This one’s been a long time coming.
So far, timing has kept me out of the loop on all things “John Carter.” I didn’t visit the set. I didn’t visit Pixar to see footage with Andrew Stanton. My one real afternoon around pre-production art from the film was an accident because of where Disney held a “TRON: Legacy” event. And through all of this, I’ve been perfectly content to wait, because this is one of those films that will arrive with a lot of history attached to it, and I’d rather wait and let them show us whatever they’re happy with when they’re happy with it.
I love pulp fiction of all types. The “John Carter Of Mars” books by Edgar Rice Burroughs are great, spirited, inventive adventure novels that have been picked clean by people borrowing ideas and inspiration from them over the years. One of my biggest questions about this film is how they plan to make it feel fresh when so many movies have stolen elements of the source material over the years. It would be like making a “Lensman” movie and having to deal with angry “Star Wars” fans yelling about getting ripped off. Sometimes, you wait so long to make something that there’s a chance it is going to feel like the imitation even if it’s not.
Looking at this first teaser for “John Carter,” I think there’s a lot of promise on display. I like Taylor Kitsch on “Friday Night Lights” but thought he was awkward and poorly used in “Wolverine,” so he remains a question mark for me. At least looking at him and Lynne Collins together here (I guess Stanton reeeeeeeeeally liked “Wolverine”), they are both striking and it does work in the film’s favor that they don’t have long histories as movie stars. I’d rather get to know Dejah Thoris and John Carter than watch Mark Wahlberg and, say, Angelina Jolie run around fighting aliens. Casting less-known actors in the roles makes room for that. And the use of locations and sets gives this a more grounded and concrete feeling up front, and I’m actually surprised how little of it seems to be CG or greenscreen.
Right now, all they’re selling is tone, and the use of the Arcade Fire song (performed here by Peter Gabriel) gives it a different vibe than many action movie trailers. It’s nice, and I watched it a few times. I don’t think it answers every question, but it’s not meant to. This is a teaser, and unlike the oh-so-boring poster, this actually teases. It’s an intriguing introduction to a world, and now I’m excited to see more.
“John Carter” arrives on our world March 9, 2012.