Perhaps you’ve heard the World War I-era ditty, “How Ya Gonna Keep ’Em Down on the Farm (After They’ve Seen Paree?),’’ about young American soldiers developing a more sophisticated worldview after their eye-opening experiences in France. You’d imagine that the makers of Disney’s $250 million science-fiction event movie “John Carter’’ must have faced a similar cultural quandary. Specifically, how do you sell audiences on a 100-year-old story about the exotic allure of Mars when probes and rovers have long since landed on the Red Planet and crushed all the mystery like so much red rock?
The film, which opens Friday, is directed and co-written by Andrew Stanton (“Wall-E’’), a Pixar veteran making his live-action debut. Taylor Kitsch (TV’s “Friday Night Lights’’) stars as the eponymous swashbuckler, a Civil War officer who finds himself mystically transported into the middle of another war on Mars (or Barsoom, to both the planet’s humanoid natives and its far-from-human ones). The story is adapted from the pulp novel “A Princess of Mars,’’ written by genre author Edgar Rice Burroughs just before he rose to prominence as the creator of Tarzan.
Burroughs published his first Carter adventure in serial form a century ago. At the time, of course, th