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John Carter Book Series

March 9, 2012 by staff 

John Carter Book Series, Frank Connor/DisneyTaylor Kitsch as John Carter. For true sci-fi fans, it’s the first Martian chronicle — and a long-delayed movie dream.  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter series began as a magazine serial a hundred years ago. It came back strongly in the ’70s in new hardcover editions with classic Frank Frazetta-illustrated jackets.

But a big-budget movie version always remained as close — and far away — as that angry red planet in the sky.

Until now. After a lot of movies that almost got made, and one that probably shouldn’t have been — a direct-to-DVD “Princess of Mars” with Traci Lords — Disney has finally given us “John Carter.”

And for once, avid fanboys who know everything about the series and curious newbies who know nothing will probably be united in their response: Mixed.

Yes, director Andrew Stanton has been relatively faithful to the source material, keeping Carter as a 19th-century adventurer whose astral spirit travels to the ancient, dusty planet.

And yes, there are still different-colored Martians and six-limbed creatures and monstrous predators (although we’re only told about the infamously vicious banth).

That’s all great — particularly the Martian flying machines that soar on wings of glass.

But when the script fiddles with Burroughs’ ideas, particularly in its strange, nearly motiveless arch-villains, it slows down. And when the movie relies on Stanton completely, it grinds to halt.

As one of Pixar’s stars — he directed “Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E” — Stanton is both a filmmaker with a visual style and someone whom the Disney studio wanted to keep happy, even to the extent of funding this extremely expensive 3-D epic.

But his skills as a computer animator don’t transfer easily to live-action filmmaking.

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