Jay Stone, writing in the Vancouver Sun, has posed the question of the day–actually three questions, all worth considering:
The biggest news of spring has nothing to do with 3-D, though. It’s the highly anticipated film version of The Hunger Games, the post-apocalyptic young-adult novel that caused a pre-apocalyptic young-adult sensation and is the surest bet of the season. Less of a guarantee is the most expensive release, John Carter, Disney’s $250-million gamble on a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who had a pretty good go with the Tarzan franchise) about an Earthling on Mars. It’s a gamble that raises the questions: Can Taylor Kitsch carry a film? Can director Andrew Stanton replicate the success of Wall-E and Finding Nemo in live-action sci-fi? Is the world still up for an Edgar Rice Burroughs story?
Anyone who follows this site knows that its author is a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and is cheering this movie on, hoping for the best. But here’s the thing — this is a tough mountain to climb for Disney. It may work out — it may not. So when somebody formulates the “big questions” this clearly, I think it warrants some consideration.
Can Taylor Kitsch carry a film?
The instinctive, defensive reaction is: Can Sam Worthington carry a film? Going into Avatar, this was the equivalent question, and Sam provided the answer — yes. At least for a vilm like Avatar. And John Carter is a lot like Avatar. But the fact is … Worthington proved himself, and he had a basic “likeability factor” working for him. Does Kitsch have this? He certainly has an “it” factor going on. But…..I want to believe, and I’m hoping for the best. It’s a lot to ask, though. The thing is, the decision to cast Taylor gives it a “now” quality and that may be very important, given the “yesteryear” nature of the source material. But it also represents a kind of “double down” on the risk. I mean ….the logic would be that if you are spending 200 m to make a movie, spend $5m more and book a bankable lead. Instead — Disney has, in a remarkable act of corporate “ballsiness” (is that a word), doubled down and gone with Kitsch. We won’t know how this has paid off until March 9.
Can director Andrew Stanton replicate the success of Wall-E and Finding Nemo in live-action sci-fi?
This is a question that I’m GLAD is being asked. This is a question that needs to get implanted not just in the minds of writers like Jay Stone — but in the minds of the public. It is the central question, and it is essential to the promotion of the film to get people thinking — is Andrew Stanton going to deliver another Nemo or Wall-E? Just getting that question to form in the minds of the potential audience is a “win” for the film.
Is the world still up for an Edgar Rice Burroughs story?
Oh, the pain of this question. As a lifetime fan of ERB, I want to RAGE AGAINST THIS QUESTION. But, on reflection, it’s a fair question. 1912 is not 2012. The “Harry Potter” of the “teens” is not the “Hunger Games” of 2012. There can be no doubt that my hero ERB was a storyteller of extraordinary gifts. But it’s a fair question. If you’re a fan of ERB — do you worry about this? If not, should you?
In truth — these three questions actually collapse into one — the one in the middle: “Can Andrew Stanton replicate the succes of Wall-E and Finding Nemo in life-action Sci-Fi?” We know that ERB is a great foundation to build on, but does it resonate with audiences of 2012? Answer: Stanton must make it so. “Can Taylor Kitsch carry a film?” Answer: Andrew Stanton chose him — he must make it so.
March 9 looms …. I really believe this can work out — but anyone who calls it a slam dunk is dreaming. It’s a big gamble by Disney. I hope it pays off…..