thanks to the folks from Nuffnang, Baby and I had the privilege and honour to catch the Singapore Gala Premiere of John Carter which would be officially released on 9 March 2012! Well, in this entry, I will share with you how I felt about this movie.
To start off, let me just make a mention of how this film came to existence because I felt that it is worth noting the long history involved in the production of this film. John Carter, the movie, is largely based on “A Princess of Mars“, the first novel to feature the hero, John Carter. The story was originally serialised over six monthly installments since February 1912! [yes, that’s a long time] So in 1931, the director of Looney Tunes, Bob Clampett approached Edgar Rice Burroughs with the idea of adapting the novel into a feature-length animated film. However, the test footage received many negative reactions that the series was not given the go ahead. In the late 1950s, Ray Harryhausen expressed interest in filming the novels, but it was not until the 1980s that producers Mario Kassar and Andrew G. Vajna bought the rights for Walt Disney Pictures, with a view to creating a competitor to Star Wars and Conan the Barbarian. However, the project collapsed because McTiernan realized that visual effects were not yet advanced enough to recreate Burroughs’ vision of Barsoom. [rather similar to the issue that James Cameron had for Avatar] The project remained at Disney, and Jeffrey Katzenberg was a heavy proponent of filming the novels, but the rights eventually returned to the Burroughs’ estate.
A picture of the novel.
Having read the Burroughs’ novels as a child, Producer James Jacks was moved to convince Paramount Pictures to acquire the film rights and a bidding war with Columbia Pictures followed. After Paramount and Jacks won the rights, Jacks contacted Knowles to become an adviser on the project and hired Mark Protosevich to write the screenplay. Robert Rodriguez signed on in 2004 to direct the film after his friend Knowles showed him the script. Recognizing that Knowles had been an adviser to many other filmmakers, Rodriguez asked him to be credited as a producer. Filming was set to begin in 2005, with Rodriguez planning to use the all-digital stages he was using for his production of Sin City, a film based on the graphic novel series by Frank Miller. Rodriguez planned to hire Frank Frazetta, the popular Burroughs and fantasy illustrator, as a designer on the film. Rodriguez had previously stirred-up film industry controversy by his decision to credit Sin City’s artist/creator Frank Miller as co-director on the film adaptation; as a result of all the hoopla, Rodriguez decided to resign from the Directors Guild of America. In 2004, unable to hire a non-DGA filmmaker, Paramount assigned Kerry Conran to direct and Ehren Kruger to rewrite the John Carter script and the Australian Outback was scouted as a shooting location. However, Conran left the film for unknown reasons and was replaced in October of 2005 by Jon Favreau.
Now, Favreau and screenwriter Mark Fergus wanted to make their script faithful to the Burroughs’ novels, retaining John Carter’s links to the American Civil War and ensuring that the Barsoomian Tharks were 15 feet tall (previous scripts had made them human-sized). Favreau argued that a modern day soldier would not know how to fence or ride a horse like Carter, who had been a Confederate officer. The first film he envisioned would have adapted the first three novels in the Barsoom series: A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars, and The Warlord of Mars. Unlike Rodriguez and Conran, Favreau preferred using practical effects for his film and cited Planet of the Apes as his inspiration. He intended to use make-up, as well as CGI, to create the 15 foot-tall Tharks. Favreau’s affiliation with the project was never strong, and in August 2006 Paramount chose not to renew the film rights, preferring instead to focus on their Star Trek franchise. Favreau and Fergus moved on to Marvel’s Iron Man.
In January 2007 Disney regained the rights, acquiring them again for Andrew Stanton and writer Mark Andrews. Stanton noted he was effectively being “loaned” to Walt Disney Pictures because Pixar is an all-ages brand and John Carter was rated PG-13. By 2008 they completed the first draft for Part One of a John Carter film trilogy; the first film is based only on the first novel. In April 2009 author Michael Chabon confirmed he had been hired to revise the script. Having completed WALL-E, Stanton and Wells visited the archives of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc., in Tarzana, California, as part of their research. Jim Morris, general manager of Pixar, said the film will have a unique look that is distinct from Frank Frazetta’s illustrations, which they both found dated. He also noted that although he had less time for pre-production than for any of his usual animated projects, the task was nevertheless relatively easy since he had read the Burroughs’ novels as a child and had already visualized many of its scenes.
The film was originally titled John Carter of Mars, but Stanton removed “of Mars” to make it more appealing to a broader audience, stating that the film is an “origin story. It’s about a guy becoming John Carter of Mars.” Stanton plans to keep “Mars” in the title for future films in the series. Kitsch said the title was changed to reflect the character’s journey, as John Carter will become “of Mars” only in the last few minutes of the picture.
Alright, so in summary [pardon me for the history lesson], though the idea for the film came about in 1931, proper work in producing the film by Disney only came about in 2007! Well, the reason why I’m sharing with you all these is because I strongly felt that the film would indeed be worth catching, considering the fact that it took so long to produce this film. [100 years in fact!]
So what’s so interesting about the film? First and foremost, I have never read the novel, A Princess of Mars before but having watched the film, it stirred up an interest in me to want to read the original novel; and secondly, I felt that the story kinda touched my heart because to me, the entire movie speaks about how a man tries so hard to leave his past behind, breaks out of his comfort zone venturing into the unknown, and come to love this unknown place which he eventually called home. Not only does the story touched my heart, but I liked the various scenes that were shot in Utah. Some of the locations in Utah where the film was shot included Lake Powell and the counties of Grand, Wayne, and Kane. [do a quick search on google and you can see many beautiful pictures of the place]
Well, I asked Baby how she felt about the film and she said that it was too fairytale-like; which I have to agree with her. Nonetheless, we really enjoyed the film and we would rate it 3.5/5.0 stars. Oh and I have to add, we caught the 3D film and we felt that its effects were quite good. Do catch the film if you feel inspired to! =)
Here’s the movie trailer:
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