First Look: John Carter (of Mars) Trailer

The much anticipated trailer for the Disney treatment of the classic Edgar Rice Burroughs sci-fi adventure series John Carter of Mars was released yesterday.

How cool is that? Love those Barsoomian ships. But after drooling over Frank Franzetta’s voluptuous renderings of “the incomparable” Dejah Thoris on book covers for years, the shock of seeing her with a top on will take some getting used to.

Fans of the last major series by Burroughs not butchered by Hollywood are holding their breath that for once, Tinsel Town will get it right and capture the vision of one of the most imaginative writers of the 20th century.

So far, there are signs that cause both trepidation and hope. Most worrisome is dropping “of Mars” from the original title. Now it is simply John Carter set for release on March 9, 2012. Disney – marketing geniuses? Maybe they know something the rest of us don’t.

They are also being coy about the look of some of the fantastical Martian beasts – especially the humanoid Tharks. John Carter’s experiences with the 15 foot tall green skinned, 4 armed, be-tusked “hordes” is a central part of the story. Also wondering about Carter’s Calot (dog) Woola who stands as tall as a Shetland pony with 10 legs and the head of a frog.

What about Carter’s superior strength and agility, bulging muscles and giant “thews?” Carter could leap 30 feat at a time in the weaker Martian gravity, which gave him an enormous advantage over any adversary. It’s the reason he’s dominant on the planet so you wonder if  they can remain true to that part of Carter’s personae.

And they better not screw up the thoats. (great Wiki on Barsoom here).

On the good side, Andrew Stanton (Wall-E and Finding Nemo) is helming the project which is already into post-production. Stanton, who also penned the script, swears that he has made a “true Martian movie.” Famous last words. And judging from the trailer, there doesn’t appear to be anything cheesy about the backdrops — a fault that ruined The Martian Chronicles.

The stars are a mixed lot. I’m dubious of Willem Dafoe playing Carter’s best friend, the Thark Tars Tarkas. But Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as Dejah Thoris seems fine. Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) as John Carter is going to be hit or miss. I think he’s too young (Carter was a Civil War hero) but he looks great in the trailer – suitably heroic. Hard to think of who might have played the role today. Contemporary action heroes just wouldn’t fill the bill. How about Robert Taylor or Victor Mature? Errol Flynn might have been OK too.

I apologize if my cynicism is showing through but so many films have disappointed upon being transferred from literature to celluloid that I am fully expecting disaster. I think the best those of us who are fans of the series can hope for is that they stick to the story and not overload the film with a lot of syrupy exposition and non-essential romance.

IMDB page here.