY problems with Hollywood, but one of the problems is that movies now cost so much to market (in part because it's a dumb circular problem where only a huge worldwide hit is considered worthwhile because movies cost so much to market) that if it looks like you're movie is failing, you as the studio have nothing to lose. So you just dump money on it. Millions upon millions of dollars. (See: Tron.)

The original Tron was a famous flop, but Tron: Legacy actually did OK despite wildly unrealistic over-marketing, especially when you include soundtrack, merchandising, and DVD/Blu-Ray sales. It wasn't the massive blockbuster Disney was hoping for, but I wouldn't be surprised to see them go for Tron 3.
posted by vorfeed at 3:18 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Fountain:

One of Aronofsky's primary ambitions was to create outer-space environments without using CGI, and he succeeded brilliantly with the help of a microphotographer in England named Peter Parks who lives in a 400-year-old cowshed and created luminous, Blake-like visions of exploding nebulae for "The Fountain" using curry powder, baby oil, shrimp larvae, and other wacky substances, magnifying them with a device called the microzoom optical bench that employs both Victorian prisms and state-of-the-art digital cameras.
posted by 1970s Antihero at 3:24 PM on February 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I stand by my assertion that Taylor Kitsch is not pretty enough to carry this movie. At least, judging by the trailer. I mean look at him. No, look. Would it kill him to shave? Oh I get it, it's Mars and he's a prisoner, no razor. So why does he have this scraggly little 15 year old's scruff? Weird patchy chest hair. Fleshy body. Stringy head hair. Ick. I'll give him the cheekbones and the red lips, but the rest of the package? Meh.

FWIW, my touchstone for pretty boys making movies work is Orlando Bloom as the porn elf of Lord of the Rings. Or DiCaprio in Titanic, but his acting skill carried that as much as his looks.
posted by Nelson at 3:38 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would totally see a movie called Tim Riggins In Space.

Dammit...I was just coming in here to say that.

I am at least somewhat the target audience for this movie - other than being female, I mean - I LOVE science fiction movies, good and bad, I especially love Martian science fiction movies (even excrescences like Mission to Mars and Red Planet), I like Taylor Kitsch (as an actor) and even so...they somehow managed to make this film just look dull. It can't just be the trailer, but yawn. Plus, the "Disney" logo often spells "boring" to me. I'll probably see it anyway, but I don't have high hopes.
posted by biscotti at 3:40 PM on February 17, 2012


If anything, Taylor Kitsch looks too pretty to play Carter. It's been a while since I've read the books, but I never imagined him as a Tiger Beat poster-boy.
posted by brundlefly at 3:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


I actually hope it's a huge success and then we get a Jirel of Jory movie. I would pay my $18 (more for 3D dear God!) to watch that, oh yes I would. While I'm dreaming, let's get an HBO Fafhrd and Gray Mouser while we're at it please, thank you.
posted by smoke at 3:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


The Hunger Games (trailer) is coming out two weeks later. Now THAT looks like it could be a good movie.

The Running Man was a great movie: "Who loves you, and who do you love?"

And they are remaking Total Recall as well? It is like 1987 all over again.
Technically, Total Recall was from 1990, it is Predator and Running Man that came out in the same year
posted by Chuckles at 3:53 PM on February 17, 2012


I read this when I was a kid. I would like to see what I envisioned as a kid -- or what any kid envisioned while reading this -- on the screen. Everything else, frankly, would disappoint.

I'm sure I'm blocking on a lot of dicey race-related themes.
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 3:57 PM on February 17, 2012


So I hear this Carter movie is going to make peanuts.
posted by stinkycheese at 3:57 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kokoryu: I would pay to see a 3D movie adaptation of Jesus on Mars

Look, I already told you: there will NOT be a movie made from "Stranger in a Strange Land," OK?
posted by wenestvedt at 4:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


>If they called it 'A Princess of Mars' you'd pull in women automatically, I'd think.

They were beaten to it by a mockbuster.


This mockbuster, the one that charred husk described above, I've seen it.

Hey, wonder who made it? Huh? Huh? Take a guess! From the people who brought us Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus, it's sequel Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus starring Jaleel White, Sharktopus, Two-Headed Shark Attack, Mega-Piranha, and no doubt other tales of undersea monsters, as well as The Day The Earth Stopped, Transmorphers, I Am Omega, 10,000 BC starring Dad From Family Ties, and many others: The Asylum.

The Asylum's version of A Princess of Mars isn't any better. After starting with suspeciously terrestrial action scene, our wounded hero is sent into OUTER SPACE by a couple of inexplicably gloating scientist heads who tell him they're sending him to Mars -- but actually it's a different Mars. He arrives there, fights various flavors of different Martians, rides giant bugs that I informally named "Drebnars" (as in the popular Martian kids' cartoon My Little Drebnar) and does a bunch of other things on-screen that I somehow can't remember, because like most Asylum pictures, it slides so easily out of the lower tract that you find it difficult to believe it was ever there.

But this is a John Carter book it's adapting, right? The series that, in the first book before even thinking about going to Mars, reveals at the start that hero Carter is some kind of immortal superman who's lived through many ages of human history, and who travels to Mars by the expedience of finding a magic cave to sleep in.
posted by JHarris at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just discovered that there's an ebook of Princess of Mars available at my local library

To judge by the ID numbers, ERB's Mars books were among the first few dozen books on Project Gutenburg.
posted by Zed at 4:05 PM on February 17, 2012


who travels to Mars by the expedience of finding a magic cave to sleep in.

Oh, and how would you do it, Mr. Smart Guy?
posted by Zed at 4:07 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anyone who claims that Hollywood films are terrible pretty clearly does not watch SyFy.

I think my previous comment shows that I'm well-acquainted with the movies on that channel. Even so, HOLLYWOOD FILMS ARE TERRIBLE.
posted by JHarris at 4:09 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, and how would you do it, Mr. Smart Guy?

Parcel post.
posted by JHarris at 4:11 PM on February 17, 2012


And they are remaking Total Recall as well? It is like 1987 all over again.

Total Recall = Total Recall

The Running Man = The Hunger Games (?)

Escape from New York = Lockout

House Party = Project X

The 'burbs = Neighborhood Watch

Oh yeah, Judge Dredd = Dredd

Have a nice summer.
posted by jabberjaw at 4:12 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'd be up for a remake of Running Man that was faithful to the book, and then await for all the people to whine how it is just like Hunger Games. I'm also waiting for some errant gamma rays to give me super powers, and odds are that will happen first.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:14 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


It looks like the best parts of a Star Wars prequel spliced together.

So it's just a collection of trailers for other films?

The Hunger Games (trailer)

Sold.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:15 PM on February 17, 2012


"To judge by the ID numbers, ERB's Mars books were among the first few dozen books on Project Gutenburg." Even better!
posted by epersonae at 4:20 PM on February 17, 2012


There are parts of our planet so stark, so bizarre in their topography, that it’s easy to imagine they’re alien landscapes. Today Andrew Stanton is determined to exploit the unearthly vibes of just such a place."

From the trailer, he did not succeed.


No kidding - it doesn't look like Mars, it looks like Nevada. I mean, really, sagebrush? Sure, it's the back of beyond and most filmgoers have never been there, but they've seen it over and over and over in movie after movie and it just doesn't look alien at all.
posted by Mars Saxman at 4:32 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm also waiting for some errant gamma rays to give me super powers, and odds are that will happen first.

I think you're better off hoping for cosmic ray super powers. The gamma ray powers can be...troublesome.
posted by The Tensor at 4:35 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I will be the apparently freakish outlier and say that while I probably won't see this first run, I'd excitedly switch it on the minute that it hit cable. I have no attachment to the source material (my main familiarity with it comes via a few Marvel Comics from the 1970s and some nods in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen), and my own nerdery is more about horror and noir than this sort of sword n' sorcery thing, so I'm not the guy to get outraged over a butchering of the original stories. But it looks and sounds epic, and like there will be punching. It looks like something Jack Kirby would have drawn. (I'm a little surprised he never did.) The long trailer, to me, looks pretty good, actually. I had this same conversation with friends about Avatar a few years ago, as I recall.

On the subject of CGI, yes, it ages horribly. I tried to watch Alien 3 again a couple of years ago, and the only way it works is if the film is set in the far future of the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? universe.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Anyone who claims that Hollywood films are terrible pretty clearly does not watch SyFy.
I think my previous comment shows that I'm well-acquainted with the movies on that channel.


I call B.S. If you were really that acquainted the orderlies wouldn't let you near the computer for fear you would smash the keyboard and use the jagged pieces to slit your wrists.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:44 PM on February 17, 2012


I haven't seen special effects *that* bad since Jumanji... which reminds me: I need to watch Jumanji again.

I heard a rumour that some people in the visual effects community (which is fairly tightly knit) had a bet which involved surreptitiously inserting a 3D model of a garden-gnome-shaped sex toy (a meme in the industry, sort of like a NSFW-if-you-know-what-it-is version of the Utah Teapot) into a CGI film and getting away with it. John Carter Of Mars was mentioned as a film where, some of the people involved in VFX shots, had taken up the challenge, and apparently had some success.

So if you see it, look out for something (it may be an explosion or a rock formation or something else, though it's no less than 100 pixels in size) that looks like this fellow.
posted by acb at 4:58 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


The gamma ray powers can be...troublesome.

Admittedly the Hulk has problems, but I've always thought if you want to become the most powerful being in the universe, you gotta take the good with the bad.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:59 PM on February 17, 2012


I really don't see why the producers didn't go all the way and make a Gor themed movie.

Didn't Cannon Films churn out a low-budget made-in-two-weeks Gor film some time in the late 1980s?
posted by acb at 5:04 PM on February 17, 2012


There are at least two Gor movies in fact. One of them has been featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, as Outlaw (based on Outlaw of Gor), starring Jack Palance! It's notable for containing more human skin per frame than perhaps any other movie MST has done, including all the Hercules movies. It inspired both the song "Tubular Boobular Joy" and the end segment of "buffalo shots." Despite/because of this, it's one of the better episodes.
posted by JHarris at 5:13 PM on February 17, 2012


There's only one way to save this film. Let people go see it with PhoBWanKenobi's mother. I know that's the only way I'd go.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:14 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


Oh, gosh I hope the naysayers get it wrong, I loved this on the first read, but on review it is clearly a fantasy:

In one respect at least the Martians are a happy people; they have no lawyers.

posted by sammyo at 5:16 PM on February 17, 2012


kittens for breakfast: "On the subject of CGI, yes, it ages horribly. I tried to watch Alien 3 again a couple of years ago, and the only way it works is if the film is set in the far future of the Who Framed Roger Rabbit? universe."

There isn't much CG in that, is there? I can only think of the scene where the alien's head is cracking near the end. I think the rest is rod puppets against blue screen.
posted by brundlefly at 5:24 PM on February 17, 2012


(Looks like Alien 3 came out a year before Jurassic Park. There can't be too much CG...)
posted by brundlefly at 5:26 PM on February 17, 2012


WTF did they do to Kashmir??
posted by LordSludge at 5:28 PM on February 17, 2012


There isn't much CG in that, is there? I can only think of the scene where the alien's head is cracking near the end. I think the rest is rod puppets against blue screen.

It sure looks like CG to me -- actually, what it looks like is superimposed line animation. I'm sure it's not. But whatever it is, it looks ridiculous.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:36 PM on February 17, 2012


IIRC, the xenomorph running along the walls was supposed to mind blowingly awesome CGI at the time.
posted by P.o.B. at 5:40 PM on February 17, 2012


I believe it's mostly rotoscoped rod puppets.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:44 PM on February 17, 2012


Someone mentioned The Shadow 1994, so I must note that if you ever see this paean of mediocrity, at the scene where bad guy Tim Curry is finally trapped, during the seconds of silence as he realizes his hopeless predicament, please shout out "Wait, I can explain!"

You should do this even if you are completely alone. Dr Frank must be avenged.
posted by hexatron at 5:57 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


(my main familiarity with it comes via a few Marvel Comics from the 1970s and some nods in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen)

I would kill for a film based on Alan Moore's LoEG Mars stuff. Hell, I'd kill to have him write more comics set there. Burroughs, Wells, Lewis, and Arnold's races and heroes all mixing it up on the Red Planet....

This movie, though - I don't expect it to be a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it looks from the trailer like it could be a nice, solid schlock film. I'll probably go watch it with friends, because even bad movies are fun when you have someone's ear to snicker in.

Also, because I'm curious about some things.

Are they actually going to do the whole Civil-War-veteran-also-immortal-somehow backstory, with the psychic time-traveling and the cave and everything? Or will they go for a modern guy (perhaps a descendant of Carter - or Carter himself in the modern world, being immortal and all)?
And how will they explain a Mars with life on it? Alternate universe? They're going to have to handwave it somehow. Virtually no one reads Burroughs' stuff anymore; the only franchise of his most people are familiar with is Tarzan, so the audience will be scratching their heads throughout. Unless they make "Barsoom" another planet entirely.
posted by AdamCSnider at 6:01 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm also waiting for some errant gamma rays to give me super powers,

Hey, I got bit by a spider just last Friday. I was in bed for days with chills and bone aches. Wall climbing and other tests will be conducted once I'm up to it.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 6:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Does anyone else think it's weird that Led Zeppelin music is being reappropriated as Wagnerian?

What I wondered is how they could drop $250 million and not get the rights to Kashmir. That song was just off enough to piss me off that it wasn't Kashmir, to keep me trying to psychically will it to be Kashmir, that everything else faded away behind my red curtain of rage.

If you are going to play Kashmir, you'd better fucking play Kashmir.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


But I think they wanted the orchestra rather than bowed electric guitar sound.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:37 PM on February 17, 2012


I think my cynicism generator must be broken, I watched a trailer and it looked like it could be an entertaining film.
posted by mediocre at 6:40 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


As an append, I am not the least bit familiar with the books. I understand they are pulpy classics, and as such.. a schlocky film seems fitting.. yesno?
posted by mediocre at 6:41 PM on February 17, 2012


God Gods of Mars, it seems there's this incredible rising wave of people who know nothing about the Barsoom books (or the movie's director, Andrew Stanton) and seem to want to just bash this movie for the sake of bashing it.

It feels as if there'll be people who will refuse to see the movie out of spite of hearing good reviews of it.
posted by Atreides at 6:49 PM on February 17, 2012


(This video has some behind the scenes footage of the Alien 3 rod puppets. Kinda neat looking, really. The flaw was is in the compositing, I'd say.)
posted by brundlefly at 6:53 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an append, I am not the least bit familiar with the books. I understand they are pulpy classics, and as such.. a schlocky film seems fitting.. yesno?


Yes, and as a diehard fan of the books it looks like the movie captures a lot of the spirit of them. However, that doesn't mean that

A) they haven't created a complete mess of a plot

Or

B) the movie will be remotely watchable by a general audience.

The trailer itself seems like an unwatchable mess to anyone who hasn't read the books. Although maybe that's just me projecting.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 6:58 PM on February 17, 2012


> I will be the apparently freakish outlier and say that while I probably won't see this first run, I'd excitedly switch
> it on the minute that it hit cable.
> posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:36 PM on February 17 [+] [!]

Coming from just the opposite direction to the same point. My first pass through the ERB Mars books was hearing them read aloud by my dad from the hardbacks he had owned as a kid, before I myself had learned to read. So I'll be seeing the movie with some pretty heavy baggage on board in the way of already-imagined images--but like you I plan on seeing it anyway, hoping. Who knows, maybe there'll be some things in it that are as spot on as Hagrid was, or Gandalf and Galadriel. (And as spot on as it looks like Thorin is going to be.) Whatever impression anybody may get from the trailer, the Mars concept art was awesome.

Re. the trailer, I agree with the people who say that guy is too pretty to be John Carter. Actually he's not too pretty as much as too young. He's as babyfaced as Val Kilmer in Willow in 1988. Carter describes himself (in the books) as thirty-something, not twenty-something, and at the beginning of A Princess of Mars he has just finished slogging all the way through the U.S. civil war, so he's got quite a bit more mileage on him than brother Kitsch appears to have. Viggo Mortensen in his Aragorn getup would be closer.Compare one of Frazetta's Martians. N.b. Frazetta's art-nouveau helmet and I'm-so-good-I-can-fight-nekkid fantasy barbarian armor are quite authentic per ERB's descriptions, so I hope the movie won't feature a lot of Martian leather and bunnyfur.

But then, Frazetta clearly Understood Barsoom. He knew Deja Thoris was nobody to mess with, for instance, in spite of her fantasy barbarian armor.

> One thing about Barsoom is it's got lots and lots of kickass monsters. If the film gets them right then it'll be golden.

Banth.

posted by jfuller at 7:06 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I loved the books, and should have known better than to come into another Mefi Movie Haters Club thread. I do wish the trailers had been better, but I'm still looking forward to seeing an ERB on the big screen, so suck it, all you haters.

And BBC should do the Amber series, because they won't fuck it up. Probably.

I don't know what Nelson is on about with all the pretty boy talk, but Titanic's star was the ship--that movie succeeded in SPITE of its leads--both of whim are great actors but were woefully miscast as Worldly Artist and Spoiled Rich girl with Hidden Depths. DiCaprio's youthful look and prettiness was a point against him.

Orlando Bloom, I give you, is a Pretty Boy First Class, but LOTR worked because he was part of a fantastic ensemble cast and not the leading man and love interest--Viggo Mortenson is more ruggedly attractive than 'pretty.'

Frankly, pretty boys as leading men turn me off (as do cute bubbleheads as leading women). I want talent in a leading role; attractiveness is secondary. Give me a Steve Buscemi or an Ian McClellan over a Shia LeBoeuf any day of the week.

I liked The Thing prequel, too.

Best CGI in a recent movie? How about Rise of the Planet of the Apes?
posted by misha at 7:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Heh. I would *like* it to be good, but at best it's going to be a good movie sunk by TERRIBLE marketing. At worst, of course, marketing and movie will match. There's no real way to guess from the useless trailers.
posted by Artw at 7:13 PM on February 17, 2012


It's got to be at least entertaining, which I give points for, so I'll give it a watch but it's rare I go to theaters anymore.

Hey, I got bit by a spider just last Friday.

Then that makes one of us who has a possibility of getting the superpowers of their choice.
posted by P.o.B. at 7:19 PM on February 17, 2012


Any time spent watching The Thing (2011) though is basically time wasted that could be better spent watching the Carpenter version.
posted by Artw at 7:26 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not coincidentally, it may also be the best sci-fi movie of the past twenty years.


Jurassic Park. Event Horizon. Wall-E.

Moon... umm. Contrived. The twist was telegraphed from a mile out, and was implausible as to snap suspension of disbelief. Also, kinda derivative of PKD without referencing him directly or indirectly. A definite lack of opportunities for the viewer to interpret and extrapolate things on their own. The plot was way too linear.

But, back to John Carter - the director has chops. Serious chops. He understands CGI is a prop, not the show.

This is where the critics will make it or break it - if Stanton lives up to his rep as a story and character driven director who uses film technology in an attempt to illustrate and involve rather than overwhelm and awe, the critics will gush and praise and exhort their readers to go see it.

If Stanton was simply a name the House of Mouse dragooned into their entertainment-by-committee slaughterhouse, the movie was doomed from day one, and I hope he gets his job back at Pixar.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:34 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


jabberjaw: "And they are remaking Total Recall as well? It is like 1987 all over again.

Total Recall = Total Recall

The Running Man = The Hunger Games (?)

Escape from New York = Lockout

House Party = Project X

The 'burbs = Neighborhood Watch

Oh yeah, Judge Dredd = Dredd

Have a nice summer.
"

Any word about a remake of Battle Royale?
posted by Splunge at 7:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


May I just say, as a namesake of the Naked Princess, that I wish Disney had just kept their filthy hands off our Barsooms.
posted by dejah420 at 7:44 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I am unabashedly looking forward to this movie.

I hadn't heard of it until the teaser this past summer, but it tickled all the right 'bad scifi' neurons in my brain, and couldn't help get excited. I had not heard of the books before then but I was double plus excited to find out they were crazy scifi over 100 years old that influenced most modern scifi. Including Star Wars and Avatar, as attested by both Lucas and Cameron, so suck it haters that say it's a rip off of those movies.

I'm reading the books now. I had planned on waiting until after the movie, but my excitement and impatience has pushed me to reading them beforehand. As well as devouring every piece of information I can about the movies. Which lead me to the pedigree of the people involved. So now I'm hoping for not just a silly scifi movie, but one that has the potential to be really really good.

Or not. But I will enjoy the hell out of it either way.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Moon... umm. Contrived. The twist was telegraphed from a mile out, and was implausible as to snap suspension of disbelief. Also, kinda derivative of PKD without referencing him directly or indirectly. A definite lack of opportunities for the viewer to interpret and extrapolate things on their own. The plot was way too linear.

Moon is a character study, not a thriller.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:55 PM on February 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


Any time spent watching The Thing (2011) though is basically time wasted that could be better spent watching the Carpenter version.

No one involved in the making of Before Thing has any reason to feel ashamed. It's a perfectly competent homage to Carpenter. It's just...why? Why does it exist? Even pointing to the money isn't sufficient. Carpenter's film was itself a remake that made no bones about updating and modernizing the Hawks version in every way then possible. Who could have cried foul if the third time around was another version of the Campbell story? I mean, for once this was a remake no one could have bitched about, and instead they...did that? I enjoyed it -- I'll watch Mary Elizabeth Winstead in anything, I liked the creature effects, I like that it was "rated R for strong creature violence" -- but it does seem epically pointless.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:56 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I dunno about this movie, probably won't see it, looks ridiculous...

But I'd like to thank the person above who linked the trailer, because in the related videos I saw that the full trailer for Brave is now out, so, thanks! Pls Disney don't fuck that one up.
posted by marble at 8:02 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Re: The Lorax: Right now, I am showing you all on the Cat-in-the-Hat doll where Audrey Geisel and Universal Pictures touched my childhood. With Bad Touching.

Mrs. Geisel is 90 years old, so I cut her some slack on maybe no longer being as able to go through scripts in her role as an executive producer and say HOLY CRAP WTF as she might once have been.

But Universal, man--if those guys run into me in a dark alley some night, it is on.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:08 PM on February 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


It looks derivative and the aliens are definitely a little Jar Jar, but it's a 3D summer movie, if people will pay for Transformers they will pay for anything. It'll break even easily.
posted by mek at 8:30 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


That said I have a real soft spot for pulp scifi flicks, eg. Riddick series. I'll probably shamelessly pirate this and it will kill two hours and I will be satisfied.
posted by mek at 8:31 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm with mek — if it's playing on a hot day in a theater with good air conditioning, I'll probably see it. If the theater serves beer, it a certainty.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:34 PM on February 17, 2012


I want this to be good with every fiber of my being, or at least a younger version of me does. A Princes of Mars and all 10 sequels have been on my shelves for at least 25 years now and somewhere I have a map of Barsoom done up on hex paper along with notes and rough stats for all the major critters. Gaze on my geekdom ye mighty and despair. And yeah, it's mostly going to be chasing, fighting, being chased, more fighting and a shallow mutual infatuation gussied up as a love story. If you came in expecting Herman Hess or Ted Dostoyevsky, you're in the wrong theater.

A grown up version of myself is heartened by there being no evidence of a 10 year old kid and his pet being inappropriately inserted into the film, so you now know how battered my standards for reasonable "dramatic presentation" of science fiction and fantasy are.

That said, here are my concerns from greatest to least, based on the trailer:
  • And Earth is next? (As per this trailer.) The formula I remember was Earth = meh. Mars = AWESOME. John Carter wasn't the type of guy who needed a threat to Earth to get out of bed in the morning, so this reeks of producers trying to make things "better". Twitch.*
  • Who is the bald dude with blue eyes? An Okarian? My battered standards fear incursions by the Spacing Guild. (Sorry Atreides.)
  • The art for the green martians embraces the suck pretty badly. It's like they were going for the Michael Whelan look (which was awesome) and failed to grasp the brass ring. Also, where to voice actors instructed to sound like a stereotypical cab driver circa every film in the 60's asking "Where to mac?" or something?
  • Dejah Thoris is not red enough. None of the red martians seem red enough (assuming all the human types but John Carter and Blue Eyes are red martians). The guy in the "This Wedding Must Not Take Place!" scene made me feel like Dejah Thoris was being forcibly married to Timothy Dalton's Prince Barin.

    *Some time before the "Beauty and the Beast" TV show, so roughly a geologic epoch before "A Game of Thrones", I got to hear George R. R. Martin tell a story of "involvement from the producers trying to make things better" at a science fiction convention. It was funny in a "humor is a defense mechanism" sort of way. That it' is a Disney production makes me less optimistic than Jabberjaw is, but then again, Wall-E and Finding Nemo were Disney productions.

  • posted by Kid Charlemagne at 8:37 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Whenever I see the trailers, I keep hearing John Connor, and some part of me thinks "Sure; after defeating Skynet, recruitment by aliens against an unknown foe was a logical next step in John's career."
    posted by ceribus peribus at 8:39 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    . A definite lack of opportunities for the viewer to interpret and extrapolate things on their own. 

    I liked that about moon. So often obvious flaws are just handwaved away or ignored, but Moon asked sensible questions and then answered them.

    But then I actually think Disney Princess of Mars would be a fun thing to go and see, so what do I know? (She totally thinks thinks John carter is a filthy smelly oik, until they are forced to travel through the martian wilderness with only a six armed green butler named Twixel and her pet swamp fuze)
    posted by Sparx at 8:40 PM on February 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


    Yes. We Like the Moon.
    posted by Splunge at 8:42 PM on February 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


    It looks derivative and the aliens are definitely a little Jar Jar, but it's a 3D summer movie, if people will pay for Transformers they will pay for anything. It'll break even easily.

    *sigh*
    posted by [insert clever name here] at 8:56 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Ugh. It's a Disney production. Expectations are already ant-belly low, and as a lifelong Burroughs geek I'm predisposed to like the shit. But....

    These are pretty shitty numbers for a huge tentpole.

    I enjoy Nikki Finke's scoops as much as anyone, but a rival studio exec as your lead source? The main conclusion I'm drawing from the anonymous Disneyite trying to blame the last studio head is that no one freaking knows how well John Carter is going to do, and Disney is almost totally at sea about how to market it. Check this comment under Finke's post:

    ...the marketing has been a text book atrocity. In what world was it smart to wait until 3 weeks out to finally tell audiences what the movie is about?....anyone who has done this more than a few months knows that audiences crave story points.

    $3.5 million for a super bowl spot that is a title reveal? maybe for something coming out in the future – 6,12 or 18 months away. but a month out? absurd. they should have been way past that at this point. change the title, losing the “Of Mars”? why? just because you can? a silly, waste of time, distraction and irritation to the fanboys. you court them, not alienate them, when you have a science fiction movie....


    That person might be talking out of her/his ass, but the above sounds like a more plausible reason for any early tepid reactions than complaints about the CGI in the trailer. Avatar's CGI was far from perfect and its 3D effects absurdly overrated. The Martian beasts and beings in the trailer look just fine, requiring no more suspension of disbelief than that weird monster in Super 8 did. And they seem to have plenty more screen time, so we'll almost certainly get used to them quickly and accept them easily. The CGI looks more than up to the task of making this late 1800s Martian adventure real enough for movies; given Disney's name on this thing, I'm guessing story is where the movie will fail for audiences not turned away by lame marketing - it will be cutesy, stupid, simplistic, pandering, blah blah.

    Also, I have trouble understanding anyone who thinks Spielberg's hokey schlockfest Jurassic Park is a better science fiction movie than Moon, no matter how telegraphed the plot was in the latter. Aliens among us and all that, I guess.
    posted by mediareport at 9:16 PM on February 17, 2012


    Jurassic Park. Event Horizon. Wall-E.

    Those are your picks for the best sci-fi films of the past twenty years, but Moon doesn't live up to your standards?
    posted by P.o.B. at 10:03 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Moon is a character study, not a thriller.

    Which is why I was so annoyed by its sudden descent into beat-the-clock escape-the-locked-room-ism at the end. What a dull move.
    posted by shakespeherian at 10:28 PM on February 17, 2012


    *sigh*

    I meant cinematically derivative. It's one thing to be a movie adaptation of a textual source, it's another thing to be so obviously robbing the Star Wars prequels and Riddick trilogy for staging/costumes/setdesign.
    posted by mek at 10:33 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    >> Jurassic Park. Event Horizon. Wall-E.

    > Those are your picks for the best sci-fi films of the past twenty years, but Moon doesn't live up to your standards?


    To be fair, I think that comment was meant sarcastically. Any good movie is going to suck, if those are your standards. Event Horizon? Seriously?
    posted by Chuckles at 10:48 PM on February 17, 2012


    The Martian beasts and beings in the trailer look just fine, requiring no more suspension of disbelief than that weird monster in Super 8 did.

    God that thing sucked. As did pretty much all of that movie where the actual plot was happening.
    posted by Artw at 10:49 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Event Horizon? Seriously?

    I mean, the premise was good-- turn Solaris into a horror film. The execution....
    posted by shakespeherian at 10:50 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I will defend the first two thirds of Event Horizon to the hilt. After that, well, it's slightly better than the actual real Hellraiser in space movie, but only just.
    posted by Artw at 10:52 PM on February 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Moon, though, I fucking love. Also Source Control.
    posted by Artw at 10:52 PM on February 17, 2012


    The movie might actually be watchable. The book it is based on is also kind of cool.

    The problem is that Disney is in a tailspin management-wise. Way too compartmentalized, "synergy" is played up but terribly implemented, etc. This is what happens when a movie studio also owns a media and licensing octopus. It ends up being run by lawyers and useless focus groups instead of visionaries and risk-takers.
    posted by Camofrog at 11:21 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Which is why I was so annoyed by its sudden descent into beat-the-clock escape-the-locked-room-ism at the end. What a dull move.

    This was also character study. If you think the end of Moon is about "escape" then you missed at least half of the point.
    posted by vorfeed at 11:31 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    On my list Event Horizon would place higher than both Jurassic Park and Wall-E(T in love).
    posted by P.o.B. at 11:36 PM on February 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I bet it's an entertaining film. Good enough for me. I learned long ago, if I want entertainment, I had to be willing to be entertained. But I'm old, and have no need to prove how sophisticated I am by not seeing a Disney film.
    posted by Goofyy at 6:18 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Are they actually going to do the whole Civil-War-veteran-also-immortal-somehow backstory, with the psychic time-traveling and the cave and everything? Or will they go for a modern guy (perhaps a descendant of Carter - or Carter himself in the modern world, being immortal and all)?

    Civil War for sure.
    posted by heatvision at 7:09 AM on February 18, 2012


    I will defend the first two thirds of Event Horizon to the hilt. After that, well, it's slightly better than the actual real Hellraiser in space movie, but only just.

    I think you misspelled Sunshine there.
    posted by ricochet biscuit at 7:22 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Ha! Sunshine goes off the rails so hard it blows up the sun.
    posted by Artw at 7:24 AM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Meatbomb: "If you are going to play Kashmir, you'd better fucking play Kashmir."

    I doubt that it will be in the movie at all, that's just a trailer thing. It's like when The "Beginning Is the End Is the Beginning" was used in the Watchmen trailer or the choir remake of Creep was used in the Social Network trailer. Neither of those actually showed up in the movies.
    posted by octothorpe at 7:49 AM on February 18, 2012


    Oh God, Event Horizon. That movie had such gorgeous production design and it sucked SO hard. They had one trick: "look! over there! a distracting thing! .... 3... 2... 1... BOO!" and I could *literally* count out loud to the BOO moment. I wanted it to be good - I like Sam Neill, the film looked pretty, and there were some lovely images of creepiness. But, wow, that sucked.
    posted by rmd1023 at 7:57 AM on February 18, 2012


    I think the premise - the drive works, but takes you through places you really don't want to go - had great Lovecraftian potential, but they blew it in the third act by, as I say, making it Hellraiser.

    I would have gone with the innactive drive having a From Beyond (the short story) like effect on the human nervous system, leading to things getting in.

    Oh, and MORE ORBITAL.
    posted by Artw at 8:08 AM on February 18, 2012


    It is a little odd how those two movies have the same basic plot points, but Event Horizon's conclusion has the same ending that most every boogyman movie ends. I don't mind admitting that I was alright with the way Sunshine ended.
    posted by P.o.B. at 8:29 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Regarding Event Horizon -

    Wiki: Anderson said that his initial cut of the film, before the visual effects had been completed, ran to about 130 minutes in length. The film was even more graphic in this incarnation, and both test audiences and the studio were unnerved by the gore. Paramount ordered Anderson to cut the film by thirty minutes and delete some of the violence, a decision that he regrets. Some of the lost scenes were offered as special features on the 2006 DVD but were taken from poor quality video tape, the only format in which the scenes now exist; the studio had little interest in keeping unused footage and the film has since been lost.

    For a film less than twenty years old! The stupidity, it burns.
    posted by stinkycheese at 8:53 AM on February 18, 2012


    Fan edit: Killer Horizon.
    posted by stinkycheese at 9:03 AM on February 18, 2012


    Event Horizon fits into the same category of film as Bram Stoker's Dracula for me: it's a fantastic movie except for the acting, plot and script.
    posted by griphus at 9:17 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    how dare you sir
    posted by elizardbits at 9:27 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Well, if you want to talk about a movie where everything but the acting, plot and script looked and sounded gorgeous it would really have to be Tron 2. That thing would be amazing if there were even any kind of substance inside that audio-visual shell.
    posted by Artw at 9:34 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I was pretty shocked at how deadly boring Tron: Legacy was. There was basically no plot at all and not really much action past that one light cycle race.
    posted by octothorpe at 9:44 AM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The soundtrack is amazing though, and sometimes it messes with the visuals beautifully, like the arrival of the Rectifier.
    posted by Artw at 9:51 AM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Some other thoughts on the specifics of the movie:

    jfuller:
    Carter describes himself (in the books) as thirty-something, not twenty-something, and at the beginning of A Princess of Mars he has just finished slogging all the way through the U.S. civil war, so he's got quite a bit more mileage on him than brother Kitsch appears to have.


    - I'm glad they got a lead actor that wasn't like the character in the book, lets face it, John Carter is a little bland in the books, as in he has no personality what-so-ever. He's just a square-jawed fighter type that loves killing and is pretty much unstoppable. Also he picks up stray aliens like a hoarder picks up cats. Maybe they'll slim that down a bit to make it more focused, and give his character a chance to be something other than a broad chested, generic hero.


    Kid Charlemagne:
    Who is the bald dude with blue eyes? An Okarian?

    - This bugged me too, so I spent a lot of time watching different trailers to figure it out. I think he is a Thern, so I'm thinking they're combining book one and 2 to some extent. I did read an interview where Stanton said they had to tear apart the book and put it back together to make it work for film. So I get the impression there are some liberties with the story. Which does make me a bit nervous in spite of my enthusiasm for the film.


    Kid Charlemagne:
    : Dejah Thoris is not red enough. None of the red martians seem red enough (assuming all the human types but John Carter and Blue Eyes are red martians).

    - Yeah, that was my first thought too when I became familiar with the book. The aliens in the book are described as solidly being the color they are depicted, not just the earth equivalent. Red is RED, Black is solid ebony and yellow is lemon yellow. I had a hard time with the underlying aspects of race in the book, I thought it was very segregated, but I also wasn't sure if that was just because of reading it in modern times. I don't know if he really meant for it to be analogs for earth races. The black pirates were often referred to as blacks, and it made me a bit uncomfortable giving the context of how it was used, but I also don't know how much black folks were called black back then then and not some other term for their race. But yes, my own personal derailment aside, I agree that the red martians are not red enough.


    Kid Charlemagne:
    The guy in the "This Wedding Must Not Take Place!" scene made me feel like Dejah Thoris was being forcibly married to Timothy Dalton's Prince Barin.

    Don't hate on McNutty.
    posted by [insert clever name here] at 10:10 AM on February 18, 2012


    John Carter in the books suffers from having been on the wrong side of history, among other things. Among the other things is Burroughs's too-obvious love of Fenimore Cooper.

    One of the reasons I am queasy about the movie is my wondering how they manage Carter's having fought for the CSA. The "Lost Cause" mythology has a different flavor in 2012 than it did in 1917.
    posted by Sidhedevil at 10:33 AM on February 18, 2012


    I was pretty shocked at how deadly boring Tron: Legacy was. There was basically no plot at all and not really much action past that one light cycle race.

    Tron Legacy is another one that strikes me as more of a character study. I thought it had a lot of neat things to say about aging, ambition, creation, self-acceptance, and whether you should be sure to call your AI "kids" as often as the meatspace ones (spoiler: yes)... but the writers failed to combine that with much of a plot, to the point where the character stuff kind of is the plot. It's not very interesting as a chase movie or a hard sci-fi flick (especially during the second half, in which everyone just runs around because that's what you do in a Tron movie.)
    posted by vorfeed at 10:41 AM on February 18, 2012


    Just as I was catching up on this thread this morning, a woman from Watchtower knocked on my door to talk about Armageddon. After she left, I realized I missed out on a wonderful chance to talk about in earnest my thoughts and opinions on Michael Bay and Bruce Willis.
    posted by mrzarquon at 11:13 AM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Sidhedevil: One of the reasons I am queasy about the movie is my wondering how they manage Carter's having fought for the CSA. The "Lost Cause" mythology has a different flavor in 2012 than it did in 1917.

    Have you watched Hell on Wheels? It's yet another quality TV show from AMC.

    There's a character on HOW, Bohannon, who also fought for the Confederacy in the Civil War and they got it right with him, I think. He's not a 2-dimensional bigot, but a complex guy with a lot of biases warring in his own mind, good and bad.

    Women, Bohannon treats with the utmost respect, which we as the audience understand has to do with the respect he held for his deceased wife. In his dealings with Native Americans, he's pragmatic at a time when many around him are just out for blood--if he has to kill to protect someone, he'll do it, but he won't go after entire tribes. And he can't be convinced to do anything against his own principles, despite his mercenary status, no matter how high the monetary incentive. So he seems to have a pretty good moral compass.

    Except when it comes to the black characters on the show.

    Bohannon clearly has issues getting past his prejudices there. He has befriended one black man, Ferguson, but he didn't just get to know Ferguson and decide hey, here's another strong, honest, principled person like me. He basically treated Ferguson like crap until Ferguson stepped up and beat the crap out of Bohannon in the boxing ring. There are other characters dealing with their own demons. We've got an Irish railroad baron that demands respect through wealth, and really doesn't seem to hold any prejudices against any one with the potential to earn him money. There are also Irish immigrants who are looked on with disdain by any but the lowest railroad workers, who the immigrants are basically extorting for money. And the Irish immigrants themselves are also terribly bigoted against the black workers, while standing up for others they think are being maligned.

    Anyway, I like how Hell on Wheels has handled a complex time, when people's own feelings were often conflicted, by creating characters equally complex to people the series. So it can be done right.

    Back to the movie: John Carter not only fights for the Confederacy, btw, he gets tied up on the side of the Green Martians when he ought to be championing the cause of the Red, who are the thinkers and dreamers and "nice" race. So his Civil War history fits in the greater context of the story, too. ERB liked to put characters in the "wrong" situation--honorable men fighting in favor of a poor cause, a child born to nobility but brought up in the jungle, a good man who is apprenticed by an evil scientist, a street fighter who is caught up in a kidnapping-- and then make them rise above the situation because at heart they are men of character and principle. It was basically his motif.
    posted by misha at 12:33 PM on February 18, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Tron Legacy is another one that strikes me as more of a character study.

    I feel like this discussion is doing a severe disservice to the fantastic filmic history of character studies, from The Man Within to Cleo from 5 to 7.
    posted by shakespeherian at 12:58 PM on February 18, 2012


    Die Hard is primarily a character study.
    posted by Artw at 1:04 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    I feel like this discussion is doing a severe disservice to the fantastic filmic history of character studies, from The Man Within to Cleo from 5 to 7.

    Good thing the topic at hand is big dumb sci-fi movies, then, not Fantastic Filmic History 402: From The Man Within to Cleo From 5 to 7.
    posted by vorfeed at 1:21 PM on February 18, 2012


    What I mean is that 'character study' here seems to be getting used as shorthand for 'boring movie, but there's also some themes.'
    posted by shakespeherian at 1:29 PM on February 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Pretty much.
    posted by Artw at 1:30 PM on February 18, 2012


    What I mean is that 'character study' here seems to be getting used as shorthand for 'boring movie, but there's also some themes.'

    I wasn't bored by Tron: Legacy or Moon, which was my point in bringing up what I liked about them.
    posted by vorfeed at 2:14 PM on February 18, 2012


    Movies starring Kitsch are kitschy.
    posted by kirkaracha at 2:28 PM on February 18, 2012


    Re: Event Horizon I think the premise - the drive works, but takes you through places you really don't want to go - had great Lovecraftian potential,

    Stephen King managed a very good short story about that. I don't recall if it was before EH or not but it was about an instantaneous transport method and the perils of going through conscious.
    posted by phearlez at 2:45 PM on February 18, 2012


    'The Jaunt.'
    posted by shakespeherian at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2012


    Quite a bit before.
    posted by Artw at 2:56 PM on February 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Heh. Nicely done.
    posted by Artw at 2:57 PM on February 18, 2012


    Of course, teleportation has been going horribly wrong since 1957 at least.
    posted by Artw at 2:58 PM on February 18, 2012


    Harry Knowles did a pretty thorough interview with director Andrew Stanton on everything from why the red men aren't entirely red to why the therns are brought out early.Here.
    posted by Atreides at 3:53 PM on February 18, 2012


    One of the reasons I am queasy about the movie is my wondering how they manage Carter's having fought for the CSA. The "Lost Cause" mythology has a different flavor in 2012 than it did in 1917.

    Edgar Rice Burroughs was pretty racist (as were any others when he wrote his stories),
    posted by KokuRyu at 6:40 PM on February 18, 2012


    Don't hate on McNutty.

    Make him coppery red the way God ERB intended and I'll give him a big hug. Until then, I'm keeping an eye open for Brian Blesed.
    posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:46 PM on February 18, 2012


    John Carter, Gulliver Jones and Phra the Phoenician

    (Which sort-of, but not quite, spoils my hope that "Latro", the Roman soldier with a memory problem in Gene Wolfe's _Soldier in the Mist_ books, on account of god-given immortality, would, as time passes and the span which he can remember lengthens, grow up to become John Carter.)
    posted by wobh at 6:04 AM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Artw: "The Martian beasts and beings in the trailer look just fine, requiring no more suspension of disbelief than that weird monster in Super 8 did.

    God that thing sucked. As did pretty much all of that movie where the actual plot was happening.
    "

    Amen. Super 8 was an incredible disappointment.
    posted by Splunge at 6:32 AM on February 19, 2012


    Watching those CGIfest arena scenes made think of Spartacus: Blood and Tits which I'm betting is around 100 times more entertaining (and a tad more realistic) for about a tenth of the budget
    posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:32 PM on February 19, 2012


    The tit-to-cock ratio in Spartacus skews about 1 to 5, so I tend to think of it as a bad example of overtly taking advantage showing the female body.
    posted by P.o.B. at 3:55 PM on February 19, 2012


    Best science fiction movies of the last 50 years:

    2001: A Space Odyssey
    The original Planet of the Apes
    Alien
    Forbidden Planet

    Yeah I know the last one was made in 1956, but I saw it almost 50 years ago the first time. So deal with it.
    posted by Splunge at 9:29 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    The original Planet of the Apes

    Now don't get me wrong because I enjoy the hell out of that movie but it's not exactly subtle, is it
    posted by shakespeherian at 9:37 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    misha writes "I don't know what Nelson is on about with all the pretty boy talk, but Titanic's star was the ship--that movie succeeded in SPITE of its leads--both of whim are great actors but were woefully miscast as Worldly Artist and Spoiled Rich girl with Hidden Depths. DiCaprio's youthful look and prettiness was a point against him. "

    Taken only as worth of the movie DiCaprio's looks might have been a detriment but as a driver of financial success his looks sure brought in the teenage girl crowd for multiple viewings.

    Kid Charlemagne writes "Dejah Thoris is not red enough. "

    This. The director's explanation seems reasonable but the red martians still look wrong.
    posted by Mitheral at 10:34 PM on February 19, 2012


    Splunge: “Best science fiction movies of the last 50 years: 2001: A Space Odyssey ... The original Planet of the Apes ... Alien ... Forbidden Planet”

    The Thing? Blade Runner? Total Recall? Brazil? Does a person need to mention Star Wars? Gattaca? La Cité des enfants perdus or maybe Delicatessen? La Jetée?

    There's also a really fantastic movie from one of the former SSRs based in the future, when everybody is forced to live underground after a nuclear holocaust. It's brilliantly existential, and made me very happy. I wish I could remember what it was called. I'll have to look that up...

    I know a lot of people really hate the original 1972 Solaris, but it's really good, I think.

    Oh, and Repo Man. Repo Man is fantastic, and I think it counts as science fiction. Pretty much.
    posted by koeselitz at 10:50 PM on February 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Does Stalker count as sci-fi?
    posted by shakespeherian at 11:12 PM on February 19, 2012


    If so, that's a whole 'nother level right there.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:39 PM on February 19, 2012


    Oh come on, Repo Man wasn't sci-fi.

    If that counts, shouldn't the original Edge of Darkness? Indianna Jones and The Crystal Skull? And who knows what else besides.
    posted by stinkycheese at 10:54 AM on February 20, 2012


    Not that IJatCS would be a Top 50 of anything.
    posted by stinkycheese at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2012


    Repo Man is fantastic, I agree. But mentioning dead aliens and/or a car taking off at the end is just slightly more sci-fi than Chitty Chitty Bang Bang or Grease.
    posted by stinkycheese at 10:57 AM on February 20, 2012


    I'm seeing a screening of John Carter in Orlando on Thursday.

    I'll try to remember to let you all know what I think on opening day, once the press embargo has lifted. Fingers crossed I'll have good news for you.
    posted by misha at 6:55 PM on February 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Looking forward to good news, thanks Misha. It'll be an agonizing wait!

    Also, samples of the score were posted on aintitcool recently for those interested. Would link but on unfriendly phone.
    posted by Atreides at 8:51 PM on February 20, 2012


    What I wondered is how they could drop $250 million and not get the rights to Kashmir.

    It is Kashmir, as covered by Bond and yah, I'm with you there on the rage.
    posted by jamaro at 12:07 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    What I wondered is how they could drop $250 million and not get the rights to Kashmir.

    Apparently Led Zeppelin are über-strict about their music being used in films, let alone in advertisements. In order to secure rights to use their music for the film School of Rock, the cast and crew recorded a film of themselves pleading for the rights to use Zep; you can see this clip on the DVD.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 3:23 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Apparently Led Zeppelin are über-strict about their music being used in films, let alone in advertisements.

    ...and yet the soundtrack for the American Godzilla film had this.
    posted by griphus at 7:36 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Comment #4199462, Take 2: ...this.
    posted by griphus at 7:37 AM on February 21, 2012


    Honest question: would Zep's ability to control their music be less when it's a hip-hop song that samples the Kashimir riff?
    posted by Sticherbeast at 8:09 AM on February 21, 2012


    Well, unlike much of hip-hop sampling, the use of "Kashmir" was overtly approved by Jimmy Page. Not just that, but Page and Diddy (née Puff Daddy) performed it live on SNL that year.
    posted by griphus at 8:16 AM on February 21, 2012


    Still fucking terrible though, like all of Diddy's sample work.
    posted by Artw at 8:25 AM on February 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Oh, yeah, don't get me wrong, that song is a polished turd at best. It just confounds me that Zep can have a uber-strict policy toward the use of their music (which I totally believe they do) and at the same time let that abortion out the gates with not just a seal of approval, but active collaboration.
    posted by griphus at 8:36 AM on February 21, 2012


    I'm gonna blame cocaine.
    posted by Artw at 8:42 AM on February 21, 2012


    Here's that link to a sample of multiple tracks of the John Carter score that I mentioned.
    posted by Atreides at 9:48 AM on February 21, 2012


    I'm gonna blame cocaine.

    Dylan's version rather than Clapton's shitty take I hope.
    posted by phearlez at 12:59 PM on February 21, 2012


    Newsweek/Daily Beast throws gasoline on the pile on, "Disney's Quarter Billion Dollar Fiasco."

    It seems virtually all the negativity related to the movie isn't based on the movie, itself, but on how it was developed (from the outside looking in), and now so far promoted. I like to believe that when people like misha go and see the film, they'll love it, and the tsunami of great reviews will make all this talk just dust in the past.
    posted by Atreides at 9:42 AM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    How do you think John Carter should have been marketed?

    Worth it for this fan trailer, which actually tries to sell the story.
    posted by Artw at 10:57 AM on February 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


    For good or bad, but the discussion on whether it'll be a fiasco or not may have contributed to coworkers of mine asking about the movie today at lunch. Any publicity is good publicity? Granted, the lead off question was, "Who's John Connor?"
    posted by Atreides at 11:06 AM on February 22, 2012


    My wife's reaction to seeing the theatre trailer the other day, without prior exposure: "That looks terrible".
    posted by Artw at 11:08 AM on February 22, 2012


    Yeah, one of the problems is that Disney marketing can't embrace the subject of the movie. It's about an immortal war veteran who just fought in the U.S. Civil War, and is in the process of moving west, when he is suddenly transported to Mars. He meets a bunch of Martians and get acclimated to Martian culture. Then he gets involved in a Martian war and falls in love with a Martian princess.

    I agree that the ads have been too abstract so far. I'd like to see a narrative of a southern gentleman bad-ass getting in over his head when he meets a hot Martian princess and falls in love. He's in a weird and exotic Martian landscape while fighting with and against Martian monsters, on his way to becoming the conscientious but supreme bad-ass of all Martians.
    posted by jabberjaw at 12:19 PM on February 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


    This is quite nice.
    posted by Artw at 4:16 PM on February 22, 2012


    Worth it for this fan trailer, which actually tries to sell the story.

    Whoa yeah, that's much better. I feel like if my friends saw that, I could actually convince them to come with me. Right now when I say I want to see this, they all give me a look like I'm talking about Adult Baby Play.
    posted by Greg Nog at 5:12 PM on February 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Very well done trailer.
    posted by Atreides at 5:41 PM on February 23, 2012


    Kim Newman on John Carter
    posted by Artw at 9:17 AM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


    One down, an industry to go.
    posted by Atreides at 10:22 AM on February 24, 2012


    Kim Newman's column notwithstanding, full reviews are supposed to be under an embargo until opening day. Disney has lightened its stance in that I am allowed to give a general impression without giving away any plot details, so here it is:

    Starts a bit choppy but does a great job winning the audience over into liking the John Carter character. I'm pleased they brought so many elements from the books into the film, when they could have just gone the flashy, Transformers route. Well done!

    Reactions of those who have not read the books:

    My spouse: I'm impressed. I really enjoyed that.
    My son: I liked it. [stuff I can't reveal] was my favorite part--did not expect that at all!
    Son's girlfriend: Glorious.
    posted by misha at 11:02 PM on February 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


    That makes me really happy to hear, Misha!
    posted by mrzarquon at 11:09 PM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]




    Awesome news! Thank you for the tidbit reaction! Look forward to your lengthier review later.
    posted by Atreides at 11:50 AM on February 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


    fearfulsymmetry: "JOHN CARTER extended scene - White Apes "

    That looks like a pretty generic CGI fueled modern action movie. Slightly better than SyFy channel stuff but disappointing coming from Andrew Stanton.
    posted by octothorpe at 12:14 PM on February 25, 2012


    The attention to detail I noticed in the CGI was pretty good, what I would expect from Stanton. He did say there are more CGI shots in Carter than his last Pixar. While a self admitted booster, I think there were a number of great visuals in that glimpse. I loved the shots of Tarkis watching the fight as they ranged from bored to eager. I'll have to watch again on a better connection tomorrow.
    posted by Atreides at 12:31 PM on February 25, 2012


    Yep, on faster connection, looks even better. Though, realized I'd mistaken the wrong Martian. It appears that Stanton has placed Tars Tarkis into the role of Kantos Kan, at least in the arena scene. Perhaps using the white apes there in place of the white apes that Carter killed in the ruin city in the novel? I.e., an example of his awesomeness before the Tharks.

    The next 12 days can't pass soon enough, for myself, and for my poor wife who has been putting up with an increasing amount of "John Carter" this and "John Carter" that around the home.
    posted by Atreides at 4:32 PM on February 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Well, AICN like it. Course, they like a lot of things.
    posted by Artw at 11:26 AM on February 29, 2012


    Thanks. I'm not a fan of AICN reviews typically, they are very uneven.

    But it led me to this, which provides a compilation of some reviews of John Carter to date. They all seem to say the same thing, which is that it sets a new bar for Science Fiction blockbuster cinema, and was more than just surprisingly good, but surprisingly great, even from self-proclaimed haters. I'm kind of excited to see it.

    I'm most bummed because, if this is indeed a good flick and it does poorly at the box office, it gives competing studios a new weapon: manufacturing bad buzz for good movies. Not to say that the initial trailer didn't instill a sense of "WTF is this movie about," but I'm not sure it merited the amount of anti-hype the movie is getting.
    posted by jabberjaw at 2:17 PM on February 29, 2012


    I still don't get why they haven't recut something like the fan trailer and started pushing it out over the internet. I realize getting it on the film prints for this weeks trailers are out of the question, but they can change the ads online in seconds and get it up on Facebook, youtube, and all of that.

    I mean, this is what the Internet is meant for. They could still swap out the ad buys for any existing slots on network television as well.
    posted by mrzarquon at 3:41 PM on February 29, 2012


    There actually is a new trailer out for the movie besides the Superbowl ad, but I get the feeling that everybody seems to be ignoring it, or running it with bad spin.
    posted by jabberjaw at 3:51 PM on February 29, 2012


    Something seems to be making people talk about the movie, even if incorrectly like my aforementioned coworker. My wife came home to tell me that two of her co-workers were discussing the film (rife with inaccuracies on the plot - surprise!) at her workplace yesterday. They wouldn't fall into the class of consumers who I would expect to have a great interest in the film, but I'm pretty intrigued that they are at least discussing it.

    Copernicus' review, or rather his reaction to the movie, is pretty wild. (Thank you for the link to it and the other page summarizing responses)

    It seems, and I really am hoping that it's true, that the movie will rise above Disney's god-awful advertising strategy for it. Unless said strategy was, "lower expectations!" Then I just want to smack 'em.

    I'll be trying to decide if I want to catch it on opening night or the first showing the next day. Hrm.
    posted by Atreides at 8:18 AM on March 1, 2012




    Just beat me to it with the review from the Guardian. So instead, here is an interview of Stanton by the Guardian.
    posted by Atreides at 1:07 PM on March 1, 2012 [1 favorite]


    More positive reviews are trickling out.

    Den of Geek.

    Digital Spy.
    posted by Atreides at 8:38 AM on March 2, 2012 [1 favorite]




    I'm sorry to resurrect a derail here, but regarding the use of miniatures in modern effects work: Incredibly detailed model of Hogwarts Castle used for every film in blockbusting series is revealed for the first time
    posted by brundlefly at 3:32 PM on March 5, 2012 [4 favorites]


    Wow. That's postworthy, IMHO.

    (And I don't even care for potter that much)
    posted by Artw at 3:36 PM on March 5, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Done!
    posted by brundlefly at 6:55 PM on March 5, 2012


    Ten Things Parents Should Know about John Carter via Wired.

    This one Wired writer seemed to love the film.

    More nuanced negative reviews are popping up, but overall, it seems that most people either really love it, really hate it (in part for some of the reasons people really love it), or are somewhat meh. Right now, Carter has dropped to a staggering 61% at Rotten Tomatoes from the 70's. I will be interested in how it looks when the majority of reviews from the "Top Critics" come out tomorrow.

    Also, Amazon is selling the digital version of the John Carter soundtrack for only $3.99 for a limited time. I've listened to some of it, and it reminds me to some degree of Lawrence of Arabia, which may have been an influence for Michael Giacchino (who knows?).
    posted by Atreides at 9:22 AM on March 7, 2012


    Rotten Tomato rating drops down to 56%.

    A lot of middling "mehs" by a number of critics. I was disappointed by Ebert's review, not because he gives it 2 1/2 stars, but at the end of it he asks, "Why did they give the Tharks tusks?"

    It may be that Stanton has made a movie too dedicated to the source material. In his eagerness to totally reproduce the world of Barsoom and John Carter, he crafted something that overwhelms those unfamiliar with Burroughs works. The "too much is going on" complaint appears to be a common refrain in a number of the negative reviews.

    I still wonder if the general negative publicity that the movie received out of an almost desirious demand that it should fail hasn't affected the perception and perspective of the critics (and I suppose, we will see if it affects the general movie going populace).

    I have already purchased my ticket for tomorrow evening, but while I was hoping to go in buoyed by an overwhelming number of positive reviews, I will instead be checking at least some of my enthusiasm at the door. I'll definitely post tomorrow night on my reaction to the film.
    posted by Atreides at 8:35 AM on March 8, 2012




    In my seat, 3D glasses at hand, and in just over three hours I'll offer up my opinion. Here's hoping it's a great one.
    posted by Atreides at 4:05 PM on March 9, 2012


    I want to believe... honest, but things are not looking great.
    posted by Artw at 4:14 PM on March 9, 2012


    Right, here I go. I'm a bit exhausted from a poor night's sleep, so please excuse any grammatical mistakes or incomplete thoughts.

    Amazing.

    I was the fourth person into the theater, with three others already inside (one clutching a copy of one of the Barsoom books, another watching trailers for the movie on their phone). I can honestly admit that I had a growing anxiety fed by the negative reviews which were tilting the balance of good versus bad (or better yet, pushing the general opinion into a land of meh).

    Let me jump to the end, briefly. My first thought when the credits began to roll was I could not fathom how anyone could write some of the nastier criticisms of the movie that have been published. I was exhilarated, breathless almost, like that first moment or two when a roller coaster comes to a stop. Now let me explain why.

    Some reviewers have used the word epic and it is not a word that is being bandied about nor used with exaggeration. Andrew Stanton for the two and nearly half hours of John Carter repeatedly shows a boldness to cast his movie on levels of scale that rarely are seen on our movie screens today. He uses wide and long shots to establish the world of Barsoom, to show a grandeur to the action and the stage upon which he has filmed Burrough's work. The shots do not overwhelm the movie, but a number of times my breath was caught in my lungs as I forgot to breath and with wide eyes took in the vistas and the moving moments of the film. There are some directors today who attempt to create scenes on such scales, many fail, but Stanton (in my opinion) isn't one of them.

    Stanton (and all his support) create a breathing, lived in and dying world. The film feels balanced, as if everything is exactly where it should be, but it never feels as if it's some set piece, carefully constructed and intended to be viewed in a frame behind a plate of glass. It simply feels natural. It feels real. A place with history.

    Another bold decision Stanton (and Chabon, as well), was not to streamline the story they present. The film begins with several threads which are gradually and then increasingly woven together, be it the conflict between Zodanga and Helium, the way of life of the Tharks, or the purpose of the Therns. As in the book, Carter ultimately is the world changing element that brings everything together. It doesn't rush and the movie's patient approach could be something that frustrates those used to the more simple and direct approach of most modern films (particularly those with action/sci-fi elements).

    Avatar, for example, while a like in world building and to a degree, the same epic scale that Stanton embraces, is a simpler film in terms of its story telling. John Carter has more depth, period.

    You will not go into the movie, however, and see an exact reproduction of Princess of Mars. The spirit of the book and the adventure within it is there, nevertheless. While at the beginning of the movie, those familiar with the source material might begin to nitpick or make mental observations on how things are different. By the end of the movie, such a chore has long faded away, replaced by just watching the story be told.

    Michael Giacchino's score does a wonderful job of supporting the story without overwhelming it, adding to its richness. It doesn't quite rise to the level of cinematic greatness, but it definitely succeeds in enriching action/events going on in the film at any one time.

    I have seem some dismissals of the abundant use of CGI in the film. It is done with the care one expects from a Pixar director, as for example the Tharks. Tars Tarkis (Defoe does a great job voicing him) becomes one more character, not a digital intrusion in the realm of human actors (as do the other Tharks, like Sola). People complained about Carter's jumping. I did not find it cheap or hokey looking in the least. (As an aside, several reviewers complain that the inhabitants of Barsoom are more amazed that Carter can jump, rather than being from Earth - they apparently ignore a complete scene where Dejah is astonished when she realizes Carter is from where he claims to be from - another note, Carter's origin is never really made as much as a big deal as his physical abilities in the book either).

    The acting. I felt Lynn Collins did a perfectly fine job as Dejah. Would I say it was an Oscar-worthy peformance? No, but I would call it comparable with anything Carrie Fisher offered in Star Wars. As a rule, all the acting was good. I will admit that Taylor Kitsch appeared more limited in range, but in part I think it came across as such as the John Carter he plays is at first one that is emotionally detached from the world. He plays a Carter who travels to Mars as a man who has simply given up on believing in anything (explained in flashbacks), and as the movie progresses, and that Carter begins to care about a lot of things, Dejah, his place within the world of Barsoom, so does Kitsch's acting become more expressive and likeable. As I said earlier, Defoe's voice acting is excellent, and he transcends being Defoe's voice and becomes Tars Tarkis.

    I don't think John Carter is a movie for cynics because it requires a certain amount of willingness to simply sit back and allow the movie to unfold before your eyes. For the first twenty or so minutes, I felt as if I was watching a movie. For the next two hours, I experienced a movie. I say cynic, because I think there's a certain amount of almost child-like exuberance to John Carter. It offers too much of an opportunity to check reality in at the door of the theater and provide a means to escape everything going on around and about you, to quite fittingly be transported to another world.

    In part, the ambition of the movie is so great that I feel as if I can't accurately convey everything with any hope of complete success. It's a film I want to see again and perhaps with enough viewings, be able to offer an encapsulation that in much shorter words can describe the essence of Andrew Stanton's John Carter. I was weary, exhausted, when I began to write this review of mine, but just thinking back to the movie, of trying to tell you how it affected me, I am buoyed again with excitement and near breathlessness.

    Forgive the length of this review, and I know I failed to set out the narrative of the film, "Carter does this, then Dejah does this, and then Woola does an amazingly cute thing..." But, really, the film doesn't need to be rehashed, that's what seeing the film is for. I've tried to express the experience and my observations on the merits. I'm sure I will awake tomorrow, read what I wrote, and pound my head against a wall at perceived failings. I was unduly bias toward John Carter from the moment I set down Princess of Mars, but I believe that rather than allow me to gloss over any potential failings, that bias shielded me from the perceived failings the film had accrued before anyone ever sat down and was transported to Barsoom with a certain Virginian.* I hope I've been helpful, honest and accurate with what I've written. Tonight I will go to bed, my fears relieved, and considering the possibility of getting up tomorrow to attend the earliest next screening.

    *This reviewer is also a Virginian.
    posted by Atreides at 8:36 PM on March 9, 2012 [7 favorites]


    What a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

    They messed a bit with the mythology to make a good movie, but the heart and spirit of the books are right there. No matter what else, it's clear that the people involved all have great love for the source material.

    My nephew who hadn't read the books loved it as well; He just missed out on a few nods put there for us aficionados.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 4:28 PM on March 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


    Just came back from seeing it and was pleasantly surprised by it. It's a pretty darn fun adventure movie, nicely paced and well directed. Kitsch is a good leading man/action hero, or at least a heck of a lot better than Sam Worthington. Ended up seeing in 3D because the 2D showings didn't line up right with our schedule. I'd watch it in 2D, the 3D effect was uninspiring and distracting.
    posted by octothorpe at 7:57 PM on March 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


    This pretty echoes how I felt:
    ...the belief that such stories always require immensely powerful and implacable villains, in order to provoke the most exciting and dramatic conflicts imaginable. Now, one might think that Burroughs’s novel, filled with numerous evildoers and monsters, required no emendations of this sort, but someone evidently decided that villains in airships, sword-wielding, four-armed giants, and huge, vicious white apes were simply not enough.
    Locus Review

    So yeah, I really enjoyed it. It was a little too much "John Carter Begins" and frankly too loyal to the source material, but that's just criticism for criticism's sake. Stanton makes damn good movies.
    posted by Chekhovian at 11:36 PM on March 10, 2012


    I'm growing more curious as to what legs, if any, John Carter will grow over the next few weeks and months. Had I not been feeling sick, I would have seen it again yesterday. In part to being sick, I pretty much was religiously watching comments by folks who had seen the movie on Friday and yesterday. Almost overwhelmingly, the people who bothered to make comments enjoyed or loved the movie. I saw numerous comments by some who claimed to have already seen it twice.

    I will definitely be telling everyone at work to go see the movie (as well friends and family). My hope for the movie to be excellent is now definitely shifting to hoping to see the movie overcome its critics and the weird, fatalistic glee that a lot of media outlets to have "Disney's Flop" fail. If John Carter will succeed, it will be by word of mouth.
    posted by Atreides at 7:09 AM on March 11, 2012


    John Carter finishes Friday and Saturday with 30.6 million domestically in the United States (called so-so, despite beating the flop predictions of being in the 20 something millions) and brought $101.2 million overseas. Note, the article citing this quickly downplays the total $130.8 million opening as being just a drop in the bucket to payback the cost of the movie.

    It does note that the movie had an even larger turnout on Saturday, than Friday, and more families attended on Saturday. CinemaScore gave Carter a B+ rating (based on audience reports).
    posted by Atreides at 9:27 AM on March 11, 2012


    Bah, read the article off. That was around $70 million overseas for a total of $100 million.
    posted by Atreides at 10:42 AM on March 11, 2012


    An analysis of what went wrong, without the I-told-you-so's and predisposed dislike, here.

    It's nice to see this thread continue on past the time the movie came out in theaters.
    posted by jabberjaw at 9:20 AM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Further, in planting the blame on Stanton, it is reported that he had control over the marketing of the film, which everyone has almost universally agreed to be lackluster. Stanton reportedly repeatedly rejected ideas from MT Carney, the marketing chief, and went ahead with his vision of trailers, music choices, billboard imagery, and early footage screenings. Big mistake number two.

    That sounds dubious.
    posted by Artw at 11:46 AM on March 12, 2012


    Yeah, it sounds more like industry folks trying to hang all this on Stanton, so if it fails, it won't harness their reputation. Since he is already the big unknown (first time Live Action director, etc), just pile it all on him.
    posted by mrzarquon at 11:52 AM on March 12, 2012


    *tarnish, not harness.
    posted by mrzarquon at 11:52 AM on March 12, 2012


    and went ahead with his vision of trailers, music choices, billboard imagery, and early footage screenings

    That first trailer, the one with the Johnny Cash song, it was awesome, a work of art. I'm not sure what someone with no knowledge of the ERBs would have thought of it though.
    posted by Chekhovian at 11:53 AM on March 12, 2012


    Oh, and I'm seeing an extensive twitter campaign by nerds trying to get people to go to the cinemas to see this movie, so based on how well that's turned out in the past I'd say it's completely fucked.
    posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on March 12, 2012


    so based on how well that's turned out in the past I'd say it's completely fucked

    Oh Browncoats...I liked the firefly-verse at first, despite its failings, then years and years of crass fandom and now I look back and giggle at the failure of that grassroots marketing.

    I will no feel the same way about John Carter though. But man, what a terrible title. I know Mars is cursed and all in movies, but "A Princess of Mars", what a title...
    posted by Chekhovian at 12:08 PM on March 12, 2012


    Oh, and I'm seeing an extensive twitter campaign by nerds trying to get people to go to the cinemas to see this movie, so based on how well that's turned out in the past I'd say it's completely fucked

    I guess I'm a nerd without the tech. I've just been telling everyone in person to go see it.

    As for the article, thanks for sharing it. I was expecting a longer break down, but it seemed like the writer blames Stanton for purportedly refusing all advice and doing everything (including the marketing) without help and the Studio for not forcing Stanton to accept outside help. I would like to know how Stanton's behavior as described here reflects how he worked at Pixar and other Pixar directors.

    One misnomer that was repeated before the movie came out and now, is that the movie obviously was suffering due to re-shoots. Stanton, in interview, has stated that the re-shoots were planned and budgeted for. At Pixar, Stanton said that all Pixar films undergo four "re-shoots" and he actually wished he'd had more of them.

    I also can't fault Stanton for seeking advice from his fellow Pixar brains on the movie. It would be different if we were talking 2D animation (and barely then), but the Pixar crew operate in a 3D world already. They consider framing shots in essentially the same terms as any live-action director. The only real difference I would see would be handling actors and the limitations of the real world from weather to technical limitations. Otherwise, shouldn't everything else be the same?

    I'm not trying to fanatically defend Stanton, but he certainly seems to be a lightning rod for criticism for everything wrong that has happened with Carter. I just have a hard time believing that Stanton had and exerted the level of control over everything related to marketing, etc.

    I was glad to see that it at least touched upon the media's intense desire to fulfill its "prophetic" claim that JC was going to fail. One columnist at Forbes went so far as to dismiss the foreign box office of $70 million as non-english speakers simply showing up to see the special effects and what not (incidentally, there's two other columnists at Forbes who loved the movie). I'm firmly in the camp that John Carter will have legs, based on the pretty favorable audience reaction. I definitely will be seeing the movie at least once more, if only to see the 2D version.
    posted by Atreides at 1:03 PM on March 12, 2012


    Incidentally, stumbled across an interview with Stanton from October of last year. It goes into some detail on Stanton's re-shoots and other creative processes with the film.

    The same author in an article today wrote about the marketing:

    When I first met Stanton, he showed me a working version of a trailer that he disliked: “We shouldn’t be selling sci-fi and battles—I hate it when you’re selling a movie you don’t have. This feels just like ‘The Terminator,’ because every other action hero comes from this story. So our progenitor story feels derivative.” The director planned to emphasize the romance between John Carter and Princess Dejah Thoris of Mars: “It’s the ultimate Heathcliff and Cathy, because they’re even from different planets.” That sell never happened, probably because it’s almost impossible for boys to spend so much on toys—to lavishly and painstakingly build C.G.I. Tharks and Thoats and alien hovercraft—and then lay them aside and pitch their film as “The Notebook.”

    posted by Atreides at 1:10 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


    I haven't seen the film yet but I was listening to the latest episode of Filmspotting on the drive in this morning. Host Adam has a conversation with Stanton that is pretty interesting; a lot of talk about the origin of his interest in the material. It certainly sounds like this is someone who's going to err on the side of too much loyalty to the source material rather than not enough. No mention of the odd title choice or advertising campaign though.
    posted by phearlez at 1:12 PM on March 12, 2012


    Wired interviews Michael Chabon - lots on the process of writing Carter -and very little on Lit Vs Genre, despite the title.
    posted by Artw at 1:43 PM on March 12, 2012




    ‘Ishtar’ Lands on Mars

    The only silver lining for Disney may be a dubious one: last March the studio’s “Mars Needs Moms” flopped so badly that it also required a write-down, making year-on-year performance comparisons less brutal. Ouch
    posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:44 PM on March 12, 2012




    And of course Doctor Who is basically a fantasy show in which colored lights have magical properties, which I'm fine with, but I'd love to see them do more sciency science fiction stuff from time to time. Or at all, really.
    posted by Artw at 4:42 PM on March 12, 2012


    Nuts. Wrong thread.
    posted by Artw at 4:43 PM on March 12, 2012


    Heh, the Who comment almost makes sense.

    The Ishtar article by the New York Times actually inspired me to write the journalist who wrote it. As of yet, no response!

    The funny thing about Ishtar is that Ishtar wasn't really a bad movie. Was it great? Nah, but it's kind of unfairly thrown out there by extension of being a "flop" as being a terrible movie.

    One writer ponders why the media bombed John Carter.
    posted by Atreides at 5:30 PM on March 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Just saw it. Good popcorn movie, and they put a significant amount of effort into a) staying true to the source material where possible and b) replacing ERB's turn of the last century handwavy science with twenty-first century handwavy science.

    I really like the fact that Solla and Tars Tarkas had something like actual character development, instead of just being the alien/native sidekicks. Solla in particular was a remarkably strong character, I thought. Deja Thoris was at the beginning as well, although by the end of the film she was being taken prisoner, screaming a lot, and otherwise reverting to trope, so to speak. The actress was freaking amazingly into the role.

    I think that they flubbed the worldbuilding somewhat - Mars feels just too small, with two cities (left?) and two tribes of Tharks. Sure, its a dying planet, but it doesn't feel so much like a dying planet as like a shoot location dressed up a bit. Still, the characters actually interact in more complex ways than they normally do in Hollywood action flicks, and that distracts from the flatness of the scenery.

    Also, the Therns are kind of irritating - handwavy bad guys ("We just like to hang around dying world, fucking shit up - why? I dont know. How about we talk about it until your alien guard thing shows up to rescue you, instead of me just killing you right now"). Which is sad, because Dominic West's character could, in fact, have been a much richer and more complex character if he wasn't standing in the shadow of his mysterious patrons.

    Well worth seeing, for all of that. Had some of the best fight/chase/action scenes I've seen in years.
    posted by AdamCSnider at 8:07 PM on March 12, 2012 [2 favorites]


    As an aspiring screenwriter, I am gob-smacked at the amount of money Disney threw at this -- $250M -- enough for FIVE smaller-scaled movies. And it's Stanton's first live action film.

    (I also wonder wtf is going on with these animated feature directors making the move to live-action [see Brad Bird, Mission Impossible:Ghost Protocol (2011)].)

    JC felt like a repeat of Universal's effort to turn David Twohy's Pitch Black (2000) into a franchise on the scale of Peter Jackson's LotR. Twohy wasn't working from a 45 y.o., bestselling, cult novel and a built-in audience, and Jackson was working with ACTUAL stars, a large cast, sets and SFX that actually warranted the price tag. Fellowship of the Ring only cost $93M, and they managed to get plenty of WETA bang for their buck. JC's only 'star' was Willem Dafoe and he was unrecognizable beneath whatever CGI they processed him through.

    (Taylor Kitsch? Is that a real name, or a Warhol porn name, like Penny Arcade, Viva, Nico and Billy Name?)

    I saw many of the problems of Chronicles of Riddick (2004) in John Carter. While the production values were very, very high, the writing just wasn't there. I understand that the modern studio picture is a odd kind of corporate platform for selling all kinds of different shit, I'm surprised that the character-development and inferiority of Carter comes up so short. Also, there's an unnecessary teaser about a fictional Edgar Rice Burrows that takes up tem minutes in an already overly-long 130 minute film.

    To Stanton's credit, JC was better than Avatar, but that's not necessarily saying a lot, considering the collective debt owed to ERB and his sci-fi/fantasy. They may make back a substatial portion of their investment but I don't see the other Barsoom novels being made, unless they're DTV.

    (ISTR AintitCool.com's Harry Knowles having a hand in the Barsoom adaptations at an early stage. 6-8 years ago Knowles had a stake in the novels and that he had hired Ehren Kruger to polish someone else's adaptation. That, and rumors of Jon Favreau in the director's chair seem to have gone under the bus at some point. I am most certain that Mr. Knowles got paid to rescind his claims to the copyright-free material, though.)
    posted by vhsiv at 4:11 AM on March 13, 2012


    Huh.

    Born on another planet. Check.

    Higher bone density gives super strength and nigh invulnerability. Check.

    Can leap tall buildings in a single bound. Check.

    Dunno why I never noticed that before.
    posted by Tell Me No Lies at 8:45 AM on March 13, 2012 [1 favorite]




    In the vicious battle that is the British film market, John Carter took first place this last weekend.
    posted by Atreides at 2:22 PM on March 13, 2012


    Eddie Murphy's new film A Thousand Words was another to fare disastrously and is expected to drop out of the charts next week.

    Silver linings and all that.
    posted by Artw at 3:00 PM on March 13, 2012


    Silver linings and all that.

    It's kinda strange, and as an aside, but that's the first Eddie Murphy film I've been interested in seeing in years, just to see how bad it really is (I mean zilch on Rotten Tomatoes out of 40+ reviewers is quite something)
    posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:15 PM on March 13, 2012








    God, what a painfully offensive comment that is in the Entertainment Weekly column:

    “Of course, the era we’re in now is very different. International grosses provide a major cushion for a movie like John Carter — not just because the global market is huge and ever expanding, but because sizeable segments of the non-English-speaking world are even more receptive to movies that speak the international language of monosyllabic schlock spectacle than we are in the United States.”

    It's really revelatory to me how all of this actually works. I mean, all of these people were salivating over Avatar, and yet some of them even admit that this is better in the midst of damning it as schlock.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:25 AM on March 14, 2012


    TBH I actually quite like Dune, Flash Gordon, Avatar and all the other movies I'm supposed to hate this movie more than.
    posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on March 14, 2012 [2 favorites]


    Schlocky dialog often survives better when it's dubbed or subtitled, whether it's going to or going from English.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 11:28 AM on March 14, 2012


    I don't really understand. Survives what better? It seems like the notion that dubbing or subbing improves a film relies on the assumption that the translator is a better writer than the screenwriter. I'm not so sure about that.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:39 AM on March 14, 2012


    It seems like the notion that dubbing or subbing improves a film relies on the assumption that the translator is a better writer than the screenwriter.

    This has not been my experience across the board, not by a longshot.

    Regardless, dubbing and subbing are still distancing mechanisms, even if unintentional. It's easier to get behind hammy acting and lame lines when it's in a poorly-dubbed kung fu movie from the 70s, just as it's sometimes easier to sell a mediocre middlebrow movie to an art film audience, just because it's subtitled.
    posted by Sticherbeast at 11:44 AM on March 14, 2012


    That actually makes a lot of sense, and I think I agree; it's not the quality of the material at that point, it's the distancing mechanism.

    I kind of wish the EW review had put it in those terms. However, they seem convinced that it's just that furriners like crappy movies "even more" than we Americans do.
    posted by koeselitz at 11:51 AM on March 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


    For instance, the movies of the Coen brothers.
    posted by Artw at 11:53 AM on March 14, 2012


    In other news, in a backlash to the critics, fans of John Carter have started a facebook group to promote viewership of the movie and to demand a sequel (Facebook log-in required to see). Here's a Forbes article on the group and for fun's sake, another fan promo trailer here and here.

    Also, more on the overseas reception, here's a review from Prague of the film.
    posted by Atreides at 7:02 AM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    And in your afternoon John Carter round up (Lord, I need to stop doing this...), we have another article on the facebook group, this time from Cinemablend (where the writer notes he just saw and enjoyed the movie). The Guardian offers a short glimpse of the changing perspective on the film, asking if John Carter is actually going to be a flop.
    posted by Atreides at 2:15 PM on March 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


    Lord, I need to stop doing this...

    Well, i was wondering when you were going to getthe john Carter chest tattoo, or if maybe you'd already got it but not shared the pics with us. :-)
    posted by Artw at 2:17 PM on March 15, 2012


    Heh. Fortunately for me, I have a significant other who's always happy to throw a bucket of water on me if I get too animated.


    Speaking of stopping, Mr. Beaks over at Aintitcool has a rant against the media's coverage of John Carter.


    Yeah, I'll stop for the day now. I promise. Really.
    posted by Atreides at 2:26 PM on March 15, 2012


    If you need more satiation of your ERB craving, I recommend In the Courts of the Crimson Kings (yes the title is from the King Crimson album). The book is essentially well done ERB fanfiction. Don't expect Zelazny level A Rose for Ecclesiastes type prose or anything, but its a good fast read.

    From the blurb:
    "...when the first probes landed on our sister worlds, and found life—intelligent life, at that—things changed with a vengeance. By the year 2000, America, Russia, and the other great powers of Earth are all contending for influence and power amid the newly-discovered inhabitants of our sister planets."

    And holy shit the hardcover is $3 on amazon.
    posted by Chekhovian at 8:40 PM on March 15, 2012


    There's The Sky People as well, in that same universe but on Venus.
    posted by Artw at 8:41 PM on March 15, 2012


    No one ever talks about the Carson Napier of Venus books. I guess the Mars books tend to totally eclipse them, I certainly keep forgetting that they even exist.
    posted by Chekhovian at 8:45 PM on March 15, 2012


    He had Tarzan visit the hollow earth as well.
    posted by Artw at 8:47 PM on March 15, 2012


    The Red Media guys have reviewed it, they quite liked it with caveats ie too many complicated names and especially weird titles and honorific to keep track of
    posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:23 AM on March 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


    In an unexpected comparison. the Daily Beast questions the "flopping" of John Carter and Mitt Romney.

    Of interesting note (besides the comparison), is the fact that between Monday and Thursday, Carter brought in an additional 9 million.
    posted by Atreides at 12:23 PM on March 16, 2012




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