|Taylor Kitsch as John Carter of Mars|
As a kid, I loved the Edgar Rice Burroughs' novels about Civil War soldier John Carter and his adventures on Mars (called 'Barsoom' by it's inhabitants). Burroughs (probably best known as the creator of Tarzan) imagined a violent planet in a constant state of war, with Carter as it's prophesied savoir. I always thought the stories would make for some terrific movies, though I can't imagine how they could have been made with any accuracy before the advent of CGI.
Now that the technology exists, Disney has adapted Burroughs' first Barsoom novel ("A Princess of Mars") for the big screen. John Carter stars "Friday Night Lights" star Taylor Kitsch in the title role of a man who finds himself transported to another planet where lower gravity gives him super-strength and the ability to leap great distances. In the novels, Carter does all his battling in the nude. This being a Disney film, Kitsch spends the movie wearing a leather loin-cloth and not much else (not that I'm complaining). I imagined Carter as older than Kitsch, though I can't fault director Andrew Stanton (Toy Story; Finding Nemo; Wall-E) for casting the very hot up-and-comer in the role. Of course, the supporting cast ain't too shabby. Samantha Morten, Willem Dafoe; Thomas Hayden Church; Mark Strong; Dominic West; James Purefoy and Bryan Cranston all play parts, though some (like DaFoe) appear in motion capture performances which render them unrecognizable.
Disney has a lot riding on John Carter; it's $250M budget among them. Disney's forays into Sci-Fi (The Black Hole; Tron) haven't always been critical darlings. Still, Stanton's track record with Pixar has been nothing short of amazing. I hope he'll do just as well (if not, better) with his first foray into live-action.
Regardless, I know that I will definitely be seeing John Carter during its first weekend. With 11 novels from Burroughs himself (published between 1912 and 1964) and two more by his son, Disney certainly has a potentially huge franchise on their hands. I only hope they've done the series justice.
John Carter will be released on March 9th.