Friday, January 15, 2010

Life on Mars?

Screw links, if you're a nerd and you love movies today is a huge HUGE day.

Edgar Rice Buroughs is a name some of you may know, he created Tarzan after all (and if you're one of my many L.A. readers you know he lived in what is now Tarzana and the area is subsequently named after his creation). But Tarzan isn't his only famous creation. The other is John Carter of Mars who starred in a series of pulp novels (eleven to be exact) about a time and space lost Civil War soldier who became a barbarian hero on the fantastic landscape of Mars. The character and series has had a huge impact on sci-fi, influencing everything from Star Wars to Avatar. This property is one filled with dynamic and original visuals (many characters are at least ten feet tall and have multiple arms and are more multi-colored then a Benneton ad) that have, up until now, been incredibly difficult to capture on screen. Directors and producers have been trying to put these stories on screen for years (Bob Clampett, Ray Harryhausen, Robert Rodriguez and John Favreau are but a few of the names). We're talking about nearly a century of trying to bring these incredible stories to the screen. Now though, today specifically, is the day principal photography begins on the first of what we can only hope will be many Carter films.

Why should you care about a series you've probably never even heard of before? Especially two years before its release? Here's five reasons.

1. An incredibly accomplished director: Andrew Stanton
Can't place the name? You've seen it at the end of two of the best films of the past decade. I'm talking about Finding Nemo and Wall-E. As a high ranking creative at Pixar Stanton knows how to dazzle,thrill, move and most importantly entertain a mass audience. But unlike many of his blockbuster bretren this is a director who refuses to talk down to his audience. Stanton's first forray into live-action guarantees that story and character will be a top priority over effects, explosions and bloodshed (though there should be plenty of those two). Also, no worries about this being a toned down because Stanton's worked on family films. The film is rated a more adult friendly PG-13.

2. It's got an amazing cast.
Representatives from virtually every corner of this golden age of TV show up on this cast list. Dominic West from the Wire, Bryan Cranston from Breaking Bad, James Purefoy from Rome and as Carter himself Friday Night Lights' Taylor Kitsch. That's not to say the film has skewed conventional film actors either; Willem Dafoe, Thomas Hayden Church, Ciaran Hands, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton and Lynn Collins (ok I'm a little sketchy on that last one). That's some serious talent behind the arms, tusks and tails that will be on display.

3. It's got a slick crew.
Production design from the man that brought us the rebooted Batman Nathan Crowley, Avatar costume designer Mayes Rubeo, viseual effects from Peter Chiang who did the same for Stardust and the Bourne Ultimatum and Star Trek's DP Daniel Mindel. If you don't know those names, you definitely know their work.

4. The script should be top notch.
In addition to Stanton, who's helped craft a lot of Pixar's content, noted novelist and occasional screenwriter Michael Chabon. Chabon has the remarkable of not only being a master of genre tropes but also is capable of creating multi-dimensional characters. These two working together is a very exciting prospect.

5. It's got a look that you haven't quite seen before.
Crazy no?

You excited yet? You have two years. I can't wait.

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