I just want you all to realize how much I’m disgusted with myself right now. I don’t lightly throw around the word “hate”, but when it comes to this film, I can think of no other word that so aptly describes the feeling of dread and potential loathing that I feel for it.
And that sucks, because it should have been awesome.
What you should have been able to watch there is the trailer for Disney’s “John Carter”.
Problem the first: The Title (so far)
The title gets my blood boiling nice and early. The movie is based off a book by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the guy who created Tarzan, entitled “A Princess of Mars”.
Lets compare those, shall we?
“A Princess of Mars”: from this title, many things can be inferred. For some reason, it takes place on Mars, where there is apparently at least one Princess. In order to have a princess, you need to have a kingdom, which implies a society, something you probably wouldn’t expect to find on Mars. Since we’ll be discovering something new, then adventure is also implied.
“John Carter”: Okay. It’s a story about a guy named John Carter.
You see what I’m getting at? A happy medium would have been to go with “John Carter of Mars”, which is what the series, all 11 books of it, is referred to in it’s entirety. I’d have been cool with that. In fact, from the letters on this poster, it looks like they were flirting with that title… and since they’re still using the poster, it’s like they can’t even make up their minds.
Problem the Second: The Cast
Taylor Kitsch is starring as John Carter, a Civil War veteran from Virginia (the South) of impressive stature who is transported to Mars, where he has to fight to survive.
Lynn Collins stars as Dejah Thoris, a red martian (who look just like humans, but with a redder hue) the previously mentioned Princess of Mars, who is on multiple occassions referred to as the most beautiful woman alive.
Willem Dafoe stars as Tars Tarkas, a green martian, who are known for their large size (being twice as tall as humans), four arms, and large tusks.
Lets start with…
Kitsch: I’ve only ever seen him in one thing, which was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a movie that did not endear him to me as an actor. Also, and here’s the big thing: I don’t like his face.
Look at that face. That is not the face of a Civil War hero, even one from the Confederacy. That’s the face of an Abercrombie model. He should be selling jeans to tweens, not fighting aliens with swords. It turns out he’s not as short as I thought he was (he’s 6-flat instead of 5’8″, which is very different, I’ll admit), but I still don’t think he’s big enough. And for this movie, he should have gotten a haircut.
Collins: No doubt, she’s an attractive lady. But, and here we’re having the same problem as with Kitsch, I’ve only ever seen her in one thing, and that was Wolverine, where again I was not impressed.
Foxy, yes. But not foxy enough.
Dejah Thoris’ defining physical feature is that she’s almost literally drop-dead gorgeous. Collins is like an 8; Thoris is a 17.
She looks… pinched? I dunno.
I have no idea who they SHOULD have cast in this role, which is exactly the point I’m trying to make: this is potentially a star-maker role. Find some girl-next-door knockout that no one has ever seen before and paint her red.
Dafoe: This is actually brilliant casting. I love Willem Dafoe in anything he does that isn’t terrifying (which, as one of those guys that takes acting crazy seriously, happens kind of often), and this bit of casting was inspired. No, my problem here is with the design.
Lets look at that again.
There are a lot of things going on here that I’m cool with, some things I’m “meh” about, and one big thing that makes me want to go outside and punch some kittens. Many of these things only bother me because I’m already a fan of the books, and worse, I’m a recovering artist who’s already come up with some designs in my head for what I think these guys should look like. Here’s my take, from Junior year of College:
It’s only been a few years, but I cringe so hard just to look at that… but I digress. The book describes them as big. We don’t get any hint of that from the trailer, but that doesn’t mean anything: they could be saving it for later. The four arms are there, awesome, and he looks a little skinnier than I’d like, but this is a minor problem, easily overcome.
The unforgivable sin here is his tusks. Look at those. Nothing alive has tusks like that. He’s got frikkin’ Babar-horns coming out the side of his face. What possible purpose, from a biological standpoint, could a species have for growing teeth out of their sideburns?
I can see how that would make the face easier to animate, since it’s totally all going to be computer stuff, but that isn’t the point. When I saw that in the trailer, my jaw dropped and I almost popped a patron right in the nose. Guh.
Anyway. Whatever. That just frustrates me so much, I can’t even remember my other reasons. I’m going to go take my lunch now.