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Author Topic: [Book] John Carter of Mars  (Read 1019 times)
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« on: July 16, 2012, 08:25:32 PM »

For the first time, EVER, I've read this book (and its direct sequel).

I'm really enjoying it, though I hated the way in which the second book ended.

Just starting the third book now.
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« Reply #1 on: July 16, 2012, 08:35:49 PM »

That and the Solomon Kane series from Howard got me through junior high and high school.  I was greatly disappointed in the movie's reception and box office as I really wanted to see the director given more free reign in later entries in the franchise so he could do them justice.  But I doubt we'll see another John Carter movie...well...ever. 

One reviewer noted that many of the themes and stories from the John Carter series found their way into so many recent films (well...films over the last few decades) that audiences thought they were watching a rehash of a bunch of other films...not realizing for the most part that they were watching the original inspiration for those films.
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« Reply #2 on: July 17, 2012, 02:56:35 AM »

That was the series of books that got me into science fiction as a kid.  I was stuck in a hotel in a hurricane in Hawaii with my parents when I was 11, they bought me 'A Princess of Mars', 'The Gods of Mars', and 'Warlord of Mars' to keep me out of their hair - it worked!  I think I've read the series 11 or so times in my life (its been probably 10 years or more since the last read through though).
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« Reply #3 on: July 17, 2012, 04:54:45 AM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 16, 2012, 08:35:49 PM

One reviewer noted that many of the themes and stories from the John Carter series found their way into so many recent films (well...films over the last few decades) that audiences thought they were watching a rehash of a bunch of other films...not realizing for the most part that they were watching the original inspiration for those films.

This is so true.  Some of the movie reviews pan this for "stealing" from Star Wars and pretty much any post 1975 sci-fi movie even though images in many of these post-1975 movies (especially several Star Wars images) are taken directly from drawings in the Edgar Rice Burroughs novels.

1) Princess Leia in the "gold bra" when chained next to Jabba the Hut - is darn near replica of an illustration in Princess of Mars.
2) The flat hovercraft in Star Wars - same thing.
3) One of the important races in Princess of Mars - stolen by The Phantom Menace.

I could go on for awhile, but that is enough.

The flaw is folks, including many reviewers, believing the post-75 sci-fi movies were the originators, not Edgar Rice Burroughs.


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« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2012, 03:59:44 PM »

I haven't seen the film yet, but while I agree that Burroughs was the progenitor of so much of the SciFi and Fantasy world, you can't blame folks for not realizing it.

It's up to the filmmakers to know what is in the collective unconscious and build on that.  There were ways to make the movie happen without having it seem like it was ripping off other works.  You can't assume that people will know source material from nearly a century ago and that they won't be thinking of imagery from the most popular films of the last handful of decades.  Know your audience.

Part of the reason Star Wars worked was that it was fun for kids, but it also evoked so many elements of stuff that came before, mixing them together and making them its own.  Hell, Lucas even lifted bits whole from other works, sometimes from the same genre!  I'm sure there were people who balked at the "innovative" scroll at the beginning being originated by Flash Gordon, but I think more people appreciated the nod (or didn't know about it at all).

I'm not sure what the solution would be for JC.  Maybe embracing what came from the books but before the movie even further would have done it?  I don't know.  But clearly someone should have figured something out.
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« Reply #5 on: July 17, 2012, 05:37:47 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 03:59:44 PM

 There were ways to make the movie happen without having it seem like it was ripping off other works.  

Yes, throw away anything from the original books, set it in an alternate dimension, make the Tharks into sentient amoebas and set it in the year 2013.

There's no way to make a John Carter book without actually including stuff FROM the John Carter books.  To do otherwise is to make a movie that isn't John Carter.
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« Reply #6 on: July 17, 2012, 05:40:23 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 17, 2012, 05:37:47 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 03:59:44 PM

 There were ways to make the movie happen without having it seem like it was ripping off other works.  

Yes, throw away anything from the original books, set it in an alternate dimension, make the Tharks into sentient amoebas and set it in the year 2013.

There's no way to make a John Carter book without actually including stuff FROM the John Carter books.  To do otherwise is to make a movie that isn't John Carter.

But you're speaking contextually.  I was talking about visually.  Yes the descriptions were in the books and there were even illustrations, but it didn't have to be so similar to what has come before this film.

Look at the orcs in LOTR.  They originated in the books, of course, and we've seen them for decades since then, but they didn't look like what we've seen, yet they were decidedly Tolkienesque.  Look at the elves, too, who didn't necessarily look all that different from other elves we've seen, but were handled with a grace and softness in film style, that it made them not feel cliched.
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« Reply #7 on: July 17, 2012, 05:44:52 PM »

The story was what many of the reviewers who weren't familiar with the source material were decrying as derivative.  From what I read, most reviews seemed to appreciate the visual aesthetics of the film.

The appearance of the Orcs wasn't even close to being a "make it or break it" aspect of LoTR, imho. As for the elves, I'm not sure how Jackson did anything but draw them directly from the book.  Go back and watch Bakshi's adaptation.   You'll see intrinsically the same visualizations.

I think Lord of the Rings is a far more recognizable franchise even in today's world and at that particular time than John Carter, in any case.  Ask around before the LoTR films premiered which book series the person had heard of and I'm betting the overwhelming majority would point towards LoTR rather than JC.
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« Reply #8 on: July 17, 2012, 05:52:27 PM »

I would agree that LOTR is more recognizable - and this is coming from someone who's read most-if-not-all Tarzan novels, and didn't know who John Carter was until I read an interview with the director.

LoTR is also post-WWII (in being published). It's modern for all intents, whereas John Carter is not.  LoTR redefined the image of "elf" from "Keebler" to "Forest Ranger" - as I understand it, Sci-fi heroes experienced this shift based on John Carter (correct me if I'm wrong).
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« Reply #9 on: July 17, 2012, 06:36:32 PM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 17, 2012, 05:44:52 PM

The story was what many of the reviewers who weren't familiar with the source material were decrying as derivative.  From what I read, most reviews seemed to appreciate the visual aesthetics of the film.

The appearance of the Orcs wasn't even close to being a "make it or break it" aspect of LoTR, imho. As for the elves, I'm not sure how Jackson did anything but draw them directly from the book.  Go back and watch Bakshi's adaptation.   You'll see intrinsically the same visualizations.

I think Lord of the Rings is a far more recognizable franchise even in today's world and at that particular time than John Carter, in any case.  Ask around before the LoTR films premiered which book series the person had heard of and I'm betting the overwhelming majority would point towards LoTR rather than JC.


Well, as I say, I haven't seen it yet, but I did see the trailer and what felt a little too familiar to me was not the story but the images.  

No question LOTR is more familiar, but that's a double-edged sword.  Because of that, we got D&D and then all the images of those creatures from hundreds of games and books and comics and even films.  To the point where many knew what an elf was before they saw the first LOTR movie, yet it still felt fresh.  Yes, Jackson pulled from the source material, but another director could have done the same thing, but without the attention to ambiance and pacing that pulled forth the ethereal qualities of the race.  It was even done in makeup and subtle use of special effects, not just to make them pale, but to make their eyes just a little bigger and remove small traces of wrinkles to the point where you really got the feeling that these were truly beautiful creatures.  As Tolkien intended, yes, but my point is that it's challenging to pull off and make it feel fresh.

I don't mean to come down on JC.  I actually think I'll enjoy the film when I get to it.  I just meant to say that you can't put it on the audience for wanting to see something new, no matter what the lineage.
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« Reply #10 on: July 17, 2012, 07:30:47 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 06:36:32 PM

Quote from: hepcat on July 17, 2012, 05:44:52 PM

The story was what many of the reviewers who weren't familiar with the source material were decrying as derivative.  From what I read, most reviews seemed to appreciate the visual aesthetics of the film.

The appearance of the Orcs wasn't even close to being a "make it or break it" aspect of LoTR, imho. As for the elves, I'm not sure how Jackson did anything but draw them directly from the book.  Go back and watch Bakshi's adaptation.   You'll see intrinsically the same visualizations.

I think Lord of the Rings is a far more recognizable franchise even in today's world and at that particular time than John Carter, in any case.  Ask around before the LoTR films premiered which book series the person had heard of and I'm betting the overwhelming majority would point towards LoTR rather than JC.


Well, as I say, I haven't seen it yet, but I did see the trailer and what felt a little too familiar to me was not the story but the images.  

No question LOTR is more familiar, but that's a double-edged sword.  Because of that, we got D&D and then all the images of those creatures from hundreds of games and books and comics and even films.  To the point where many knew what an elf was before they saw the first LOTR movie, yet it still felt fresh.  Yes, Jackson pulled from the source material, but another director could have done the same thing, but without the attention to ambiance and pacing that pulled forth the ethereal qualities of the race.  It was even done in makeup and subtle use of special effects, not just to make them pale, but to make their eyes just a little bigger and remove small traces of wrinkles to the point where you really got the feeling that these were truly beautiful creatures.  As Tolkien intended, yes, but my point is that it's challenging to pull off and make it feel fresh.

I don't mean to come down on JC.  I actually think I'll enjoy the film when I get to it.  I just meant to say that you can't put it on the audience for wanting to see something new, no matter what the lineage.

And I would blame that on the audience and reviewers for not knowing the source material, not the movie for actually making a movie from the source material.  When the books give really good illustrations of things, not including them would be silly.  It's not the fault of this movie that other movies took directly from ERB's works.
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« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 07:43:25 PM »

John Carter's failures as a movie went well beyond the audience/critics thinking it was derivative.  Here's one of the many articles discussing what went wrong.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/21/john-carter-disney-s-quarter-billion-dollar-movie-fiasco.html
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« Reply #12 on: July 17, 2012, 08:16:56 PM »

Quote from: theohall on July 17, 2012, 07:30:47 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 06:36:32 PM

Quote from: hepcat on July 17, 2012, 05:44:52 PM

The story was what many of the reviewers who weren't familiar with the source material were decrying as derivative.  From what I read, most reviews seemed to appreciate the visual aesthetics of the film.

The appearance of the Orcs wasn't even close to being a "make it or break it" aspect of LoTR, imho. As for the elves, I'm not sure how Jackson did anything but draw them directly from the book.  Go back and watch Bakshi's adaptation.   You'll see intrinsically the same visualizations.

I think Lord of the Rings is a far more recognizable franchise even in today's world and at that particular time than John Carter, in any case.  Ask around before the LoTR films premiered which book series the person had heard of and I'm betting the overwhelming majority would point towards LoTR rather than JC.


Well, as I say, I haven't seen it yet, but I did see the trailer and what felt a little too familiar to me was not the story but the images.  

No question LOTR is more familiar, but that's a double-edged sword.  Because of that, we got D&D and then all the images of those creatures from hundreds of games and books and comics and even films.  To the point where many knew what an elf was before they saw the first LOTR movie, yet it still felt fresh.  Yes, Jackson pulled from the source material, but another director could have done the same thing, but without the attention to ambiance and pacing that pulled forth the ethereal qualities of the race.  It was even done in makeup and subtle use of special effects, not just to make them pale, but to make their eyes just a little bigger and remove small traces of wrinkles to the point where you really got the feeling that these were truly beautiful creatures.  As Tolkien intended, yes, but my point is that it's challenging to pull off and make it feel fresh.

I don't mean to come down on JC.  I actually think I'll enjoy the film when I get to it.  I just meant to say that you can't put it on the audience for wanting to see something new, no matter what the lineage.

And I would blame that on the audience and reviewers for not knowing the source material, not the movie for actually making a movie from the source material.  When the books give really good illustrations of things, not including them would be silly.  It's not the fault of this movie that other movies took directly from ERB's works.

Well, that's ridiculous.  You can't require the audience to have read the book in advance, no matter how good the book may be. The burden is on the filmmakers to use the source material in an effective way that rings true for the fans but feels fresh and exciting for the other people they want to buy tickets.
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« Reply #13 on: July 17, 2012, 10:07:32 PM »

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 08:16:56 PM

Quote from: theohall on July 17, 2012, 07:30:47 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 06:36:32 PM

Quote from: hepcat on July 17, 2012, 05:44:52 PM

The story was what many of the reviewers who weren't familiar with the source material were decrying as derivative.  From what I read, most reviews seemed to appreciate the visual aesthetics of the film.

The appearance of the Orcs wasn't even close to being a "make it or break it" aspect of LoTR, imho. As for the elves, I'm not sure how Jackson did anything but draw them directly from the book.  Go back and watch Bakshi's adaptation.   You'll see intrinsically the same visualizations.

I think Lord of the Rings is a far more recognizable franchise even in today's world and at that particular time than John Carter, in any case.  Ask around before the LoTR films premiered which book series the person had heard of and I'm betting the overwhelming majority would point towards LoTR rather than JC.


Well, as I say, I haven't seen it yet, but I did see the trailer and what felt a little too familiar to me was not the story but the images.  

No question LOTR is more familiar, but that's a double-edged sword.  Because of that, we got D&D and then all the images of those creatures from hundreds of games and books and comics and even films.  To the point where many knew what an elf was before they saw the first LOTR movie, yet it still felt fresh.  Yes, Jackson pulled from the source material, but another director could have done the same thing, but without the attention to ambiance and pacing that pulled forth the ethereal qualities of the race.  It was even done in makeup and subtle use of special effects, not just to make them pale, but to make their eyes just a little bigger and remove small traces of wrinkles to the point where you really got the feeling that these were truly beautiful creatures.  As Tolkien intended, yes, but my point is that it's challenging to pull off and make it feel fresh.

I don't mean to come down on JC.  I actually think I'll enjoy the film when I get to it.  I just meant to say that you can't put it on the audience for wanting to see something new, no matter what the lineage.

And I would blame that on the audience and reviewers for not knowing the source material, not the movie for actually making a movie from the source material.  When the books give really good illustrations of things, not including them would be silly.  It's not the fault of this movie that other movies took directly from ERB's works.

Well, that's ridiculous.  You can't require the audience to have read the book in advance, no matter how good the book may be. The burden is on the filmmakers to use the source material in an effective way that rings true for the fans but feels fresh and exciting for the other people they want to buy tickets.

Kind of hard for a movie maker to do when darn near every iconic image in the book has been used by already made movies.  Doing otherwise, then it's not "John Carter" but some movie makers "vision" of John Carter and it gets panned for that too.
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« Reply #14 on: July 17, 2012, 11:53:25 PM »

Quote from: theohall on July 17, 2012, 10:07:32 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 08:16:56 PM

Quote from: theohall on July 17, 2012, 07:30:47 PM

Quote from: Bullwinkle on July 17, 2012, 06:36:32 PM

Quote from: hepcat on July 17, 2012, 05:44:52 PM

The story was what many of the reviewers who weren't familiar with the source material were decrying as derivative.  From what I read, most reviews seemed to appreciate the visual aesthetics of the film.

The appearance of the Orcs wasn't even close to being a "make it or break it" aspect of LoTR, imho. As for the elves, I'm not sure how Jackson did anything but draw them directly from the book.  Go back and watch Bakshi's adaptation.   You'll see intrinsically the same visualizations.

I think Lord of the Rings is a far more recognizable franchise even in today's world and at that particular time than John Carter, in any case.  Ask around before the LoTR films premiered which book series the person had heard of and I'm betting the overwhelming majority would point towards LoTR rather than JC.


Well, as I say, I haven't seen it yet, but I did see the trailer and what felt a little too familiar to me was not the story but the images.  

No question LOTR is more familiar, but that's a double-edged sword.  Because of that, we got D&D and then all the images of those creatures from hundreds of games and books and comics and even films.  To the point where many knew what an elf was before they saw the first LOTR movie, yet it still felt fresh.  Yes, Jackson pulled from the source material, but another director could have done the same thing, but without the attention to ambiance and pacing that pulled forth the ethereal qualities of the race.  It was even done in makeup and subtle use of special effects, not just to make them pale, but to make their eyes just a little bigger and remove small traces of wrinkles to the point where you really got the feeling that these were truly beautiful creatures.  As Tolkien intended, yes, but my point is that it's challenging to pull off and make it feel fresh.

I don't mean to come down on JC.  I actually think I'll enjoy the film when I get to it.  I just meant to say that you can't put it on the audience for wanting to see something new, no matter what the lineage.

And I would blame that on the audience and reviewers for not knowing the source material, not the movie for actually making a movie from the source material.  When the books give really good illustrations of things, not including them would be silly.  It's not the fault of this movie that other movies took directly from ERB's works.

Well, that's ridiculous.  You can't require the audience to have read the book in advance, no matter how good the book may be. The burden is on the filmmakers to use the source material in an effective way that rings true for the fans but feels fresh and exciting for the other people they want to buy tickets.

Kind of hard for a movie maker to do when darn near every iconic image in the book has been used by already made movies.  Doing otherwise, then it's not "John Carter" but some movie makers "vision" of John Carter and it gets panned for that too.

And as I've been saying, it is possible.

And as I also mentioned, they could have gone the other route and fully embraced the fact that these are tropes we've seen before and then even reveled in and played with that.
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2012, 12:04:35 AM »

Except that at that point you've got yourself a Brady Bunch update, ironic take on the source material.  Not what I wanted.

I never said that the fault lie with the audience, by the way.  I simply stated that one reviewer pointed out that much of the material might have seemed culled from other, more recent films.  And that that may have been a factor in the film's downfall.
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2012, 02:56:46 AM »

Quote from: hepcat on July 18, 2012, 12:04:35 AM

Except that at that point you've got yourself a Brady Bunch update, ironic take on the source material.  Not what I wanted.

I think you could do it without it being parody.  I don't know if it would be the right choice, but it's possible.

Quote
I never said that the fault lie with the audience, by the way.  I simply stated that one reviewer pointed out that much of the material might have seemed culled from other, more recent films.  And that that may have been a factor in the film's downfall.

I know, but then the comment was made and it spiraled from there.
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« Reply #17 on: July 18, 2012, 05:58:22 PM »

Quote from: Covenant on July 17, 2012, 07:43:25 PM

John Carter's failures as a movie went well beyond the audience/critics thinking it was derivative.  Here's one of the many articles discussing what went wrong.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/02/21/john-carter-disney-s-quarter-billion-dollar-movie-fiasco.html


Interesting read. You should check out:

http://www.cartoonbrew.com/disney/the-failure-of-john-carter-and-analyzing-andrew-stanton.html


Though I think there is some context here - Stanton did state somewhere that he thought that John Carter's name held the same weight as Tarzan, and he didn't want to see "from the director of" and "from the book by the author of" and "of Mars" all omitted.

I think we would have seen a much different ramp-up which would have driven the average Joe to go see the movie.
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« Reply #18 on: July 20, 2012, 06:23:27 PM »

My issue with the movie was that they combined things from the first three books pretty much at will, including things that made no sense to the original story. 

Also, the entire thing at the very beginning involving the Army and his family....really felt forced. 

I was really disgusted by the movie and regret buying the blu-ray of it.  To me, it's as bad an adaptation as Starship Troopers was.
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« Reply #19 on: July 20, 2012, 06:26:39 PM »

Quote from: Zarkon on July 20, 2012, 06:23:27 PM

To me, it's as bad an adaptation as Starship Troopers was.

You take that back!  Starship Troopers was cool!
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« Reply #20 on: July 20, 2012, 06:41:01 PM »

I actually enjoy Starship Troopers as the goofy take on sci fi norms that Voerhoven intended (or at least what I believe he intended). 

As for John Carter, I thought it was a sincere attempt at making a film adaptation.  When someone like Michael Bay makes an adaptation, you can almost see the formula he's using to create merchandising sales and catch phrases for t-shirts.  With John Carter, even considering all its flaws, it still comes across as a labor of love...a labor of love by someone who was in over their head...but a labor of love nonetheless.  I can forgive a lot if I think the source material is being treated with respect.
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« Reply #21 on: July 20, 2012, 06:41:14 PM »

Quote from: Zarkon on July 20, 2012, 06:23:27 PM

My issue with the movie was that they combined things from the first three books pretty much at will, including things that made no sense to the original story. 

Also, the entire thing at the very beginning involving the Army and his family....really felt forced. 

I was really disgusted by the movie and regret buying the blu-ray of it.  To me, it's as bad an adaptation as Starship Troopers was.

My kids and I had quite the opposite reaction and loved it. Saw it twice in the theater and bought the blu-ray. Sad there likely won't be any sequels.
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« Reply #22 on: July 20, 2012, 06:53:11 PM »

Yeah, i've got the blu ray as well.  planning on watching it with a friend who hasn't seen it yet when he comes out to visit next weekend.
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« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2012, 07:26:53 PM »

Quote from: farley2k on July 20, 2012, 06:26:39 PM

Quote from: Zarkon on July 20, 2012, 06:23:27 PM

To me, it's as bad an adaptation as Starship Troopers was.

You take that back!  Starship Troopers was cool!

I liked Starship Troopers also, but it may have helped that I hadn't read the book beforehand so I didn't nitpick the changes.  Haven't seen JCoM yet, but chances are I'll see it before I read the book.
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« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2012, 08:02:45 PM »

Quote from: CeeKay on July 20, 2012, 07:26:53 PM

Quote from: farley2k on July 20, 2012, 06:26:39 PM

Quote from: Zarkon on July 20, 2012, 06:23:27 PM

To me, it's as bad an adaptation as Starship Troopers was.

You take that back!  Starship Troopers was cool!

I liked Starship Troopers also, but it may have helped that I hadn't read the book beforehand so I didn't nitpick the changes.  Haven't seen JCoM yet, but chances are I'll see it before I read the book.

Starship Troopers is a fantastic piece of satire and a good film.  If we're talking about it as an adaptation of the book, though, it doesn't really succeed.
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« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2012, 08:34:15 PM »

Oh god yeah...the only thing Starship Troopers shares with Heinlein's classic is the name and a few nouns.
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« Reply #26 on: July 20, 2012, 11:40:11 PM »

That's my point.  Both John Carter /and/ Starship Troopers would have been fine if they weren't based on the books. 

Anyway, to those who like it, that's fine.  I almost couldn't finish the movie, and the only reason I still have the BD is laziness.
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« Reply #27 on: July 23, 2012, 03:23:47 PM »

Quote from: Zarkon on July 20, 2012, 11:40:11 PM

That's my point.  Both John Carter /and/ Starship Troopers would have been fine if they weren't based on the books.  

But John Carter DID cover the basic premise of the books...as well as a few other important parts (the Tharks, Dejah, etc.).  The problems include poor marketing and a weak main story.  If it hadn't been called John Carter it STILL would've suffered from those problems.  I still think that the sincerity of the director's love for the source material showed through and that ultimately saved the film for me. 
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 03:25:53 PM by hepcat » Logged

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« Reply #28 on: December 02, 2012, 02:19:01 AM »

Well, I finally watched this.

There were problems with not setting the film apart from other movies, for sure.

However, to me, without question the biggest issue for this film is Taylor Kitsch.  CGI characters were outperforming him.  Hell, the dog was better.
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