So, at what point, if any, does Stanton’s John Carter become ERB’s John Carter?

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What triggered this question was MCR coming on and saying maybe Taylor Kitsch’s John Carter should win a People’s Choice Award for “Whiniest Super Hero” . . . we’ve all been there, done that, as far as the argument about Andrew Stanton’s flawed John Carter in search of redemption, and Edgar Rice Burroughs “Galahad” like knight in search of a worthy cause.  So I don’t want to revisit that.

But whether you regard Stanton’s John Carter as “whiny” (negative)  or “brooding” (positive) …. the fact is, he evolves over the course of the movie and by the end it’s pretty hard to argue that there’s very much daylight between Stanton’s John Carter and Burroughs’ John Carter.  (I can think of one possible counter to that assertion — but only one — and I’m curious if anyone comes up with it.)

But let’s reverse engineer this and work backwards.  Surely the John Carter who goes into the tomb and tells Ned to find a cause, write a book, is pretty much the John Carter from the books.

What about the John Carter searching for a way back to Barsoom?

Going back farther — the John Carter who heaved the medallion off the balcony?

The John Carter who asked Dejah to marry him?

The John Carter who flew to Dejah’s rescue at the wedding of Sab Than?

(Still with me — no whiny Carter yet, right?)

The John Carter who fought the white apes and rallied the Tharks?

Okay . . . I’ll stop.  But the question is open — does John Carter of the movie become the character of the books?  And if so, when does that transition finally become complete?

35 comments

  • MCR, you’re 100% right. But what you fail to see is that even with those changes, there is still enough of A Princess of Mars to make the adaptation stand out from the crowd, and it’s thanks to ERB.

    John Carter being heroic, yes it’s late in the movie (but there were hints before), anyway it’s there. Dejah Thoris as a strong character, it’s less subtle than in the book but it’s there. The relationship between Tars Tarkas and Sola, it’s there, even if inverted. Woola. The prologue and epilogue with ERB himself. Carter’s vault. Carter sacrificing himself against the Warhoons, it’s perhaps one of the strongest scene in the books, it’s there. Airships (about the only thing Stanton’s Carter express a sense of wonder for). The religion of Issus established.

    I don’t think there is one instance where Stanton’s and his coworkers’ choices made the movie better. Rationalizing the transport method to Barsoom creates more logical problems than anything (but it’s generally praised), making the Therns so powerful also, moving Zodanga is somewhat ridiculous, white apes meh, making the movie not stand-alone but the first chapter of a trilogy hurts it even more. But even distilled (you would say diluted), all the elements are there in place, and they’re all ERB’s in essence, if not in execution.

    I’m all for a reboot, but it won’t happen when the first one is perceived as such a failure. No one will touch it, or any ERB’s properties. I still think the best thing that could happen is for Stanton to finish the trilogy, and prove the validity of ERB’s ideas, even at the price of an adaptation.

    You chose to see what’s not there, I was that way too, but I ultimately began to see what’s there, and that’s quite a lot, even if in a different form.

  • MCR that was your most polite and probably most substantive rant yet. Bravo.

    Obviously John Carter himself. The constant defense is that Stanton’s version was to make him more “human” and even your comment about trying to find redemption. Well wasn’t Burroughs’ Carter on a quest to find redempetion too? He lost a war that left him jobless and penniless with no home to return to. Going to Barsoom allowed him to redeem himself and find a purpose. That was all there without the dead family adding a cliched reason for it.

    Um … I completely agree that there was so much there in the original that seems to have just fired past not just Stanton . . . . but Chabaon, Mark Andrews, even Jim Morris (I’ve just been video editing his speech at dum-dum and he drank the same kool-aid)…… the thing is, I don’t hate hate hate the choices they made but I don’t agree with them and I have said here various times that there was plenty to work with from the books without having to create a whole new rationale for John Carter. Absolutely, JC’s telling us something when he says: ” At the close of the Civil War I found myself possessed of several hundred thousand dollars (Confederate) and a captain’s commission in the cavalry arm of an army which no longer existed; the servant of a state which had vanished with the hopes of the South. Masterless, penniless, and with my only means of livelihood, fighting, gone, I determined to work my way to the southwest and attempt to retrieve my fallen fortunes in a search for gold.” Of course he relates this to us with a wry smile . . . . it’s up to us, the readers, to read between the lines and contemplate what his true state of mind was at the time he was enduring all this.

    Or this: “So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living
    forever; that some day I shall die the real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death, I who have died twice and am still alive; but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced of my mortality.”

    How lonely and disconnected is that life? Watching others grow old and die . . . not doing the same yourself . . . not having a childhood to remember. “Conflict” in stories is not necessary “conflict” …. sometimes it’s a need that’s not fulfilled, a lack or a yearning, and the setup for Carter to have that kind of poignant soulful yearning was handled so well by ERB . . . but I swear I think a lot of readers skipped the setup, never contemplated it, and secretly skipped to “My Advent on Mars” and started reading from there.

    Oh well . . . I still don’t feel their choices were terrible …. just unnecessary and a missed opportunity.

  • Dotar Sojat wrote:
    “MCR, I agree that undercut the clarity of the Warhoon scene — and that in turn makes me really wonder why they came up with the reshoot solution they did for the scene in Dejah’s chambers.”

    At this point who knows what their thinking was. The only theory I have-and yes it is more anti-Stanton bashing just to let you know-is that he just couldn’t stand to have this film in any way resemble A Princess of Mars since it would no longer be his vision but an adaptation of a book that he’s made clear he thinks very little of. For example:

    Obviously John Carter himself. The constant defense is that Stanton’s version was to make him more “human” and even your comment about trying to find redemption. Well wasn’t Burroughs’ Carter on a quest to find redempetion too? He lost a war that left him jobless and penniless with no home to return to. Going to Barsoom allowed him to redeem himself and find a purpose. That was all there without the dead family adding a cliched reason for it.

    Turning Powell from Carter’s friend to the a Colonel badgering him. What did that serve except to prolong the opening and PC it to avoid making the Apaches seem savage.

    The original story of Tars Tarkas and Sola. I mean both reach the same outcome but in the novel we at least understand Sola’s actions from spending time to her mother and not wanting to ruin Tars’ chances of rising in the ranks but in the movie? Tars just allows his daughter to be tortured and pushed around for what purpose?

    Dejah Thoris herself. Contrary to Stanton’s viewpoint Dejah is not some weak character. As you poined out she even gets off her thoat, ready to stay with Carter. Now making her a scientist did flesh her out more but the 9th ray nonsense was a useless macguffin, unless it was tied into the Atmosphere Plant. And of course Stanton couldn’t have that. Shape shifting super Therns are more fun! (Maybe they can team up with Thanos for Avengers 2 since that’s where they belong).

    Turning Tardors Mors into a wimp. And Tars for that matter as well. Yeah that’s improving them. I guess keeping them as strong men and rulers didn’t interest Stanton.

    The opening and ending. We know Stanton hated the original opening since his reaction to the Brain Trust suggesting it was “that’s lazy guys.” No it works. I guess a Stantonian version of The Wizard of Oz would have opened with the Scarecrow narrating “The Rainbow. You call it the Rainbow but we call it….OZ.” It allows the viewer and reader a first person identitification instead of dumping a bunch of information on us. Also the punch of Burroughs’ ending was Carter had no way to return. Giving him a golden ticket back robbed the film of what could have been an emotional climax more gripping than Stanton’s “shoot and rob a Thern” solution.

    I’ll stop ranting for now that’s my thought as to why Stanton’s Carter doesn’t resemble Burroughs’. He didn’t want it to since that would be admitting that this “lowly” pulp writer that he has little respect for actually knew how to tell a story.

  • MCR
    That shout out to you and the acknowledgement that you don’t like the intercutting was my attempt to take that out of the equation. My last sentence should have been ” I was just specifically answering the title question on a purely surface level”. Not “It was ….”
    I was trying to separate my answer as a purely visual and visceral moment, not in any way connected to the narrative or emotional aspects of the story and forgetting about the intercutting. Just action wise, the intensity of the battle, the overwhelming odds, the scores of dead bodies, the Frazetta-ish poses. That brief glorious scene was exactly how I envisoned all those great battles from the ERB books. None of the other battles in the movie came close to capturing that kind of frenzy.

    My answer to when AS’s JC became John Carter of Mars within the movie, remains the scene in Dejah’s chamber as I said in my first comment. Hazl 9000 and I are seeing the same thing.

    Dotar
    Just because he decided to save Dejah from the Warhoon’s did not have to mean that he was fully commiting to her at that moment. Her hand was on his, he knew she had feelings for him because she didn’t reject him when he kissed her in the temple, he had feelings for her, he was the instigator for that kiss. His inate sense of gallantry, that he had been fighting against due to his conflict about being a part of anybodies war, kicked in and he couldn’t save his wife but he could try and save Dejah and Sola.

    He didn’t really become aware that he personally couldn’t just leave Dejah until he was given the means to go back to Earth but he chose not to do that and instead started off to follow Dejah. This is pretty subtle stuff for an action blockbuster, but that is why this is not an empty Prince of Persia, but a real emotional, rewarding story. That scene is closer to the original shot version than you are giving it credit for. IMHO

  • I think they changed the Zodanga scene to fit the movie romance formula. Both of them have to give up what they’ve been chasing up to that point in the story and choose to be with each other. Dejah quits trying to enlist his help in the war and sets him free by giving him the medallion and instructions how to use it. JC chooses to stay for Dejah. That’s Dejah’s moment of strength in the script – she sets JC free and accepts the arranged marriage to Sab Than so it’s clear JC makes his own choice to stay for her.

  • MCR, I agree that undercut the clarity of the Warhoon scene — and that in turn makes me really wonder why they came up with the reshoot solution they did for the scene in Dejah’s chambers. As I wrote way down at the beginning of this thread — that scene as originally written and shot was very different. It was more or less like it was in the book. He was there to rescue her; she couldn’t accept his rescue because duty compelled her to marry Sab Than. Thus his actions would have been consistent with my interpretation of the Warhoon scene, and Dejah would have had her “duty before love” moment. But . . . . somehow, in part simply to shorten the scene, they came up with the formulation that’s there now and I think this is one of the most unfortunate choices they made. On debating points you might win the argument but I think emotionally most people — the vast majority of whom loved the Warhoon scene — respond to it the way I am responding, and so as a filmmaker’s choice, that has to be considered. For every MCR and Dotar geek duo breaking it down like this, there are zillions of regular old viewers who just saw it and responded to it emotionally and found it powerful and compelling.

  • Dotar Sojat wrote:
    “I felt it as farewell, I’m finally moving on, honorably . . . . . . .rest in peace. You don’t have to worry about me anymore . . . . I’m no longer drifting and pointless (yes, Carter pointless!) . . . I’ve found meaning and a home.”

    And that might be fine except was does Carter do next? When asked point blank by Dejah Thoris will you stay and fight for us what does he do? He waffles. He does what he’s done for a vast majority of the movie up to this point, he thinks only of himself. If he had found a meaning and a home he would have said yes, I will stay to fight for you and Helium. He doesn’t, even though the novel’s Carter does despite Dejah telling him to go and “to bear the sorrow” with her as she’s about to marry.

  • Pascalahad wrote:

    In the scene with the little stones representing planets, John Carter says “Earth. Us”, if I’m not mistaken.

    Yup, you’re right. I’m wrong. He did think he was still on Earth. Hmm…….

  • MCR wrote:

    But I don’t agree that this scene indicates that he’s now ERB’s John Carter of Mars because this isn’t killing the Warhoons in self defense or to allow Dejah to escape. Instead due to the intercutting it becomes a scene about some guy with pent up anger about not being able to save his wife and kid taking out his aggression. Basically it is The Outlaw Josey Wales, just not as well done. If it had just been Carter doing this to allow Dejah and Sola to escape then great, he would have shown his bravery and his willingness to put down his life for them. But it gets muddled with the intercutting and loses the impact of him becoming John Carter of Mars and falling in love with Dejah.

    That’s where I think your hostility to all things Stanton clouds your judgment. You’re putting a very literal reading on it that may or may not be correct. Was what we were seeing his pent-up anger or a purgation and farewell? My sense of it is that most people relate to it as the latter. The Warhoons had nothing to do with his wife’s death . . . . . and I didn’t see it as anger. I felt it as farewell, I’m finally moving on, honorably . . . . . . .rest in peace. You don’t have to worry about me anymore . . . . I’m no longer drifting and pointless (yes, Carter pointless!) . . . I’ve found meaning and a home.

  • Dotar wrote: “Well I never took it that he thought he was on Earth . . . . he just didn’t know where he was.”

    In the scene with the little stones representing planets, John Carter says “Earth. Us”, if I’m not mistaken.

  • Bob Page wrote:
    “MCR and his posse, I know you do not like the intercutting with the recently deceased Mrs. Carter and think it detracts from the scene. A great many people consider it the emotional high point. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. It is just specifically answering the title question on a purely surface level.”

    I didn’t know I had a posse but still.

    And yes cutting to Mrs. Carter destroyed the scene for a number of reasons. But I don’t agree that this scene indicates that he’s now ERB’s John Carter of Mars because this isn’t killing the Warhoons in self defense or to allow Dejah to escape. Instead due to the intercutting it becomes a scene about some guy with pent up anger about not being able to save his wife and kid taking out his aggression. Basically it is The Outlaw Josey Wales, just not as well done. If it had just been Carter doing this to allow Dejah and Sola to escape then great, he would have shown his bravery and his willingness to put down his life for them. But it gets muddled with the intercutting and loses the impact of him becoming John Carter of Mars and falling in love with Dejah.

    On an unrelated note, here’s some food for thought http://www.deadline.com/2012/10/arnold-and-conan-the-barbarian-reunited-universal-reboots-action-franchise-with-schwarzenegger/. If a studio is willing to make another Conan film after last year’s fiasco, then there is hope for a new-and Stantonless-John Carter of Mars movie.

  • Bob Page – no apology needed. When I first saw that scene I thought they were just being gross. 2nd or 3rd time around I got what they were saying. I assume that was the intent.

    I wondered why they used blue blood as well. Is it because Earth is a blue planet with red blooded people so Mars is a red planet with blue blooded people? Must’ve missed that explanation on the Blu-Ray extras. Probably just a way to sanitize sword slashing violence in a Disney flick. It’s just fake blue blood. For GOM they can give Carthoris purple blood.

  • I think he was the ERB version throughout the movie. Only difference was he tried to fight his true nature in the movie. He risked his life for others from beginning to end, which is the defining characteristic of JC.

  • Apologies to HAZL 9000, you are the originator of the John Carter being born when cutting his way out of the white ape. Now I kind of actually understand why that gag was used. Oh, but for they would have used a realistic red color blood, or even a darker, inkier shade of blue. Anything but that electric blue paint. But, I digress.

    My previous post was really the answer to when the movie character became JCOM. The answer to the actual title question, when did he become ERB’s John Carter, is definitely the warhoon battle. He immediately relapses out of being ERB’s John Carter when it is over, but for that brief, beautiful moment, that was exactly how I envisioned all those great hours long battles, with untold bodies piled all around from the books. It is also the only, Frazetta-ish moment in the film, in how it is framed and it’s physical intensity.

    MCR and his posse, I know you do not like the intercutting with the recently deceased Mrs. Carter and think it detracts from the scene. A great many people consider it the emotional high point. Everybody is entitled to their own opinions. It is just specifically answering the title question on a purely surface level.

  • Think it’s at the point after Carter has Sola spirit Dejah away, before he jumps into the battle against the Warhoon horde with Woola at his side. At some point during that battle, Carter is transformed from being John Carter of Earth to being John Carter of Mars. 🙂

  • pascalahad wrote:

    “John Carter learns from Dejah Thoris that he is on Mars. OK, that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me more is that all this time he thought he was on Earth. Whaaat? Was it his first night on Mars? He never noticed the two moons before? If that doesn’t make him necessarily an idiot, It doesn’t make him particularly perceptive. ”

    Well, when David Innes found himself in the hollow earth and saw an immobile sun three times larger than normal, saw a horizon that curved up, was chased by a giant sloth, was captured by monkey men, his interpretation of these things was: must be the West Indies!

    ERB heroes are not know for their smarts.

  • Barsoomian Stockholm Syndrome and a southern “gentleman”.

    If you were Dejah who would you chose?

    JC – A drunken unkempt inbred southern hillscroggin with
    churlish manners who repeatedly bellows out,
    “All I want is my cave of gold”.

    Sab Than – An empire building jeddak who enjoys
    blowin’ stuff up with his blue death ray.

    You meet a women.
    You are fascinated.
    Afterwards you see her hooked up with a total D-bag.
    How do you feel now?

  • Thanks to the Josie Wales dead wife baggage, I can’t help but draw comparisons
    between Clint and (franchise killer) Taylor.

    Clint don’t have to say a word. All he has to do is stare at the camara and
    he unerringly projects the image of a hardened scarred man who has felt the
    pain and horror of four years of civil war. Unrelenting bloodshed and carnage.

    A cival war vet who has endured vicissitudes that would shatter the soul
    of a lesser man.

    Taylor fails at making up for his lack of facial expression by repeatedly
    growling at the camara. His growling comes off as forced and terribly
    contrived.

    No matter what the script, or who the director, Taylor will NEVER be JC
    due to his highly suspect “acting”.

    Yea, if you want some1 who looks “pretty” for the ladies and flexes while
    he kills stuff, in a supporting role, in a “B” movie, then yea, Taylor is
    your man.

    A lead in a 250 mill movie? – Bad call.

    Furthermore …. the romance?

    I guess martian women must be diff then earth women.
    What happens on earth when you endanger the health of a
    women by wrenching her off her mount?
    You ain’t gettin’ laid, thats what.

    JC treats Dejah with hostility and suspicion and yet I am suppose
    to believe that a beautiful highly educated princess considers
    that to be an aphrodisiac?

    When JC shoves Dejah off the thoat the “romance” reminds me
    of the sort of “romance” that I have seen amongst “couples” when I am grocery
    shoppin’ on the poor side of town.

    A sullen wannabe thug appropriately wearing a wifebeater, issuing orders to his insignificant dismal “spouse”, who just happens to be sportin’ a swollen bruised black eye. – Yea honey, you tripped and fell.

    Perhaps Stanton should just stick to romance between robots that don’t talk.

    At no point in the movie does Taylor become JC and never will.

  • To me, the movie character was fine and Taylor Kitsch’s acting was also fine. Your reverse engineering shows a John Carter who is a fighting, chivalrous hero, all the way back to the beginning of the film. However…

    Personally, I think that Stanton’s portrayal of a “reluctant hero” was a bad choice. We certainly do not see that character trait in the books, and I am glad that the idea was tempered in the movie and not overdone, which helped me to overlook it and really enjoy the film overall.

    The modern “reluctant hero” theme has been popularized in film and in print for too long, and the latest fad of the hero with an evil streak is just as tiresome. Therefore, it would have been a welcome change for Stanton to portray John Carter as the character that ERB originally created. Far from being “old-fashioned,” it could have been a breath of fresh air for younger fans and a return to the likeable hero for older fans–a hero who transcends human flaws and sets an example to follow. (Why must our heroes today be flawed? What’s wrong with a high hero standard? Something to think about.)

    As far as the film goes, if you could simply change the few scenes that show a damaged and self-focused John Carter into scenes that show him as he is in the books–as a man who loves a good fight, who puts others first, and who always encourages hope (ref. “I still live!” in the books, for all you book fans), you’d have an improved film that is closer to the books.

    Ultimately, the movie John Carter is not really far off from the book John Carter. It’s just the “reluctant hero” theme decision of Stanton’s that blows it.

  • Comparing the book and the movie is kind of apples and oranges. The book is the book and the movie is an adaptation. The movie could have been a Brandon Whatshisname and Josh Hutchinson adaptation of a classic, and perhaps made oddles of more money, but with so little respect for the original source. We are starting to nit pick here.

    The scene in Dejah’s room after the warhoon battle that seems to be bothering a lot of people is not that far off from the originally shot version, to borrow a phrase from Ridley Scott, it is just not as much “on the nose.” As a lot of this movie is, it is just much more subtle.

    It is one thing, for the submerged, gallantry of a southern gentleman, to save some one who cared about him, and whom he was starting to have feelings for, and letting go of his love for his first wife and commiting to fight yet another WAR which cost him dearly back on Earth are still two different things.

    Dejah IS wearing the Zodangan wedding dress and is fully sucking it up and going to go through with her marriage. Carter does not just accept this, he asks here “are you serious”. Her reply is not to overtly to ask him to save HER, but to say “will you stay and fight for Helium” the emphasis on Helium. Now, anybody who was feeling this movie
    knows what she is actually saying, but she is not going to break her convenant for her personal reasons, the only way she is free is if the entire dispute with Zodanga is settled. To me personally, this is the second powerhouse emotional scene of the movie.

    Although the movie Carter is still somewhat conflicted, when given the secret magic phrase, he does not just zip back to his “cave of gold”. He begins to follow Dejah, becoming aware that he can not just abandon her. Before we can see where this might lead, he is captured by Matie Shang.

    I like Diana’s observation that symbolically John Carter of Mars is “born” cutting his way out of the White Ape, and his final symbolic act of throwing away his chance to return to Earth, just cements the deal that he is John Carter of Mars now.

  • I would say on Earth, John Carter was pretty much as I could envision, wildly impulsive. Then on Mars he is strangely passive, up to the Warhoon attack, where he indeed becomes more like John Carter from the book. I already wrote what I thought of the subsequent scene in Zodanga, to me it still doesn’t make sense.

    I would add that MCR’s remarks are very valid. Since no reason is given into the movie regarding these points, all interpretations are fair game, including “John Carter may be an idiot”. It’s not what I think, but it can be viewed that way too. The importance of the medallion in accessing the Thern hideout is clearly established in the movie, and it is an important asset that shouldn’t be tossed like that, logically. But I appreciated the symbolism of the scene nonetheless.

    I would add a comment that I hope will be amusing. John Carter learns from Dejah Thoris that he is on Mars. OK, that doesn’t bother me. What bothers me more is that all this time he thought he was on Earth. Whaaat? Was it his first night on Mars? He never noticed the two moons before? If that doesn’t make him necessarily an idiot, It doesn’t make him particularly perceptive. 🙂

  • Dotar Sojat wrote:
    “So what is your solution for how he BECOMES JC OF MARS . . . . ? Can you think of a writing fix to meet the dramatic need of an irrevocable commitment to Dejah and Helium and Barsoom, while still keeping the medallion in play?”

    How about marrying Dejah? Isn’t that an irrevocable commitment to her and staying on Barsoom? Why did he do that if he wasn’t planning on sticking around? The medallion should have nothing to do at this point with his feelings for her or wanting to be with her. His throwing it away not only was groan inducing in the “Jamie Lee Curtis throwing away the knife in Halloween” way but wouldn’t he be supportive of her research? Or has she decided to give up science and become the mere sex object that Stanton and Lynn Collins dismissed Burroughs’ Dejah Thoris as? Besides removing the Macguffin didn’t hurt the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark or Last Crusade. After all Indy left with Marion in the former and he bonded with his father in the latter and in both cases the Ark and the Grail where gone. The Macguffin is not important.

    “So he should have had it all figured out from the beginning?”

    Uh, yeah since Stanton didn’t bother to establish that there was another way to get to Barsoom. He should have known that.

    “Whose to say how long it took to figure out that there was a Thern tail? How do we even know there was a Thern tail any earlier than the end, when JC did the ruse? We don’t know that … you’re just assuming it…… ”

    And you’re assuming this Thern just happens to show up after 10 years? Were they not worried that Carter might find a medallion sooner? I mean I know the Therns and Matai Shang gave Carter a good race for Number one Idiot in this film but that just seems like more bad planning on their part. Of course if Shang had been smart he would have killed Carter to start with but as we know he wasn’t the smartest Thern down the RIver Iss was he?

    “Are you saying that the JC of the books would be above a ploy like that because he would never place dear little Ned in danger, even though he knew – absolutely knew — that he would be watching over Ned and that his shot would be good and true because he is … after all … John Carter……”

    Yeah because this wasn’t the JC of the books. It was JC of this movie and as we’ve seen-from his bouncing into things while fighting and having sword problems-poor Ned was lucky he didn’t get shot. Then again he’s probably suffering from paranoia that every person he will ever meet until the end of his days is a shape shifting alien so the psychological damage is probably more harmful.

  • MCR said:

    “March all the Tharks to an empty Zodanga. Fly into the wedding like a drunk jet skier.”

    I always figured going to Zodanga was an inside joke since in the book the wedding DID take place in Zodanga and that’s where the battle was. I see crashing thru the glass ceiling in Helium with the flier as being equivalent to his shattering the glass window in the Zodangan palace to stop the wedding. In the book he used the hilt of his sword to break it instead of a flier since they had ridden thoats.

    May have more later. Right now I’m watching the movie. I’m at the part that I asked about in the first posting.

  • MCR …
    I can imagine being in a story conference where the topic is …. JC chucks the medallion . . . . and up comes the argument you make. Then there’s a discussion about the power and poetry of him chucking the thing he’s been focused on . . . it affirms his final irrevocable commitment to Mars ….. it is the moment he BECOMES John Carter OF MARS. . . .

    But then here’s MCR saying no, you can’t do that ….. he has to give it to Dejah ……

    And someone else says — wait a minute. Does the medallion really connect up with the 9th ray? Is that ever really established? I don’t recall that connection ever having been made?

    But let’s go along with your argument — he can’t chuck the medallion. He has to give it to Dejah.

    So what is your solution for how he BECOMES JC OF MARS . . . . ? Can you think of a writing fix to meet the dramatic need of an irrevocable commitment to Dejah and Helium and Barsoom, while still keeping the medallion in play?

    On to your next point:

    “Waste 10 years searching for another one when he could have done it in less time? . . . . .” So he should have had it all figured out from the beginning? Yes, the filmmaker shows us that at some point JC is being shadowed by a Thern … and you’re saying he should have figured that out right away, and then done the ploy that he did (but not that one because it endangers poor Ned) . . . I mean ….you’re just being ridiculously picky on this partiular point. Whose to say how long it took to figure out that there was a Thern tail? How do we even know there was a Thern tail any earlier than the end, when JC did the ruse? We don’t know that … you’re just assuming it…… There’s a word for this – it’s called “over thinking”…..there are a zillion explanations which support the 10 years without JC being an idiot. You’re just choosing to apply the explanation that suits your predetermined narrative.

    And finlally “Risk his nephew’s life in a foolish trap.” Really? REALLY? It’s unthinkable that someone’s life would get risked? John Carter of the books was supremely confident in his abilities. Do I have to quote it back to you? Are you saying that the JC of the books would be above a ploy like that because he would never place dear little Ned in danger, even though he knew – absolutely knew — that he would be watching over Ned and that his shot would be good and true because he is … after all … John Carter……

    Nah, you’re reaching.

  • Dotar Sojat wrote :

    “In the Dec 2010 “Pixar Brain Trust” screening of the 170 minute cut, this was one of the scenes that got re-imagined and they then re-shot pieces of the scene, with it playing the way we see it in the final cut of the movie.”

    Well, that certainly explains a lot! Perhaps Stanton should have stuck with his instincts and kept the ERB motivation of duty, Dejah not going back on her word, etc. That certainly makes more sense. Again, I’d like to read the original script!

    The overriding need to keep the pace of the film going, though, is why there are flaws such as this. Just a few more minutes of life among the Tharks, views of Barsoomian architecture and the like, saving Woola from a white ape (not just getting whacked by a few spears), 30 seconds of a Harryhausen-style fight between JC and Tal Hajus. What are we talking about here, three or four minutes?

    Sigh. It’s one of the things I’ll never understand about Hollywood.

  • “Andrew Stanton’s flawed John Carter in search of redemption, and Edgar Rice Burroughs “Galahad” like knight in search of a worthy cause.”

    At what point was Stanton’s Carter looking for redemption? As far as this movie goes never. He didn’t care to redeem himself, he just wanted his gold and nothing else.

    “(Still with me — no whiny Carter yet, right?)”

    No because by this point he had become Idiot Carter. Let’s see; March all the Tharks to an empty Zodanga. Fly into the wedding like a drunk jet skier. Decide not to give the medallion to Dejah to study-you know to help prove her theory about the 9th ray which everyone suddenly decides is not important despite half the movie wasting time on it-and instead throws it away. Waste 10 years searching for another one when he could have done it in less time. Risk his nephew’s life on a foolish trap.

    You’re asking at what point did Stanton’s Carter ever become Burroughs’ Carter. Never. It never happened period. At no point did he ever resemble the man who was seeking a cause to fight for or open his heart to Dejah. None of that ever occurred in this film. He was either selfish, a jerk or an idiot. I’ll admit Burroughs’ Carter was boastful of his abilties and made mistakes and blunders but not as big as Stanton’s did.

  • I should have said I would really have enjoyed seeing him asking her to elope with him. I did like the way he proposed at the end though. I did see the few deleted scenes on the Second Screen. I haven’t gotten any of the Blu-ray sets. Are there any more deleted scenes on those discs?

  • Michael, thank you for that explanation. That just makes me mad. I guess we really do need that 6 hour “director’s cut” someone on the Back to Barsoom group mentioned. If I hadn’t loved the series so much for so many years, I guess I wouldn’t care so much, but it’s bad enough reading posts (like on IMDb) saying the movie is a mess and they don’t understand it, and now I guess it really was chopped up. I wish they would have taken better care to tie up the ends.

  • Dotar – that’s the passage I was thinking about – JC “escaping” love all his years on Earth. Guess it’s good Stanton killed off the Earth family or JC would have to send alimony and child support payments from Mars.

    On transformation point, I was sticking just with the final version of the movie. He’s still reluctant after the Warhoon battle and that scene, in my opinion, is more about deceased Mrs. Carter than about Dejah. He finally turns in to the kick-ass JCM everyone knows after he kills the white apes and rallies the Tharks.

  • HAZL…yes that’s the one I was alluding to . . . . the fact he’s a widower in some fashion means that even after all is said and done, he’s not 100% ERB’s John Carter. As for JC not liking Earth girls all that much . . . maybe. I’m not sure. I remember this passage where it seems he was certainly searching on earth, maybe just not finding . . . .

    “So this was love! I had escaped it for all the years I had roamed the five continents and their encircling seas; in spite of beautiful women and urging opportunity; in spite of a half-desire for love and a constant search for my ideal, it had remained for me to fall furiously and hopelessly in love with a creature from another world, of a species similar possibly, yet not identical with mine. A woman who was hatched from an egg, and whose span of life might cover a thousand years; whose people had strange customs and ideas; a woman whose hopes, whose pleasures, whose standards of virtue and of right and wrong might vary as greatly from mine as did those of the green Martians.

    Yeah, I guess you could read that as “Earth girls aren’t that interesting”. . . . . 😉

  • Michael, quite simply put, the Warhoon scene. It was the point in the movie where he transitioned from the disgruntled Carter to the Carter we all know and love from the books (yes, later he was still kinda iffy when he had his conversation with Dejah in Zodanga. But he was ready to fight for her and he was in love with her at that point). The flashbacks during that scene showed where he was coming from, while the intercuts to the present were showing that he was all about the “now” and risking his life for Dejah. When we saw him bury his wife and daughter in the flashback, he was, in turn, burying his past and moving on. That is when he became ERB’s John Carter. If we do get sequels, I think Carter will be ERB’s Carter (although with a little less vivacity when it comes to war).

    As a side note, most people who saw JC say that that was the most moving and most memorable scene in the movie. The way Stanton directed it along with the great music of Michael Giacchino (track #9 on the soundtrack) was what put the movie over the top for me as one of my all-time favorite movies.

  • Aha….Diana, you’re absolutely right and there’s a quirky explanation. Originally Carter makes the commitment to Dejah basically en route to the Warhoon confrontation … there is a closeup of his hand grasping hers that is sort of the moment of commitment. He then faces the Warhoon a la ERB’s JC . . . interestingly, in the book the “shrinking violet” Dejah jumps off her thoat and stands beside John Carter a la Woola in the movie, and Carter has to pick her up and physically force her on the thoat with Sola . . . whereas in the movie the “warrior princess” Dejah never successfully gets off the thoat . . . . . (but I digress, defending Dejah again, sorry) . . . .

    But anyway, when JC shows up in Dejah’s chambers but then hesitates … it seems like he’s welched on his previously settled commitment. Turns out that in the original Stanton/Chabon script, and as shot originally, Carter pitches Dejah to basically elope with him. She says no, duty won’t allow it, and then they are interrupted. In the Dec 2010 “Pixar Brain Trust” screening of the 170 minute cut, this was one of the scenes that got re-imagined and they then re-shot pieces of the scene, with it playing the way we see it in the final cut of the movie. It was shorter this way, which was a major objective of the re-shoot — they lost 45 seconds or so and that was deemed important, more important – evidently – than keeping Carter’s character through-line on track. It also robs Dejah of a nice moment — a moment that is also nice in the book, when she must turn away from John Carter even though she loves him because of her duty to Helium.

    In this case, for me at least — the “improvement” in the reshoot is not really an improvement. It really undermines Carter’s character by making him seem to waffle after already making a commitment, and it robs Dejah of a moment of strength……..

  • Only point I can think to argue on the book vs movie difference is that Dejah will always be JC’s 2nd wife in Stanton’s version. The book version didn’t think Earth girls were that interesting.

    The transformation in the movie is complete when JC slices his way through the white ape’s body at the end of the arena fight scene. That’s when John Carter of Mars is born, with Martian ape blue blood afterbirth. Lovely.

  • I felt like the turning point was when they were escaping from the Warhoon and JC stays behind to fight them off while the women get away. But I was puzzled about what followed. When DT asks him to stay and fight for Helium, he stammers around, yet when she gives him the chant to go home and the door bursts open, he doesn’t, he jumps up into the rafters. What was he going to do before Matai Shang caught him? I could understand him staying to save her when he found out from MS that she was going to be killed, but there seemed to be something missing or unexplained before that.

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