Friday, March 23, 2012

Martians Can't Jump

As with Tintin, the Internet is full of people posting their two cents on why John Carter got trounced... by a Jonah Hill comedy... and the foofawraw over The Hunger Games. Of course, I'll drop my million cents into the bucket.

I notice that the film was not promoted particularly well. Disney didn't front Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch as well as, say, Jennifer Lawrence or Jennifer Love Hewitt (posters of this image are all over midtown Manhattan - on bus stops, phone booths (people still use those?):

What about the source material? The first five books in the series are back in print (Thuvia, The Maid of Mars and The Chessman of Mars were collected in an affordable omnibus edition). Are they palatable to the tastes of a modern audience? Well...the new editions are easier to read than the teeny tiny print from those old paperbacks that used to sit on the shelves, but the prose is dated. I don't hate it - I found it has an odd taste of comfort food; John and Cathoris' (the son of John Carter and Dejah Thoris - spoiler alert!... if you did see the movie..I'm waiting for it to arrive on video, which should be very soon) have adventures that resemble travelogues of Monument Valley. I may not follow exactly what's happening (Is his companion/pet...Battlecat?) but it's not a crashing bore. Maybe there's not enough sex.

 I do find the novels don't resemble the old Marvel comics much - those pamphlets were like Conan in Outer Space, as if Robert E. Howard had not got around to writing Conan The Star Warrior or Conan The Investigator (oh, wait, wait,wait! That's my next essay! I don't want to give it away yet!). Tars Tarkas, the J'onn J'onzz/Hulk prototype, only figures into the first three adventures and fades out - in the comics, he's Carter's wingman, like Ultra Magnus to Rodimus Prime, or Will Riker to Jean-Luc Picard, or Kit Cloudkicker to Baloo or Shawn Chapman Holly to Lindsay Lohan. Dejah Thoris is usually clad in G-String and pasties - I imagine Lynn Collins could have pulled this off, though her shimmering belly dancer outfit is alluring.

Nowadays it's not enough to see just one book in a series make it to film - we need to see all the books make it. It's disappointing when the studio has to scrap their plans. Did you know that if Star Wars had bombed, Lucas would have made Splinter of The Mind's Eye for television to recoup on any losses? That might not be a great example, because they were not adapted from a series of books (well, unless anyone wants to stir to pot...).

You know what the worst thing about all this is? I own a copy of  The Warlord of Mars and won't get to see images I found hard to picture translated on screen. I'll just have to read with my hi-lighter and go through it a little slowly the next time...I'm sure the people who spent a lot on John Carter comics just to resell it online for more money than they're worth are pleased as peach -good . :)