John Carter!

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John Carter!

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Editat: març 2, 2012, 7:24pm

As something of a sequel to the epic Weird Tradition Conan! thread, I thought I'd post this in anticipation of the Disney movie hitting screens in a week.

I just watched the latest trailer (or the one currently front-paged on the official website anyway), and I'm afraid it's going to be an experience much like the Conan film for me, but without any topless extras, which is just egregiously bad, considering ERB's costume descriptions -- to say nothing of the low Martian gravity.

I noticed in one snippet of dialogue: "... and Earth is next!" Earth? Earth? Who on Barsoom gives a fig about Earth? Give me some properly escapist sword and planet, dammit!

març 2, 2012, 8:42pm

>1 paradoxosalpha:

I'm afraid you've probably nailed it, gravity and all! :p

In the looooong history of ERB movies, there have been many more misses than hits. At least the new one will probably be light years better than 2009's PRINCESS OF MARS.

març 2, 2012, 9:08pm

> 2 probably be light years better than 2009's PRINCESS OF MARS

Yeah, well that's not asking a lot! Lynn Collins is certainly a better match for Dejah Thoris than Traci Lords (!) was -- even if they do bury her under her wardrobe (relatively speaking).

The effects and the fight scenes for the new movie do offer some promise, actually. I like the look of the fliers, and it appears that a big 21st-century effects budget can really accomplish extra arms and legs.

març 2, 2012, 11:29pm

Not ERB, but a far as sword and planet, I noticed that 1987's GOR can be streamed on Netflix...

Jack Palance and Oliver Reed are in the cast. Heh.

març 3, 2012, 6:41am

Oh Dear..they made a Gor Movie.

març 3, 2012, 8:14am

> 4, 5

Yeah, I had it in my streaming queue for weeks. When I finally made myself start to watch it, I just couldn't finish, even for camp's sake.

març 3, 2012, 4:21pm

Yesterday, I started reading Ardor on Aros, which alludes overtly to Barsoom throughout. In today's mail I got my copy of Under the Moons of Mars!

març 3, 2012, 7:30pm

>6 paradoxosalpha:

Figured that GOR would be a wipeout, but that sounds even worse than I imagined!

>7 paradoxosalpha:

I recently saw the JOHN CARTER display at Barnes & Noble. Just the first three ERB novels, plus a novelization of the movie and a volume of new ” based on” short stories that looked interesting. My wife really enjoyed the first three, and I've been on the lookout for the other Mars books, but it looks like I'll have to look for used versions online.

març 4, 2012, 9:50am

just saw a trailer, i read the first mars book a few years ago and remember enjoying it for what it was. the movie looks a bit like one of the last star wars flicks, but i'm a sucker for big battle sequences

Editat: març 4, 2012, 10:16am

I've been working slowly toward a collection of the hardcover ERB Mars editions illustrated by Frazetta (plus one by Corben) that were issued by Doubleday as book club commodities in the 1970s. These are essentially identical to the ones I read from the public library when I was a lad, and I find owning them almost embarassingly satisfying.

març 4, 2012, 10:32am

I just e-mailed a bunch of my old D&D buddies to see if they wanna go see it with me this weekend. Hopefully I get some takers.

>7 paradoxosalpha:

In today's mail I got my copy of Under the Moons of Mars!

Which edition? Is it one of the Doubleday hardcovers you mentioned in #10?

>8 KentonSem:

You can also download them gratis at Project Gutenberg:

Editat: març 4, 2012, 10:37am

> 11 see it ... this weekend

I thought it opens next weekend?

Which edition?

Oh Under the Moons of Mars isn't Burroughs: it's the new anthology of post-ERB Barsoomian fiction edited by John Joseph Adams. I haven't read it yet, of course, but it has gotten good reviews, and Amazon had the hardcover on deep discount, so I couldn't resist.

març 4, 2012, 4:21pm

>12 paradoxosalpha:

This coming weekend, that is (3/9 - 3/11).

Yeah, I realized you might have been talking about the John Joseph Adams anthology after I posted that. Give us a review after you've had a chance to read it, won't you?

març 5, 2012, 11:13pm

Well, so far I have one friend & his wife (who may be appreciative of the dearth of topless extras alluded to by paradoxosalpha in #1, even if my friend and I are not) coming along, but the other two are iffy as the film is only showing in 3D in our area & 3D gives them headaches. :/

març 7, 2012, 11:27pm

In related news, it seems the Library of America is letting Tarzan and John Carter come out and play with the big boys and girls:

març 7, 2012, 11:50pm

Some typically condescending, uninformed nonsense on ERB from The New York Times:

març 8, 2012, 8:47am

>15 artturnerjr:

Ooooo... I do need a nice copy of Tarzan in my library!

>16 artturnerjr:

C'mon, if A NYT reviewer even hinted that it's ok to read merely for pleasure, they'd be kicked out of the club! I bet this guy pores over A Princess of Mars under the covers with a flashlight every night.

Editat: març 8, 2012, 11:40am

Thus Charles McGrath in the NYT:
Seldom, if ever, out of print, “Princess” has enjoyed a remarkable shelf life not so much in libraries or classrooms as in the cluttered, dreamy, overheated minds of teenage boys and certain grown-ups.
Okay, I can tolerate being called a "certain grown-up" with a "cluttered, dreamy, overheated mind."
Out of nostalgia or affection they have preserved that part of their mental storeroom from housecleaning....
Au contraire! "That part of my mental storeroom" (a boneheaded and inaccurate metaphor) probably receives far more than its due of custodial attention!

març 8, 2012, 11:53am

And another thing: What's this McGrath says about Frazetta never having read the Barsoom stories? How on earth did he provide all of that b&w interior art, then? I mean, I know cover artists sometimes don't read the books they help to package (sometimes they aren't even afforded the opportunity), and MANA-YOOD-SUSHAI knows, a miss is as good as a mile, but Frazetta is right up there with Whelan and Jusko in terms of his realization of Barsoom as images.

Editat: març 8, 2012, 8:49pm

>19 paradoxosalpha:

As if Frazetta should change his style to accommodate the likes of Mr. McGrath in his mad search for a realistic portrayal of Barsoom.

Also, I doubt very much that ERB would have categorized his work as "science fiction". I realize that the term might have technically been used as early as the 1850's, and is generally attributed to Hugo Gernsback in the 1920's, but the usage as we know it (or as Mr. McGrath implies in the article) simply did not exist when ERB wrote the Mars books. He was under no obligation to sate Mr. McGrath's lust for spacehips or rayguns. Maybe ERB would have called them "fantasy" or "adventure" stories, but something tells me he wouldn't advertise any of them as "my latest SF thriller!".

That web site is hilarious - thanks!

març 8, 2012, 12:23pm

> 20

Agreed: It's fatuous to criticize ERB's planetary romances for being "unrealistic science fiction," since their goals were neither realism nor conforming to a futurist science fiction genre that didn't really exist at the time.

març 8, 2012, 12:58pm

I will see the film. I loved the series when I read it at 18. I also had to have every volume be the same set (the same cover art).

I can tell that the film will not look like the story did in my head, or even how it was literally described in the books, but that's almost always the way. I do my best to think of films as separate entities from books. Helps me not get too upset about additions and omissions.

març 8, 2012, 1:09pm

> 22

Yes, I'm deliberately reading some sword-and-planet other than Burroughs' Barsoom to get me in the mood for the film. I'll go back and re-read some ERB afterwards.

març 9, 2012, 10:59am

Here's a positive review to lift the spirits of those of us who intend to see it anyway.

març 9, 2012, 11:13am

març 9, 2012, 12:49pm

>24 paradoxosalpha: & 25

Deliberately avoiding reading reviews until I see the film. As much as possible, I want whatever thoughts I have on it to be my own.

Speaking of seeing the film, finally(!) seem to have all my friends commited to seeing a late show tonight. I love my buddies dearly, but getting them all to agree on something is a bit like herding cats. :/

març 9, 2012, 7:25pm

Tickets purchased! Gonna go see it tonight (in IMAX 3D, no less). If you never hear from me again, I got stuck on Barsoom. ;)

març 9, 2012, 11:22pm

I'm half-tempted, and I know my wife would go. Let us know, Art...

març 10, 2012, 9:16am

It was pretty good, if a bit Disney round the edges.

març 10, 2012, 12:20pm

Back from Barsoom. Executive summary: Fun escapist science fantasy flick. I thought the 3D presentation was pretty good, although this was the 1st 3D film I've seen in about 30 years, so I am hardly an expert on the subject. I am gonna have to go back on my earlier statement and at least glance at some other reviews before I write mine as I'm not sure about the nomenclature of a new(!) alien race added to the film & and not finding what I'm looking for on Wikipedia etc. So... full review & link to same to come. :)

Editat: març 10, 2012, 1:53pm

> 30

New alien race! It's funny, the press on the movie seems to stress its fidelity to the ERB source material, but I'm increasingly suspecting that none of these reviewers have actually read it.

Editat: març 10, 2012, 7:16pm

Correction to #30:

Not a new alien race, but rather the Therns ( from The Gods of Mars changed around a bit and getting incorporated into the story a little earlier. Got confused primarily because I haven't read the original series in about a decade. :/

març 11, 2012, 6:37pm

Article on the disappointing domestic box office performance of JOHN CARTER:

març 16, 2012, 10:01pm

I'm going to see it in about 3 hours.

març 17, 2012, 4:50am

I enjoyed it. Good fun. Obviously the film is a different entity than the books. And there is far too much story to put into one film. But that's ok.

març 17, 2012, 9:44am

Hoping to catch it tomorrow.

> 35 too much story to put into one film

Ordinarily, I expect that of modern novels. But a Barsoom story could be an exception. Actually, ERB's plotting and pacing was foundational to the development of exotic adventure movies -- via Tarzan, of course.

març 17, 2012, 10:21am

Well, I meant the series, as a whole, can't be condensed into one regular feature-length film.

I reference the entire series in my memory; not just the first novel. They chose specific pieces to put into the film, and I think they did a decent job. Some inconsistencies with chronology, but decent.

març 17, 2012, 12:24pm

Keep the reports coming, guys. I just hope that JOHN CARTER lasts long enough in the theaters for me to see it!

març 17, 2012, 12:29pm

ERB side note- Netflix has AT THE EARTH'S CORE available for streaming. 1976 Amicus production with Peter Cushing, Doug McClure and Caroline Munro. Sort of a sequel to THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT, which I remember liking well enough way back when.

març 17, 2012, 2:45pm

> 37 the series, as a whole, can't be condensed into one regular feature-length film

Well, if they even tried, shame on them! The buzz was that they were hoping to launch a Star Wars-scale franchise, with a vintage literary property (compare The Lord of the Rings).

Editat: març 17, 2012, 3:42pm

Really loved this! Script, actors, design . . but I knew it was going to work for me when I read that both Michael Moorcock and Kim Newman thought the filmmakers had made a fine job of it.

març 17, 2012, 8:15pm

39 KentomSem

I thought 'People That Time Forgot' was the Sequel to Land That Time Forgot? It's interesting to note that the Script of the 'Land that Time Forgot' was written by Michael Moorcock who was a big ERB fan and got his own start writing Tarzan Fanzines :-)

març 17, 2012, 8:29pm

>42 cosmicdolphin:

Whoops! You're right, cosmicdolphin. I stand corrected. 1977's THE PEOPLE THAT TIME FORGOT (also starring Doug McClure - how did McClure evolve into the Burroughs adaptation go-to guy back then?) was the direct sequel to THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT. AT THERE EARTH'S CORE was an unrelated side-trip. All three were released by MGM under the British Amicus productions banner. What a triple feature that would be!

Editat: març 18, 2012, 8:33am

I think that Doug McClure just happened to be available to be the American star that British movies needed to get backing and distribution, and he does a pretty good job. These three movies (and ERB's SF in general) were a big part of my childhood. I rewatched Land That Time Forgot recently, and was quite impressed by it: faithful to the source material, and no talking down to the kids in the audience. Characters get shot down and don't get up again, and the ending is pretty bleak.

All three films depend heavily on life-size rubber monsters, either men in suits or props, with variable results. At The Earth's Core is badly undermined by the fact that this method doesn't really work for the Mahars, the villainous pterodactyl people: their wings aren't big enough to support them and don't move convincingly, leaving them oversize examples of what connoisseurs of the Hammer vampire moves refer to as 'crap bat syndrome'.

març 18, 2012, 8:30pm

Just got back from seeing John Carter in the theater. It wasn't a movie about falling rocks! It was really pretty good; in fact, I have no major complaints.

The acting was solid (Lynn Collins ok!). The effects were convincing without taking over the movie. The violence was suitably extreme, and satsifyingly fast, in order to maintain a reasonably high story-to-violence ratio. They left it open for a sequel, and now that they have all that scenery and alien anatomy in the digital can, it would be a shame to put it to waste.

Still, the box office has been a little anemic, and it seems like the press has been rooting for it to fail. So if you haven't gone to see it yet, go ahead!

It was really gratifying to see the sort of high-end production effects that Lucas created and abused in his later Star Wars movies being put to use to tell one of the stories that had been ripped off in the original Star Wars (Episode "Four").

Editat: març 18, 2012, 10:42pm

There's a review/essay floating around that argues that John Carter Was Doomed by Its First Trailer

Having seen a fan-made trailer that's more interesting than the real thing, I'd say that's a plausible argument.

Editat: març 19, 2012, 10:51am

Yes, the trailers were lamentable, and made me think I would not like the movie. (See #1 in this thread!) The article linked from #46 also offers the interesting supposition that the movie failed from seeming "unoriginal," because Barsoom had already been looted piecemeal by Hollywood. But the LOTR movies were "unoriginal" just the same way.

Editat: març 19, 2012, 11:07am

>47 paradoxosalpha:

Saw the trailer early on a just laughed at it, so I was kind of surprised at the relatively good buzz it was receiving from some of the more knowledgeable fans and critics.

I do have an extremely SF- knowledgeable friend who pretty much knows what I hate about modern movies who nearly convinced me that for the sake of my sanity, I might want to just watch this on dvd, but then there are the reports from the extremely knowledgeable WT folks here making me think just go. Normally this wouldn't be an issue, but having a two-year-old and having to set up a babysitter, etc., the film had better be worth my time. I know - if the thing is still in theaters in two weeks (the next window of opportunity), my wife and I will just go! :)

març 20, 2012, 8:18am

The Warlord of Red Ink is, apparently, what Disney has here. KentonSem, you might want to get there sooner than in two weeks - it likely won't be there by then.

març 20, 2012, 8:31am

> 49

The Red Martians in the movie are indeed all adorned with red ink!

There's an accidental invocation if ever there was one.

març 21, 2012, 12:05am

I saw a TV piece today suggesting Disney is expecting to take a $200 Million Dollar Loss on John Carter out of the ($250 Million Budget + $100 Million+ they spent on marketing.

Editat: març 22, 2012, 9:08am

> 51

That marketing sure wasn't worth $100M!

març 22, 2012, 1:26am

#51 - That story is on the internet, too:

"John Carter" Could Be Biggest Writeoff of All Time

març 22, 2012, 6:31am

Maybe Disney wants a Tax Writeoff ;-)

març 22, 2012, 7:09am

Should've used the original title. Any Disney movie with "Princess" in the title has to at least break even, right?

març 22, 2012, 8:36am

>51 cosmicdolphin:

Okay - am I the only one that sees those figures and says, "That's completely fucking crazy"? Over a third of a billion-with-a-"b" dollars on a goddamn movie? You could feed the population of a third-world country for a year with that kind of dough.

març 22, 2012, 10:56am

I've stated elsewhere that we should just consider ourselves lucky that the studio didn't go ” high concept” and give us JOHN CARTER PRINCESS OF MARS, with Jack Black in a dual role as both John and Dejah.

març 22, 2012, 8:04pm

artturnerjr > 56,

Right, at the $1/day, crushing-poverty level, a million people for a year, about. I like to think there are resources enough for both, but certainly that's not how the world works.

març 23, 2012, 11:29pm

I see that A Princess of Mars is the most-downloaded book over at Project Gutenberg over the last 30 days:

So, if nothing else, all the hubbub appears to be getting people to go back and read the damn novel.

març 24, 2012, 10:21am

The Economist has a piece about why the filmed flopped.

(TL:DR version: the marketing stank, starting with the unnecessarily nondescript title.)

març 24, 2012, 6:50pm

>60 AndreasJ:

Not tl;dr for me - actually a pretty perceptive & concise piece.

març 25, 2012, 8:33am

artturnerjr >59 artturnerjr:,

My reread of Princess was of the iBookstore free download, which is a Gutenberg version - but PG could not actually count my iBook download. So the actual number of readers will be larger than their counter shows.

març 25, 2012, 1:10pm

març 30, 2012, 8:33am

Just-right review of John Carter by LT denizen Iansales.

març 31, 2012, 12:31am

OK, OK: One of my kids made me go see it.

I liked it.

març 31, 2012, 10:06am

març 31, 2012, 11:52am

Thanks for that.

(Have you seen John Carter?)

març 31, 2012, 3:57pm

No. Waiting for the disk. I'd rather they went bust; then maybe Hollywood will be less likely to make movies based on my favorite books. Not that Burroughs is, particularly, but what if they get their hands on Distress or Star Light?

març 31, 2012, 4:26pm

I decided to wait for the JC DVD.

>68 dukedom_enough:

I know what you mean. In most cases, I will actually avoid films based on my favorite novels. Not always possible, though, especially if said film is coming from one of my favorite directors! :-P

abr. 1, 2012, 12:52am

Somewhat unbelievably, I just discovered that the Barsoom books in LT were variously assigned to the "Barsoom" series and the "Barsoom series" series in Common Knowledge.

Fixed it.

abr. 6, 2012, 6:20pm

Could it be true? The people who dropped "of Mars" from the movie title were right, and American audiences are incapable of enjoying a movie where they have to suspend their disbelief about adventures on Mars?

abr. 7, 2012, 10:34am

Funny, though (because?) immature. Maybe they need to try the Burroughs or Kline Venus stories next. :-)

abr. 7, 2012, 1:52pm

As a longstanding fan of mostly-naked sword and planet fiction, I'm not sure I have the standing to deride anyone for "immaturity." ;-)

abr. 7, 2012, 2:13pm

Back in the 1970s there appeared a Doc Savage movie. Doc was played satirically, and was reasonably funny. Maybe that's what's needed for Barsoom.

abr. 23, 2012, 8:48pm

The LoA edition of A Princess of Mars mentioned in #15 is available for preview at Google Books:

Many thanks to DanMat for the heads-up.

The introduction by Pulitzer Prize winner Junot Díaz is causing quite a stir over at the Library of America Subscribers group; I rather liked it myself.

abr. 23, 2012, 11:16pm

As far as that thread about the introduction I sort of agree with the sentiment that foul language is unnecessary. At the same time though everyone in the book is running around completely naked the whole time. I'm not sure how youth appropriate that is for some people in itself.

abr. 24, 2012, 4:30pm

>76 Thulean:

Then again, if you really wanna have some splainin to do after your kid reads an ERB novel, try giving them a copy of Tarzan of the Apes! :D

Editat: jul. 2, 2016, 3:52pm

Looks like a high-profile movie featuring that other famous Edgar Rice Burroughs character hit theaters this week. Seems like it's doing better than expected business at the box office, in spite of lackluster reviews:

I'll probably catch it eventually to see the work of Quentin Tarantino stalwarts Samuel L. Jackson and Christoph Waltz, if for no other reason.

ETA: Interesting to note that the behind-the-scenes bad guy in this one appears to be none other than Leopold II of Belguim, who has cropped up in our discussions here before (see here: and especially here: ff.).