In 1912, Edgar Rice Burroughs released his first book, in what would become a very popular book series known as the Barssom series, called ‘A Princess of Mars‘. The story revolved around a former Civil War soldier named John Carter, who had lost everything he knew and cared about. One day, Carter is mysteriously transported to Mars, in the middle of the planet being on the brink of war. John must once again find himself, finally be the man he was meant to be. Almost a hundred years after it’s first book was released, Disney is bring John Carter back to life in a new live action movie, written and directed by Andrew Stanton (Wall-E, Finding Nemo) and starring Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, Willem Dafoe, and Lynne Collins. At D23 this weekend, we we’re shown four new clips from the movie and I thought I’d share my thoughts on what we saw.
The footage we saw was still a bit rough, so not everything was finished. But what we saw was really, really good. The first clip we saw focused on after John Carter arrives on Mars, and he’s discovered by an alien hunting party, led by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe, in full CGI-Motion Capture glory). Carter soon realizes this planet is different, as he realizes he can jumped higher and farther than he was able to before, and uses what he has just learned to his advantage to get away from his new enemies. The scene was clever, and had quite a bit of tension. I was really glad to see this that they kept the tone of the books in tact with the transition to film. Dafoes’s character Tars looks really, really incredible. The CGI is top notch, and I’m very excited to see so much care was taken in bringing this character to life. Taylor Kitsch was also quite good as Carter. He was a bit fearless and cocky, but played the hero well. I’m really looking forward to seeing his full performance.
The second scene we we’re shown involved Carter, not long after the first scene we saw, imprisoned and chained to a wall. He breaks free only to discover he’s been guarded by a big dog looking alien. As it turns out, the alien is actually very playful and enjoying chasing after John as he escapes. This character is going to be one little kids are going to love. He’s a cute character, one that they’ll attach to early on and parents will be buying plush characters of him after the movie. The scene was very funny, and had a lot of jumping and running, so it was never dull. Again, Kitsch was good as John Carter, and really plays the confused hero well.
Now the third clip we were shown was a much more dramatic, slower scene in the movie between John Carter and the Princess Dejah Thoris. The Princess is being forced to marry someone to try and keep the peace, and John is trying to talk her out of it. She asks him why, but he doesn’t give her an answer. Men show up at the door, trying to get into her room, and she frantically tells John the way to use a device that will transport him some place else. She tells him the words, and makes him repeat it. As the doors finally open, they ask her if she’s alone. The camera pans around the room, with John no where to be seen. She begins to tear up, saying yes. This scene was very well done, and shows that, even with Andrew Stanton working in live action, he knows how to bring real emotion to a movie. Collins and Kitsch both have very good, real chemistry together in the scene, and it felt very real. I was very, very impressed with it. It should definitely be a standout moment in the movie.
As the Carter panel came to a close, we were shown one final scene. This is an action packed scene with Carter and Tars, who are fighting a giant creature in a Colosseum duel. I’m not sure where in the movie this takes place, but Carter and Tars are now friends. Carter’s leg is chained to a rock, so as he tries to jump he can’t jump farther than the radius the chain will let him. Tars is hurt, so John is trying to to protect him. We weren’t shown too much, but the brief clip was very exciting. It had a lot of very well shot action, and it looked very cool. This was the most action packed of the scenes we were shown, and Stanton delivered in spades. This clip really got my pumped for the movie. It just goes to show that he was absolutely the right choice to do the movie.
‘John Carter’ looks to be a standout movie of next year. The cast is great, and Stanton has seemed to transition from animation to live action very effortlessly. I’m very excited to see more from this movie over the next few months, but all concerns I had for it were gone after this weekend. Disney showed they were the right company to bring the character of John Carter to the big screen, and I’m glad they are. March 9, 2012 can’t get here soon enough, and I know I’ll be in the theater opening day.
Thank you for D23 Media for the photo.
- ‘John Carter: World of Mars’ Comic from Marvel Entertainment/Disney Publishing (chipandco.com)
- Walt Disney Studios to Release John Carter in IMAX 3D in March 2012 (chipandco.com)