Saturday, January 8, 2011

Taylor Kitsch is headed for Mars!

There you are, you see? And you didn't believe in Santa! Turns out, dreams do occasionally come true after all ... and I have no idea how this one blew by me till I was surfing around a few hours ago, and I thought, "I wonder if you can download the John Carter of Mars books as ebooks?" So I searched on "John Carter of Mars ebooks," and came up blank ... but what did show up was "John Carter of Mars (2012)," with a URL at IMDB attached --

Hold it right there! Say -- what?

Do you remember being a little kid and stumbling backwards into the most amazing fantasy worlds, sandwiched between paperback covers? I mean, back in the days when people used to actually read. Well, John Carter of Mars is like that. It's a series of fantasy novels written around 100 years ago (in fact, 2012 will make the centenary of the publication of A Princess of Mars) by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And discovering these novels was 14-year-old heaven on a stick...

A few years ago I found that some of them had passed into the public domain, which doesn't bear thinking about. It's crass. It means the works have been abandoned. And then ... well, see above: Taylor Kitsch, who played Gambit in Wolverine, is playing the southern gentleman, John Carter, who is somewhat magically teleported to a Mars that never existed -- but by golly, there's about five generations of fantasy fans who wish it did!

Here you go -- John Carter, mostly nekkid, all ripling muscles and swords -- put Taylor Kitsch into this costume and let your imagination rip! And the similarly almost nekkid Dejah Thoris, who's being played by Lyn Collins, also out of Wolverine. In fact, Wolverine is the only movie I've seen her in, but I liked what I saw.

Now, loooong before all this headed for the movie screen (and you just know it's going to be done in 3D, right? At least, I'm hoping and praying it will be) this whole "universe" was created down to the last exotic moon hurtling through the tropic skies of this fantasy Mars. Burroughs wrote 11 of these volumes as the "Barsoom Series" (there's actually a round dozen, but the last two were short -- they came out in SF magazines of the day -- and were later published under one cover. Check out the Wikipedia page for the series.)

And bringing this to the screen will have been a job on about the same scale as Avatar, because ... this is where it gets interesting. Taylor Kitsch and Lyn Collins have got it easy. All they have to do is live in the gym, look great in skimpy costumes, and run about being athletic in front of big green screens...

...and I'm pretty sure they can manage to do that! But consider the part of Tars Tarkas:
For a start, he has four arms and is about ten feet tall, and green. And here's where the production starts to run along the same lines of Avatar, because (yowzer!) Willem Dafoe is going to play Tars Tarkas, and he can only be doing it the way Sam Worthington played Jake Sully's avatar. You've seen the "making of Avatar" movie, right? It's runs 104 minutes and it packed on Disk 3 of the Special Collector's edition of Avatar that was stacked up under about ten million Christmas trees around the world, along with the aftershave and curling wands and RC trucks.

You saw Willen Dafoe as the Green Goblin in Spiderman. And you actually won't see him in John Carter of Mars --

-- because the character of Tars Tarkas looks nowhere near human. It's not like putting Sam Worthington's face on a Na'vi. It's more like Andy Sirkis playing Gollum -- in fact, Sirkis also did the motion capture for King Kong, which was an interesting switch of roles. From the smallest character to the biggest. Neat.

I would have to say, I think it takes vast courage for an actor to play these parts, because he's going to be utterly invisible, yet he can't just "phone it in," like an actor doing a voice part -- say, Johnny Depp voicing Rango the lizard. Any actor doing performance capture is going to be on the set, flinging himself around in front of the big green screen, taking all the falls, and yet he's going to be utterly invisible. My hat's off to Willem Dafoe, same as it was to Andy Sirkis.

So now I'm going to be on tenterhooks for a year and a half, because Disney Pixar has John Carter slated for release in June 2012. So long? Waaaaah! I believe I shall spit the dummy.

But a dream is in the process of coming true. The movie also stars Mark Strong and Thomas Haden Church. These might not be names that ring bells with you, but you saw Strong as the villain in the Sherlock Holmes movie (the Robery Downey Jr. and Jude Law version), and you must have seen Church as the villainous, vile Lyle van der Groot in George of the Jungle. No? Really?! Then you missed one of the major treats of our time -- Brendan Fraser at age 28, buff-naked, having just walked out of the gym. (Buff -- what? You forgot the shower scene, with the bar of soap? Shame on you. Go rent the movie. Now.)

So I'll just have to be patient, and make do with the move is that are coming along in a few months: Johnny Depp is back as Jack, and word is, it's 3D. Then Anthony Hopkins is Odin in The Mighty Thor -- which is definitely 3D. And the next Star Trek movie is also due ... but if it's 3D, by golly, I hope they NAIL THE CAMERA TO SOMETHING and stop it jiggling around, because if they do the jiggly camera thing from the previous movie, and add 3D too, AG will be in the bathroom, tossing her popcorn.

Patience, my children.

1 comment:

  1. Aricia,

    Thanks for another beautiful post.

    Particularly enjoyed the classic images.

    Your new Blog header is so lovely.