Reports are out this morning around the web of a preview session in London yesterday featuring a Q and A with Taylor Kitsch, and also questions with a number of the key VFX players in the film. Aside from the Q and A, the session included screening of a number of clips from the film — not trailers, but actual scenes, and the commentary on those scenes is interesting and revealing.
One side note that was encouraging to hear–the Disney exec who introduced the sessions described Edgar Rice Burroughs as:
‘The science-fiction fantasy Rosetta Stone, particularly for a number of filmmakers, a number of authors to come. The inspiration from these [books] are far-reaching, and I think, hopefully, you’ll identify a number of those.
This is something that the ERBophiles have been clamoring for, feeling that the promotion thus far has missed an opportunity to position the film as the definitive “true source” for the dozens of successful films and franchises that have drawn heavily on Burroughs — Star Wars, Avatar, and others. The issue in this regard is not simply giving credit to Burroughs; rather, it is causing potential viewers to recognize that Burroughs, 100 years after he wrote the first John Carter Novel (and Tarzan, in the same year) is still relevant today and a worthy source for the mega gamble that Disney has placed on this material.
Another bit that caught my eye was Nash Sibanda, writing in the Hollywood News, about one of the clips:
The most striking of all the clips is a battle scene, with Carter facing down a vast number of Martian warriors in order to allow Tarkas and Dejah Thoris the chance to escape. He fights with skill and deftness, leaping from fray to fray with the great height he can achieve on the red planet. The scene is intercut with Carter’s discovery of his dead wife, in the ruins of his home in Virginia, and his subsequent burial of her. It’s a wonderful emotional counterpoint, as he is offered a chance at redemption for his inability to save the first love of his life. When exactly this scene occurs in the film is unsure, as is the circumstances surrounding it. Suffice it to say, it’s an emotional climax of some magnitude.
Now….there has been a tremendous amount of debate among Burroughs fans over Stanton’s decision to saddle John Carter with a dead wife and daughter–a departure from the book that has provoked displeasure from the purists, and understandably so. This is the first indication, however, of what precisely Stanton has done with this device. There is a clue in one of the trailers when Carter says: “I was too late once, that’s not happening again”, and if you couple that with the description above, it seems that Stanton has managed to maneuver that idea in such a way as to add depth, meaning, and emotional impact into the battle scene in question–something that is always a challenge in action pictures. At least Sibanda, who it may be presumed is not a Burroughs purist, seemed to think it was effective and that’s interesting.
Here is the full story as it appear the The Hollywood News.