John Carter? Edgar Rice Burroughs Done Right

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[This is a REALLY good article.  Read it all.}  Being a hard-core Edgar Rice Burroughs fan has always had a little element of torture to it. Which Burroughs would have liked, since he larded quite a few torture scenes into his books.

The torment has been this: Movies spun from his novels about Tarzan, “The Land That Time Forgot” and other creations came and went, and they were awful. B-grade insults. Mental whippings of frustration. Well, except for maybe the first half of 1984’s “Greystoke” and the campy fun of a few cartoons and Johnny Weissmuller flicks.

But none of them ever came close to being a first-class effort at sticking to the true spirit of Burroughs’ books – that throat-grabbing barrage of adventure, mystery and romance that made him one of the most successful novelists of all time and the literary hero of anyone who loves a really rippin’ page-turner of a yarn. This often is thought of as a boys’ thing, but there are plenty of gals who dig the guy, too. Burroughs wrote the kinds of stories you read as a kid under the sheets with a flashlight and then gobble up all over again as an adult, like the treasures from Stephen King or J.R.R. Tolkien.

There was one abomination that rose above them all, though, and it has vexed us so-called ERB fans for decades. And that is that nobody – amazingly, inexplicably, astonishingly – has ever made a decent movie out of Burroughs’ most transcendent creation, John Carter of Mars.

Until now.

Disney’s new cinematic stab at the ERB legend is exploding onto the big screen Friday, and I use the word “exploding” because that is just what it feels like to me, my brother Chris and legions of other Burroughs fans whose bookshelves enshrine the well-thumbed 11-book Mars series of our youths and beyond. Besides, Burroughs liked things that explode.

“John Carter” has first-class production, great actors such as Willem Dafoe, “Friday Night Lights” heartthrob Taylor Kitsch in the title role and an Academy Award-winning director in Andrew Stanton, who is a lifelong Burroughs fanatic. The many scenes I’ve watched and the production notes I’ve pored over look, at last, like someone actually loved the books the way I do before they started rolling the cameras. All the magnificently imaginative elements that sprang from Burroughs’ mind when he penned his Mars series are in there.

And oh, what a series it was.
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One thought on “John Carter? Edgar Rice Burroughs Done Right

  • “If nothing else comes out of this movie, I hope that 10,000 12-year-olds will walk out and go into their local Barnes & Noble and discover how these books are really fun. Lasting fun.””

    This quote by Chabon says it all. I’ve been meaning to post it myself since I read it. Thanks for doing so, Dotar Sojat.

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