Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Reel Opinion: Why JOHN CARTER Deserves a Fair Look

This weekend, Disney’s adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough’s century-old novels involving a certain John Carter character and his adventures on Mars comes to life in JOHN CARTER.

The marketing up to this point for this science-fiction flick has been underwhelming; coming off as a mish-mash of AVATAR and ATTACK OF THE CLONES with tons of action and CGI-created characters. Some forgiveness can be extended to Disney, as their main goal (other than making a good movie) is to get people’s arses into the theatre seats. This is a business after all, and No Buck$ means No Buck Rogers.

So the marketing is mindless and looks like there is nothing being offered that we have never seen before. But there is a lot to be excited about. This Blogger can come up with three (3) good reasons why JOHN CARTER deserves a fair look:

1. This was once an impossible project

Fifty years ago, Francis Ford Coppola turned down the opportunity to direct THE LORD OF THE RINGS, calling the book “unfilmable”. It is fair to say that the book, JOHN CARTER AND THE PRINCESS OF MARS, with its vast alien landscapes, epic battles and fantasy characters, was also considered to be too big and too difficult to be put to screen. It took fifty years for technology to catch up with author J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision of Middle-Earth, and once it did, the triumph of THE LORD OF THE RINGS films is now a shining moment in movie history. Now, JOHN CARTER may not be the next LOTR, but for any fans of movies and/or fantasy/sci-fi in general should be excited for a once “unfilmable” book to be coming to life on the big screen.

2. Andrew Stanton is in charge

Andrew Stanton is the creative genius who has given us WALL*E and FINDING NEMO. He directed and wrote both of those flicks, and he has also written MONSTERS INC., A BUG’S LIFE and all three TOY STORY films. On the surface, he seems an odd choice for JOHN CARTER, as this huge spectacle is his very first live-action film. But considering his background in (Pixar) animation, he really is the perfect fit. An adaptation of this magnitude requires a vast amount of visual imagination, and Stanton has proven he can do that in every Pixar film he has directed and written. He wrote the screenplay for JOHN CARTER, which is a great sign; no one has brought better characters to life in the world of animation over the past 17 years.

3. This is really the beginning of it all

Dismissing JOHN CARTER as a rip-off of AVATAR and STAR WARS is a natural thing for today’s short attention-spanned YouTube generation who can’t watch anything longer than five minutes. Let’s remember that Burrough’s John Carter novels were first written in 1911. 1911!!! It is unfair to say JOHN CARTER is ripping off AVATAR and ATTACK OF THE CLONES when it is CARTER’s source material which has inspired modern science fiction in the first place. Maybe we are all desensitized to huge CGI spectacle in today’s movies (it’s everywhere every year), but it deserves to be given a fair look as the great-great-great-great-great-grandfather of sci-fi and fantasy films.

JOHN CARTER opens this Friday.

What say you?

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