Monday, July 6, 2015
The Big Screen Barsoom that might have been.
Before the doomed Disney adaption of "A Princess of Mars", an earlier version was in the works by the maker of the pulp-steampunk cult film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. While we can never know if Conran's version would have been truer to the source material than Stanton's (it appears the decision to neuter the film's title had already been in place by this point), I can say I do prefer the look of the Barsoomian cities with their majestic canals and other-worldly splendor to the butte-sized outposts of the Disney film, and the concept art for the Atmosphere factory is just awesome (around 2:30 or so).
Ultimately though, Hollywood's biggest hurdle with John Carter has nothing to do with visual effects or casting, but with it's inability to present us with an unabashedly heroic character. John Carter came from a time before popular culture and political correctness had imposed an informal ban on heroes who are pure of heart, strong of character, and unimpaired by guilt or angst. Carter's popularity endured for more than a hundred years (!) with no need to make him a drunk, or a slacker, or in need of a "strong woman" to lead him around by the nose in spite of his lazy and irresponsible nature. Once a film-maker is brave enough to let Carter be a hero again, an ageless icon of action and honor in the face of all obstacles, the franchise will resonate with audiences the way its supposed to.