A video message from Andrew Stanton, apologising for not being here while he’s working on post production, lead the Big Screen audience into two clips from John Carter, totalling something around five minutes.
The first showed us the initial meeting between John Carter (of Virginia) and Tars Tarkas. We started with Carter alone on the desert landscape, all dust and sharp rock outcrops. He started to climb up on a small stone structure, topped with a little patterned plateau. This, we see, is a window, and the structure is a room – and judging from the eggs we see inside, a hatching room of some kind. We see an egg open up and small baby Thark stretch out.
The baby Thark is cute, and I can see a few people getting a bit miffed at that but it’s worth remembering that baby humans are cute, not to mention baby dogs, cats, sealions, tigers, etc.
Shortly, a small battalion of riding Tharks come up from the distance, rifles in hand. They start to fire on Carter, until their leader tells them not to. He gets down and speaks to this strange, scruffy human.
This is the first meeting between the two lead males – one human, one not – in this story.
They try to tell each other their names, despite the interplanetary language barrier. As a result, Tars Tarkas is left thinking John Carter is called Virginia.
Carter is still scared and acting defensively, so when he gets a chance, he goes for Tars Tarkas’ discarded gun – using the reduced gravity of Barsoom to leap to it. The other Tharks are about to open fire, but Tars calls them off.
And cut to scene two.
The scene began with an extreme long shot establishing the location, a huge arena half carved out of the landscape. It looks rather unfinished, but it’s fit for purpose.
And that purpose is having John Carter, chained with some twenty or thirty feet of slack to a huge rock, fight against a “white ape”.
Like the Tharks, the white ape has six limbs. Unlike the Tharks, he’s big and bulky and beastly and could crush Carter easily. Thankfully, Carter can leap and he does have that long chain attached to the massive rock…
Overall, the footage seemed beautifully airy and light and natural. There were many similarities to Avatar, with full-CG aliens mixing with live action humans, and always pretty smoothly, in the same shots.
And it’s a similar sort of pulp, and is being taken seriously in a similar way. Here’s hoping that Stanton has the same facility with action as Cameron.
John Carter will be with us next March. Seems such a long way away…