Disney is reaping substantial positive rewards from the preview screening of 5 clips from John Carter, plus Q and A with Taylor Kitsch and the VFX team, held in London on Thursday night. Today ThePeoplesMovies.com has come out with what is now becoming a steady chorus of positive reports on the event, and the movie — based on the clips seen.
From the moment I found out about it, I was looking forward to John Carter. A film adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels that basically invented the sci fi fantasy genre had my inner geek all excited. Reading the first novel, A Princess of Mars, has only increased my anticipation. Despite some inevitable early-19th century imperialist undertones (John Carter is clearly bearing a White Man’s Burden), the book is an excellent read: not deeply thematic, but well-paced and generally captivating. As such I went into this event (a showing of 5 short clips from the movie, with a Q&A to follow), with fairly high expectations. I left it with even higher ones.
Part of the reason for this was the clips themselves. Taken together they played out as a summary of the character arc of John Carter. He remains Burrough’s ultimate man of war, only given extra depth via a tragic backstory. For the most part the clips were comic pieces where John (Taylor Kitsch) adjusts to suddenly finding himself on Mars, and is confronted with some truly bizarre aliens. At this point, I should mention that the animators have done a great job on the character animation, the highlight of this being that Willem Dafoe, even mo-capped into the body of a 9ft, four-armed, noseless Martian, still looks like Willem Dafoe.
By the fourth clip, I figured the film would meet the expectations set by the book, and be a shallow, yet entertaining, thrill ride. But the fifth clip changed that. This was a moment when Carter sacrifices himself for his Princess, and is pulled off with an emotional strength that managed to silence even an audience of critics.
My hopes for John Carter being a deeply rewarding experience were further enhanced by the following Q&A. The most commonly recurring theme of this was the reverence Animation Supervisor Eamonn Butler, Visual Effects Supervisor Sue Rowe and lead Taylor Kitsch all bore for Writer-Director Andrew Stanton (who previously directed Finding Nemo and Wall-E, writing the latter as well). With this being Statton’s first foray into real-life filmmaking (his previous jobs having been all in animation) apparently buttocks were at first firmly clenched. However, by the sound of it, they are currently severely loosened.
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