Oh, god, please don’t suck

I am a huge fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs — well, pulp novels, in general — but Edgar Rice Burroughs is one of my favourites.

I will freely admit that Edgar Rice Burroughs did not write High Literature. His work is pulp fiction, and rather proud of it, but while some High Literature has lost its’ allure for me over time, I can pick up a Burroughs book and be just as enthralled today as I was the first time.

While Tarzan may be Burrough’s most popular hero, I’ve always been partial to John Carter of Mars. While the derring-do is a plus, it is the ruined palaces, dried sea-beds, the fliers, the magnificent city of Helium, all that and more that really hold a special place in my heart.

I am apparently not the only one — many of the scientists, engineers and others in the NASA space program could quote the Barsoom books; and Carl Sagan kept a map of Burroughs’ Mars on the wall of his office at Cornell.

Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Alan Dean Foster, and Arthur C. Clarke are all fans, as well as many more authors who have — some overtly, some not so much — referenced Barsoom in other works of fiction.

Now I learn that Disney (oh, god) is releasing a movie (probably very loosely) based on “A Princess of Mars”, said movie to be out this coming week.

Please, please, please, don’t let it suck.


*twitch, twitch*

40 thoughts on “Oh, god, please don’t suck”

  1. I agree with all of the above!! I really hope it's good…I've heard it's fun, but that's not the same as *good.* We'll see…

  2. It's already different: in all the previews, they're all wearing clothes.


  3. Preview ran during the warm-up for Act of Valor today. HH6 informs me that she'll be seeing it, with me or without.
    Although she was a lot more enthusiastic about Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Killer.

  4. I had the same thought. I decided after reading the first few books that I was going to name my eventual first son John Carter, but now I'm afraid people will think I named him after a terrible movie.

  5. Burroughs was a fantastic storyteller. A moderately dreadful writer, though. And that is good news as regards a movie. The Disney animated TARZAN worked pretty well, because it got the FEEL right. I think we can hope for the same from JOHN CARTER. I find it encouraging that the title isn't JOHN CARTER OF MARS because, according to an interview I saw, he isn't OF MARS until the end of the first film. Good reasoning, and it shows that somebody involved gives a damn about the source.

    And, hey, nobody, not even someone with a Peter Jackson-like vision was going to shoot the story in the nude.

  6. Ah, well… I can still cling to my happy boyhood memories of Carson of Venus.

  7. We went to see it Saturday. It is a good action movie, I suppose, but I would have liked it much better if they weren't trying to pass it off as a book I've read four or five times. My wife and the girls enjoyed it, but then they've never read anything by Burroughs (though my older daughter borrowed the first three Mars books from the library Sunday, and says they're very good).

    Go see it, but don't expect to experience ERB….

  8. I may have been at the same Master Jet Base theater as RM1. A Princess of Mars was the very first book I bought with my own money and I voraciously consumed them all shortly thereafter. The movie was good, the action was done well, the story line really needed a bit more background story but that would be tough to accomplish I think. My kids (17, 12, 9) LOVED it and my 9 yr old demanded I dig through my book boxes to find my copies. Overall a decent adaptation.

  9. Hah. I saw this and thought, "I need to get my husband to post a response since he knows the books", and I see he already has.

    Yes, the girls and I enjoyed it. I'll have to snag the books from older daughter after she finishes so I can see how far off the story line was and if they did capture the spirit of it.

  10. Considering that in the books the men wore weapons and things to hang them on and the women wore jewels with weapons hanging on them the movie can't be that true to the books. Unless, of course, the sleens are sufficiently vicious.

  11. I've not seen it, but the first trailers left me cold and I LOVE the John Carter series by ERB! *sigh* I will see it, but I really fear that it's going to be more "Pochantas of Mars" than anything close to ERB's JCM…

  12. Can't people just watch a movie as a movie instead of as "yet another failed attempt to match the awesomeness inside my head when I read the book?"

  13. The problem is that once you see the movie, you can never go back to what you saw in your head. You're stuck with what the director saw in HIS head.

    I usually don't see movies of books I like.

  14. David H and Anonymous 8:53 point up the problem with adapting books to movies and why they generally can't beat the theater of your own mind. Your brain is generally more imaginative than the director's, as he actually had a budget to work from, his expertise is not in pure imagination, there are some laws of physics that even the movies can't violate,
    and as anonymous said, once you see the image from the movie you generally can't go back to your own image from reading the book.

  15. Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.
    Is that like Abraham Lincoln's Doctor's dog? (in post-Twilight America, it probably is).

  16. an easy way to tell if a movie is good.
    the week after it comes out go to one of those "Third Party Distribution" sites and see what comes up when you search for the movie.
    If only one or 2 "hits" are the movie then IT SUCKS

  17. Even if the movie replaces the images of my boyhood, they were already influenced by the paintings of Frank Frazetta. His artwork not only captured the contents of the book,it became something beyond just the cover of a book. Few combinations have ever been so perfect as Burroughs/Frazetta

  18. It's modern disney. Which means it will be written by a bunch of metrosexual multicurlturalists infecting children with faith in hope instead of real values like work and actually believing that entitlement is another word for the formula for dictatorship.
    It will end up as a shallow feel good movie made for preteens, with all the obligatory cgi, and no true character development.

  19. David H: I'm not viewing it as "yet another failed attempt to match the awesomeness inside my head when I read the book?" – I'm viewing it as another failure to tell the same story as the book because the director and/or scriptwriters have to make so many changes to the story to show that they are just as imaginative and creative as the original author was. If they're going to make that many pointless changes, why not just write a whole new story, instead of claiming it's the original?

    (Review posted on my blog a few days ago, by the way….)

  20. Lawdog. It don't suck, if fact I liked it quite a bit. I can't say it's a great adaptation of the book but they do pull off the spirit of the original novel and characters. Good stuff.

  21. I've a sudden opening in my schedule so I'm off in a few minutes to see John Carter at the early show.

    I see that it's pretty difficult to find one that ISN'T 3-D. 3-D is a true pain if you wear glasses. I prefer the old, non-3D showings. I've not attended a number of movies because I couldn't find a non 3-D showing at the time when I wanted to go.

  22. Went to see it today.

    They could have stuffed it up a whole lot worse. After all, _Mission Earth_ and _Starship Troopers_ set a pretty low bar.

    The problem is, I think, that I (most of us? Perhaps. I, definitely) read ERB a long time ago. And the memory is so much better than the books actually are.

  23. wrm: The first time I read A Princess of Mars was around '63 or '64; the last time was Jan '07. I read it two or three times in between, too. I remember it quite well.

    I see no good reason whatsoever for most of the changes made to the story for this movie.

    Rampager: I saw it at the Groton submarine base.

  24. The ticket lady kept trying to sell us tickets to the later 3d version. We insisted that we really wanted the 1pm showing.

    "but it's not in 3d, you should come back at 4pm".

    "Yes, that's why we selected this time slot"

    "You thought this was 3d?"

    "No, we didn't want to pay $11 to get horrible headaches"

    Next time I'll just tell her I'm blind in one eye or something.

  25. Its not 100% ERB, at least not like I remember the stories from 30 plus years ago, but its a fun movie, and remember, it was PULP FICTION when it was written!

    I was impressed with the animation and the CG!

  26. The best thing about this movie is that it caused me to download the whole series into my Kindle for $0.99 and I am having a blast reading them. I read all the Tarzan books as a child, but I missed these somehow. What fun!

  27. It didn't suck. BTW, I bought the entire 25 book Tarzan Series for 2.50 for my Kindle. I think a lot of his other books are there as well.

  28. One of my disapointments with space exploration is it showing Mars to be like suburban Los Vegas, without the scorpions. No Castles, No fliers, no scantly clad princesses. I miss Barsoom.

  29. With you on the "hope it does not suck" though.
    Batman movies all sucked because they were never true to the comics, the producer/directors always had to find a deeper darker psychological story behind the story.

  30. haven't seen it, but one of my favorite comics was John carter Warlord of Mars. That, and the graphic Conan comics.

  31. Frank Frazetta's vision of Mars was probably the best of all. His original paintings that adorned the covers of ERB's books leapt from the cover and drew me inexorably to reading the entire series. If the movie is a fraction as vivid, it will not suck.

  32. In the news: Disney is expecting a 200 million dollar loss on John Carter, apparently not that many people have gone to see it in cinemas, in other words, it flopped.

  33. I thought it was well done science fiction. Special effects were excellent, the storyline was consistent and the acting was mostly good. Wish they hadn't chosen such a prettyboy to play Carter- I always pictured him grittier/rougher in my head. Biggest problem with it was me! Seems my 42 year old self can't get into the fantasticness of it all like my 14 year old self could. I remember when I discovered Pellucidar, it seemed more my home than Salt Lake City back then- no more tho. Guess that's the price for gettin' older. These days I support sci-fi when I can just to encourage studios not to forget the genre.

    Can't wait for the Hobbits!

  34. If you can partition off the section of your mind that contains the imagination required to read the original books, and look at it as a sci-fi entertainment movie, its not bad. It actually uses elements from two or three books (the Therns didn't appear until the….third? book), but for a Bollockswood production (further corrupted by Disney, who has yet to get ANY book adaptation right, although "Treasure Planet" came close), it isn't a bad entertainment movie.

    BTW, for those who have bought the books for their e-readers, pretty much everything of ERB's is now considered "public domain", and therefore LEGALLY free. Do a search on http://www.gutenberg.org. I downloaded the text version, converted them to PDF, and am reading through the Pellucidar series again on my wife's old Nook.

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