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John Carter
#1
I had never read any of the Barsoom novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, but then when I was planning on seeing the movie, I thought I should read the book it is based on first (A Princess of Mars.) I prefer to do that so that I can compare the movie to the novel.

I saw the movie in 3D. It was also shown in IMAX 3D, but the theater stopped showing it in IMAX after just a few days, which was before I was ready to see it.

On the whole, I think the movie improved on the novel a little bit. It gave an explanation for how John Carter got from Jasoom (Earth) to Barsoom (Mars). The motivations for why some characters did what they did made better sense in the movie, except for where the novel gave a more in-depth explanation for the back history and relationship between Tars Tarsis and Sola.

I think it was cool that the screenwriters/producers decided to work Edgar Rice Burroughs himself into the story line. That added a little interest, and worked pretty well.

As for how far John Carter could jump--the movie got just a bit carried away. What I remember reading is that Mars has about one-third of Earth's gravity. Unencumbered by a heavy space suit, a man who can jump four feet straight up on earth should be able to jump 12 feet straight up on Mars.

The official, verified long distance jump record is currently 8.95 meters (29.3635 feet) according to Wickipedia. So if John Carter were an olympic athelete as good as Mike Powell or Carl Lewis, he could long jump a maximum of a little over 88 feet. That would be impressive. He should be a superman compared to an indigenous Martian.

However, in the movie, we see John Carter jumping what has to be over 100 yards or more, which is plain ridiculous.

Anyone growing up in the lighter gravity of Mars should be tall and slender, like a beanstalk. So Dejah Thoris should not be so beautiful. At least she should tower over John Carter.

I don't know if the movie is going to show a net loss, like many people are saying. (It was said to cost $250 million to produce.) Too bad if that is the case. I think Disney did a good job, and it would be nice to see a sequel or two. (Burroughs wrote many sequels.)

I think there is a chance that this movie could be a sleeper, that develops a big fan following over the course of time. That is what happened for the original Star Trek TV series. Which the network stupidly killed--and then over the next four decades the series went on to spawn four more TV series and about a dozen movies.
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#2
I saw the Imax version, and was entertained for several reasons.

First off, when my kids were going through elementary school, my wife volunteered as an art lecturer and did programs on W. C. Escher, Frank Frazetta, and the Brothers Hildebrant. Escher was fun, especially the paper-folding, the Hildebrants were their own kind of zany (Art for Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings - but Frazetta was very well received for his illustrations on the Edgar Rice Burrough's novels. Any of his covers guaranteed a half-million sales. For me, I must compare the movie imagery with what Frazetta did, and Andrew Stanton did a fair job of meeting expectations. (I did suggest the artists for the school presentations and helped prepare the materials.)

[Image: Frazetta-John-Carter-painting1.jpeg]

The novels were based on the "I didn't really write this novel, I just found the manuscript in a trunk" idea. Not a really good writing-style now - but quite intriguing in its day. Edgar Rice Burroughs was always in his books as the trunk-pilferer. I don't like the whole idea of the "Thems" being the cause of Carter's movements through space, as well as the mutual enemy of all life anywhere. Borgs without borders. I prefer the movie to match the author's works - not have a Hollywood gadfly insert his ideas wholesale until nothing is left of the original. In the novels, Carter leaped to the red spark in the sky because he was always drawn to it as his warrior's icon. The whole medallion idea is just re-writing.

I was entertained by the computer technology that so seamlessly created the Martians and the airships. Some Yahoo tried to say the Tars Tarkas character was reminiscent of jar Jar Binks - but it wasn't. Dafoe did a good job of voice-over, and the creatures were all well-designed. Gollum and Mass-Effect 3 have set new standards in believability.

Perhaps Pern will be next. If so, it will be interesting to see if McCaffery's novels stay as character studies or get turned into SFX.

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#3
I'm watching it right now, but take frequent breaks. The one thing, up front, that I am finding fault with is the gravity issue. Obviously they are attaching the actor to strings and moving him around that way. And they are doing a 'ham-fisted' job of it all.

The scene with him having trouble adjusting to one third gravity is less than satisfactory. and even with such low gravity, a person would not be able to jump quite that high, and not break his/her neck on the return to the ground. I'm sure they will attempt to exploit his extra super powers throughout the movie.

I think they did a great job with the Tharks' physiology makeup.
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"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#4
Since I saw that Imax version, I've reread the John Carter books - and the Frazetta illustrations are still the best part. II have them on my nook - but made a point to replace whatever cover art was attached by the Frazetta drawings. He retired to live in a castle on an island, and still rolls up cigarettes in his tee shirt sleeve a lá Fonzie.)

The Therns do play a part in the novels - ( I swear they were called "Thems" in the movie website info I first encountered ) but their magical super-science is still a tedious Hollywood rewrite. The movie also elides the Carter - Tars Tarkas friendship. Most good SF is good literature - not just space-opera action stuff. And Dejah Thoris wasn't Frazetta-enough.

BTW, Carter's super-ability because of being on Mars was always noticed as being more than gravity - perhaps except by Burroughs. I think the ability of superness coming to a Kryptonese immigrant is taken directly from John Carter. Being on a different world imbued powers unattributable to science. Red sun, Yellow sun, yeah - sure! What gave the superabilities some literary foundation was the definition of some magical "warriors-pull" that was able to propell John Carter instantly across the Solar system. ...Same Olympian flavor to his incarnation on Barsoom.
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#5
I know I am taking this piecemeal, but I am getting the feeling that the movie is just too 'cheezy'.

I can see why it wasn't a success. With today's audience, the science is just too far beyond what Burroughs dreamed up almost a century ago. Its no longer science fiction at all, and almost totally fantasy, which means little to no basis on fact. And since I am a 'hard' SciFi person, this doesn't sit well with me, like it did in the early 60s.

I can see why it will not be a continuing series.



Incidentally, I think whoever did the CGI effects on the movie should have been fired. The scenes of Carter jumping from ship to ship, like a hot flea, is just too much for me to stomach. That effect is even worse than some Saturday morning matinee for kids on the TV screen.
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"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#6
I don't think it was ever intended for sequels. Too many novels were compiled into one presentation to do that.

A good redo, done properly, could be as fun and engaging as Sherlock Holmes. Tarzan and all the "Center of the Earth" flicks are not hard science, either, but made money for the filmmakers. Good literature is about good characterization and a good storyline can work without needing physicists as the prime audience. I am hoping someone does a good job with McCaffery's Pern series. The science may actually work for her - but it is a leap.
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#7
I read her original "Ship who Sang", but I think that is it. No, it was the "Freedom Series" that really ended it for me. She just kept getting into all that gender evaluation stuff, and I put it down and never returned. I always viewed the female writers as too 'touchy feely' and fantasy inclined. I did read some Norton, but not much. She tried straddling the fence, but you didn't know going in which was which.

Although I really did pretty much go all out with Lois McMaster Bujold. She was a good writer who even men felt comfortable reading. C.J. Cherryh was a bit border line for me, but I did read some of her harder stuff, like Heavy Time and DownBelow Station. As long as she doesn't get in to all that gender role evaluation stuff, she can be ok.

But getting back to John Carter, I still have it paused about 2/3s of the way through. I can't get excited about it.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#8
Ok, I finished the movie. My other major complaint with the movie is that it is just too dark. The scenes are hard to distinguish, which means they had to hide the quality, or lack thereof, of the scenes.

The movie lacks cohesiveness, and I can see why it did not make it as a hit. And that's a shame.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#9
Yeah, Doesn't it seem like the stories we remember from childhood should be sacrosanct from Hollywood misuse, just to make a buck? Peter Jackson did it right - but what other vehicles do you remember that did a fair job of filming a SF classic?

I can think of Dune, Charly (Flowers for Algernon), and a scant few others. 2001, and Star Wars were not real classics in literature.
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#10
Now that you mention Herbert's "Dune", it suddenly came to me just why I can't stand reading fantasy. And Dune is the perfect example of fantasizing something that offered so much potential. After slogging through "Dune" I never even considered reading any sequels.

I didn't even attempt to read the book that so many claimed to be the greatest story ever told, until I was in tanker training at Fort Knox, in 1968, just before going to OCS at Benning. It was during the Vietnam War, and my preoccupation with all this may have somewhat swayed my impressions, but I considered Herbert to be such a Kook, and the work to be so 'out of this world' that I never even entertained a second thought about reading anything he put in writing, ever again.

This is really where I came to be so anti-fantasy, and I thank you for reminding me of it. Had the storyline been written by L. Sprague de Camp, who possessed a fantastic sense of humour, I would have perhaps enjoyed the work much more. de Camp was such a good writer that anyone could appreciate even the most unbelievable. But certainly not Herbert.

Anyway, thanks for the reminder.
___________________________________________________________________________________________________
"INSIDE EVERY PROGRESSIVE IS A TOTALITARIAN SCREAMING TO GET OUT" - David Horowitz

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#11
I don't know who would regard Dune as "the greatest story ever told." Maybe Moslems would, since the desert nomads seem so much like Moslem Jihadists. They also remind me of the "sand people" in Star Wars. Lucas did not treat them very sympathetically.

There is plenty more in the later Barsoom (John Carter) novels, enough that at least one sequel movie could be made. But there probably is not enough interest in it to make the project appealing to investors. I can't say that the literary cause of science fiction would be set back too far by the omission. In fact, maybe SyFy would be better off without any John Carter sequels.

Speaking of Peter Jackson, I hope he is able to do as good a job on The Hobbit as he did on the Ring trilogy. I would be surprised if he can get another three movies out of it, though, as has been rumored. It would be best as just one stand-alone movie, I think. Maybe two--but even then it would seem unnecessarily drawn out. It is not really that big a story. Unless Jackson greatly expands on the viewpoints and backstories of the dwarves and the elves. Maybe he could expand on the defeat of the dragon, which deserved more attention than Tolkien gave to it.
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#12
(10-15-2012, 02:26 PM)John L Wrote: ...After slogging through "Dune" I never even considered reading any sequels.

Dune was a oner, I think. The initial novel is considered one of the better classics, and there are as many fandom cults based on it as any SF author out there. I do agree that the sequels were terrible. The one thing I point out, is that the movie was very true to the initial novel - due to Herbert having rewrite and approval throughout. The SFX of twisting space was terrible - as were the dream scenes - but the rest was pretty good. The Emperor's Sardaukar were laughable, though, and hardly matched the image painted in the novels as incredibly superior warriors.

The release of the film didn't do well at the box office, and Lynch used the pseudonym Alan Smithee, a dodge for Directors to avoid being associated with a flop.
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