Some of you might have been to the theater and seen a poster for a movie called John Carter. Some of you might have even seen the trailer and saw the Disney logo in front of it.
The title doesn’t really say what it’s about, and the trailer doesn’t do the story or the team behind it justice. You might just think it’s the next mindless summer blockbuster coming from Disney in the mold of the abysmal Pirates of the Caribbean movies. You’re probably expecting a whole lot of spectacle and not a lot of story.
Who could blame you? Disney’s blockbusters have been lackluster; their tentpole films are as bland as the John Carter title. But I’m here to tell you why you should be as excited for this movie as I am, despite the preposterous and odd marketing campaign.
First off: the source material. John Carter of Mars (which is what I call the film in my head) is based on the fantastic series of pulp science-fiction adventures from Edgar Rice Burroughs. They’re some of the most fun I’ve ever had reading. Written in a completely breathless style, each chapter ends on a climax or cliffhanger, raising the stakes until the ending explodes in ways you never would have guessed. Pick up the books. It’s like Twain’s Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court on crack, with John Carter—a Civil War veteran—transported to the Martian surface and captured by Martians. Then he quickly has to rescue a red-skinned Barsoomian princess who might be the most beautiful thing he’s ever seen.
Also, there are floating airships with cannons on them.
Second: Pixar. I know Disney has been taking all the credit for this movie, but make no mistake—this is a Pixar movie. Some of this movie was shot right here in Utah, and all the press releases coming out billed this as “Pixar’s first live-action film.” It’s directed by Andrew Stanton, the guy who directed Finding Nemo and Wall-E. He’s a deft storyteller. And the animation is all Pixar, which is second to none in the business.
Third: the cast. No one cares about Taylor Kitsch, who’s playing the lead, but the supporting cast is first-rate. Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad, Drive), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern) and Willem Dafoe (Platoon, Spider-Man) round out a cast of characters that I’ve been dying to see on screen since I was a kid.
How many more reasons do you need?
It’s got something for everyone—men, women and kids. It’s about a Civil War vet from Earth on Mars. It has fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, aliens, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles ... and I mentioned the flying pirate ships, right?
We have every reason to believe this movie is going to hit a home run. This is easily one of my most anticipated films of 2012. Pixar has produced only one mediocre film as far as I’m concerned (Cars 2), and even that one mediocre film was better than most cartoons from the past decade. We just hold Pixar to a higher standard.
Could this be the time they let us down? I suppose it could be, but I doubt it. John Carter hits cinemas March 9, 2012—for me, kicking off the 2012 summer movie season.
Bryan Young is the editor-in-chief of BigShinyRobot.com.