John Carter - A Space Odyssey Adventure from Disney Pictures

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JOHN CARTER, the Sci-Fi action adventure, from Walt Disney Studio Pictures, and Academy Award winning Director Andrew Stanton brings to the screen the ultimate intergalactic battle for planetary dominance

Produced by Lindsay Collins and Jim Morris, JOHN CARTER stars Willem Dafoe, Taylor Kitsch, Dominic West, Lynn Collins and Samantha Morton in the larger-than-life adaptation from  Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic “A Princess from Mars.”

JOHN CARTER opens at the end of the Civil War with Carter played by Taylor Kitsch (Friday Nights Lights) finding his way West in search of gold in the new territories and ends up mining a cave. Without explanation, the cave induces acts as a sleep chamber and when he awakens he has been transported to MARS.

Mars, or as it is called by the native people, BARSOOM produces a semi-weightless gravitational effect and manifests in JOHN CARTER of Earth/JASOOM the ability to move with gazelle swiftness and scale heights effortlessly a skill that initially has him stumbling through his landings and observed with keen interest by THARKS Tribal leader, Tars Takas/Willem Dafoe.

On this otherworldly quest TARS TAKAS, an indigenous Martian species with sharp curling protruding cheek horns, double arms, and a highly evolved sense of humor, is the leader of the THARKS Tribe, and the first person JOHN CARTER encounters. As the leader of a threatened people, Tars Takas and John Carter stumble through the language barrier, producing comedic results, each trying to convey their peaceful intentions and are sure the other will inflict harm, injury or death.

As it turns out, JOHN CARTER is taken prisoner against the advice of Tars Takas, and in order to ensure the species survives TARS TAKAS assists JOHN CARTER’s escape and sends his daughter, Sola (Samantha Morton) as his guide through the Barsoom region.

To his credit, Andrew Stanton’s interpretation of JOHN CARTER’s MARS as a viable sustainable planet suitable for life with weather, moons, rivers, natural resources, from all indications is as close to what NASA scientists believe Mars to have been.

The difficulty any filmmaker encounters when creating another world is creating a world the audience will find sympathetic. It isn’t so much that the created world must be shocking only that the audience must relate: they must invest emotionally. If a director can accomplish that process, which is no small feat, the next creation must be a people, at minimum a lead character or screen duo, the audience can equally invest itself in emotionally, the audience must “care for” the cause, the people, the world which is why films that create a whole new world and do it well are rare.

Stanton has created a screen couple with Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins, Dejah Thoris (Warrior Princess) that the audience can investment itself in emotionally.  She, indigenous to Mars, of a fully evolved linage, skilled as a warrior, intelligent and he, possessing unknown warrior skills and understands motivations and, still approaches societal boundaries based on his 1870’s mentality: archaic in comparison to the highly evolved BARSOOM people. The culture clash between the two, along with Tars Tarkas, who are all on a singular mission, creates comedic highlights, in an otherwise frustrating, as it is almost there, daring film that falls slightly short of expectation and is still enjoyable.

Having the opportunity to participate in the Press Junket the following are excerpt from both Roundtables with Andrew Stanton, Dominic West, Jim Morris and Lindsay Collins and Willem Dafoe who both director, producers and talent

Speaking with Andrew Stanton on the difficulties of creating a whole new world at the John Carter Press Conference held at The Boulders Resort in Carefree, AZ. The following are excerpts.

From The Roundtable with Director Andrew Stanton

Janet Walker: It sounds like you had a long history with the books and you were familiar with them.  Was the experience of making the film different from what you thought it would be and describe that a little?

Andrew Stanton: I got so caught up in just the herculean task of putting this onto the screen that, and it’s probably good this happen that I didn’t have time to think I was getting to fulfilling a boyhood wish list. (Laughter) A dream I never allowed myself to think I could do. It wasn’t until, honestly, recently until the music was done and really cause when the music comes together it really is the final bits of glue and the veneer and the missing link that makes it all feel like one that I could kind of be removed enough to step back and say ‘oh my gosh’ I’d had been wishing to see that moment for, you know, forty years well a little under forty and then get choked up about it. But I think if I had been like that during the whole thing I would’ve have been able to be,  it’s hard not to be objective when you’re making a movie and that would have only clouded things.

From the Interview with Willem Dafoe:

Janet Walker: Absolutely. Now to John Carter, describe your experience making the film. We talked this morning about how you were on stilts, with arm extensions, and all of that.

Willem Dafoe: That was great. It’s mostly about working on a big film that isn’t bloated that really something’s going on that is character driven, story driven, even the action sequences they don’t stand by themselves. Which usually, in these days, the technology has reached a point, it did actually quite some years ago for me, where you can make these fabulous action sequences and it be like wow, wow, wow but you feel nothing, you don’t engage, we’re so used to it. And what’s special about this is it’s not one of those movies. There were sequences that were too much like that and if they didn’t serve the story and didn’t develop the character he cut them. (Amazed laugh) He cut them!  You know, He’s very disciplined. He’s no dope this Andrew Stanton. (Laughing)

Janet Walker: Well let’s lead into that. Tell me about working with him.

Willem Dafoe: He’s really good; a nice fellow. Like any smart director he works slightly different with each person because he knows he has good instincts about what they need. I trusted him. I become like one of his guys to get what he needs because he’s very clear. And not only do you have to realize the scene but you have to get the information for the animators. He’s very clear about that he has to educate me on the process is and sometimes he has to take me in and tell me what has to be accomplished in the scene on top of my normal job as an actor. So I become sort of a collaborator with him, on a different level, which I’m used to but not used to in a big, big, movie like this.

John Carter opens March 9 in theaters everywhere. Check your local listings.

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