Monday, July 11, 2011

John Carter of Mars images

Found: a couple of images from the upcoming John Carter of Mars film:

Before Star Wars and Avatar, and long before party-pooping scientists announced that the chances of anything living there were million-to-one, there was John Carter of Mars, star of Tarzan author Edgar Rice Burroughs' long-running series of novels about a civil war veteran who is inexplicably transported to the red planet. First published in 1912, the series kicked off a planetary romance genre that helped spawn the likes of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers. Now the first installment in the 11-book series is being adapted by Disney into a live action film. Andrew Stanton, the Oscar-winning director of Wall-E and Finding Nemo, makes his live action debut on John Carter, which seems to have lost the 'Mars' tag somewhere along the way. 'In 2006, midway through making Wall-E, I was thinking about what I wanted to do next,' he told us. "I called Disney and asked: "Would you guys be willing to give me a shot and try this? I see it as a hybrid – half CG [computer graphics], half live action. Maybe you’d be willing to take a chance on me in the live action part, because I’m pretty sure I can do the CG part." I lucked out. They said yes'. John Carter stars Taylor Kitsch as Carter. He's a former Confederate soldier from Virginia who gains the equivalent of superpowers after being transported to Mars (due to the planet's lower gravity), which the locals call Barsoom. He soon meets the gorgeous Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and finds himself embroiled in a three-way battle for the planet's future. 'Taylor does "damaged goods" really well, and he’s very good with broken characters,' said Stanton. 'Lynn Collins wasn't even on the map for me. I didn't know her work until she walked in and brought a strength and an intelligence that was so arresting, I just couldn't forget her'. Thoris is a 'red' (humanoid) Martian and princess of Helium, seen here from above. The city-state has been warring with rival human metropolis Zodanga for centuries. To complicate matters, Mars is also home to a clan of 10ft-tall, four-armed 'green' Martians named Tharks. Carter finds himself thrust into the centre of the action – some of the footage we saw had him encountering the Tharks after arriving on Barsoom, and discovering his abilities for the first time. A bravura sequence showed him leaping 40ft in the air and landing without injury. Some have been referring to John Carter as a Pixar live action movie, although it's being released under the Disney brand. That's largely because Stanton is best-known for his work with the animation studio (which is owned by Disney these days anyway). How different was the experience? 'I think, honestly, the biggest surprise was how little difference there was between animation and live action,' Stanton told us. Animation director Eamonn Butler was also on hand to explain the unique challenges of integrating CGI Tharks with human actors and the real Earth landscapes that doubled for the surface of Barsoom. Two of the most prominent Tharks – Tars Tarkas and his daughter Sola – are played in motion capture by Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton. 'I wanted the best actors I could find, even though they're ultimately not going to be on the screen,' Stanton told us. 'I learned something a long time ago at Pixar: it's all about the voice quality, the eyes, and the acting ability'. Stanton aims to make at least two sequels to John Carter, and his team have created a universe that might easily support many more. The attention to detail in the Martian cityscapes, and in the styles and cultures of the various Barsoom races, suggests a fabulously rich, beautifully realised rendition of Burroughs' world. Yet this is a preposterously ambitious project, and an earth-shattering amount of cash to splash on a genre that lends itself to box office failure (Flash Gordon) as often as it yields splendid dividends (Star Wars). John Carter may emerge as the new Avatar, but it could just as easily wind up the sci-fi equivalent of Heaven's Gate. 
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