05 March 2012

John Carter

We went to see John Carter Saturday evening. My wife and the girls loved it. I probably would have liked it, too, if Disney hadn't been trying to pass it off as a book I've read four or five times. Unfortunately, it's one of the worst cases of Hollywood vs The Author I've ever seen.

Yes, I understand that some changes are necessary when converting a book into a movie, such as compressing or deleting scenes in order to keep the film to a reasonable length. But most of the changes in this story seem utterly needless, such as a scene at the beginning where a colonel tries to draft former Confederate officer Carter into the US Cavalry; the whole point of this seemed to be to show A) how stubborn Carter is, and B) what a great punching bag he makes.

What puzzles me, really, is that the director (Andrew Stanton) and the scriptwriters (Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon) didn't want to take full credit for their flights of imagination. If you're going to change a story this much, why not just make it a new story and claim it as your own, instead of saying it's someone else's? Change the names, leave out a couple of scenes (such as Carter's tomb and his translation to Mars), tweak the CGI (remove the extra arms from the Tharks and Warhoons), and probably no-one would connect it with A Princess of Mars.

John Carter will be released this Friday, 9 Mar 12. If you like a fantasy/SF movie with a (more or less) studly hero, a hot chick, lots of action and good special effects, you'll probably like it. Just don't expect to see a story by Edgar Rice Burroughs....

A Princess of Mars can be found at Gutenberg.

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