Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Wednesday Cover: A Princess Of Mars

I first collected Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter of Mars paperbacks in the early 80s, when Ballantine/Del Rey issued the series with gorgeous, colorful cover art by Michael Whelan. This is the cover to the first volume in the series, A Princess Of Mars, and it's one of my favorites. A lot of fantastic artists have visualized Burroughs' Barsoom over the years, including masters like Frazetta and Roy Krenkel, but I find that I keep going back to Whelan's interpretation. I just love the way he sees Mars and its wonders.

On a related note, Brandi and I went to see Andrew Stanton's John Carter last night. Saw it in 3-D because it was the most convenient showing, time-wise. Overall, I was pleased with it and look forward to watching it again on Blu-ray when it comes out. The effects were extremely good (I had no problem believing that the CGI Tharks were actual, living characters), and Taylor Kitsch was better than I expected as Carter.

As for the most important character - considering that it's impractical to travel back in time and bring 1976 Caroline Munro to the present to play Dejah Thoris, I am quite satisfied with the actual casting of  the lovely Miss Lynn Collins, who did a fine job as The Princess of Mars.

I have a few quibbles with the changes and alterations made to the story, but really, it was a terrific movie, and should be raking in money like nobody's business - but we were virtually alone in the theater. It's a shame.

Some people just refuse to have fun, I guess.


Jack Badelaire said...

I take a sterner view of the changes made, but I'm also a much more recent delver into the series and so carry that newcomer's zeal.

Saw an article recently that states Disney is going to claim a write-off of roughly $200 million on this movie. As production and marketing ran into the 350+ million dollar range, making that bad would be a tough nut to crack.

GrayPumpkin said...

1976 Caroline Munro would have been perfect looks-wise, but Lynn Collins is a much better actress.

wordboy said...

It seems to me that Disney didn't want the movie to succeed. The marketing was pathetic, and changing the title from John Carter of Mars to just John Carter didn't help. There was nothing to make the movie stand out.

I'm okay with the changes from the original story. And I agree that Lynn Collins did a very good job as Dejah Thoris.

Andy said...

Michael Whelan's Mars is more...lush (for lack of a better word) than Frazetta's. Don't get me wrong - I love Frazetta. But Whelan makes Mars and her denizens seem more alive, somehow.

I agree thatthe film was horribly promoted. How do you take the title "A Princess of Mars" and change it to the bland "John Carter"? Seriously? Not even "John Carter - Warlord of Mars"?? Disney's marketing really screwed the pooch on this.

Jack Badelaire said...

"Warlord" doesn't test well with the pablum-slurping milquetoasts who are stuffed into the screening rooms for purposes of marketing!

Buuuuut seriously. You couldn't call him "Warlord" and have a hope in Hell of a studio like Disney making the movie. Sad but true.

Andy said...

LOL! Being called "pablum-slurping milquetoasts" also doesn't test well with the pablum-slurping milquetoasts. Yet, truer words...

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed the film too. Not everything works, but it does an excellent job of capturing the right tone and spirit.

There's a few conspiracy theories that the current management at Disney was actually rooting against the film- since it had been greenlit by employees that are no longer with the company. The whole thing does seem a little odd when you step back to examine it.

For example, when's the last time a purported $100 million marketing campaign managed to be so incredibly shoddy and low-profile?

Even more bizarre, when's the last time a studio made no attempt to downplay the poor box office of their film?

Sony spent weeks trying to spin The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo's luewarm opening into a hit, but Disney waited all of 10 days before declaring- completely unprompted- that John Carter is already the "biggest flop in movie history!"

Stephen Jones said...

You can't blame marketing for everything. They had a tough sell: No name actors in the lead (except the CGI characters), 100-year old sci-fi franchise (possibly the oldest), a hero whose "superpower" is jumpin' real good.

Given all that, I found myself enjoying it much more than I expected. Still, my teenage companions liked it OK but found the overstuffed story "confusing" which said a lot about the lack of word-of-mouth on the film.

Anonymous said...

I think a couple of things hurt John Carter's marketing early on. First there was the failure of Mars Needs Moms prompting Disney to change the "John Carter of Mars" title.

Then there was the failure of Cowboys and Aliens, which led to them downplaying the whole "civil war soldier transported to Mars" aspect of the film.

Both were easy-to-grasp concepts that would've made selling the film a lot easier. Certainly more than the vague "John Carter" ended up doing.

(To that end, I actually just got around to seeing the film a few days ago. As I stood in line to buy tickets, I noticed a group of moviegoers staring at the marquee and asking each other, "What's 'John Carter'?!)