John Carter

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Mars has been the source of fascination for writers of science fiction for more than a century. Even today, after decades of knowledge about the Martian landscape, which has included orbiting probes and rovers that have landed to collect samples. However, before humans even came close to red planet, writers have set their sights on our closest planetary neighbor. Ray Bradbury wrote The Martian Chronicles stories in the 1940s, but thirty years before that, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the John Carter of Mars series. It took a hundred years to make that book series into a big-budget feature film, but Disney achieved that last year when Pixar director Andrew Stanton helmed what might be the biggest financial disappointment for the Mouse House (at least until Gore Verbinski gave us The Lone Ranger this past summer). Still, many have heralded John Carter for its scope and vision, including staying as true to the original source material as possible in today’s world of blockbuster cinema. Some have said that John Carter was the first action hero and possibly the first superhero. After all, he certainly acted like one, leaping across the Martian desert. These feats of leg strength began when he first arrives on Mars, learning to walk on a new planet. Once he gets his Mars legs, John Carter is able to jump like the athletic love child of Superman and Michael Jordan. It starts with long bounds, but soon he is able to vertically leap over people, Martians, and even […]

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12year_disappointments

If there’s one word I think of that’s best tied to the story of film in 2012, it’s “disappointing.” That’s not to say that 2012 was a disappointing year for movies. I don’t know if it was the best in a while, as some of my fellow critics claim, but then I still haven’t seen a lot of the “best” titles of the year. What I do know is that there were enough movies that really, really, really disappointed a lot of people, and so I feel like I heard — or read — the word “disappointing” more than any other. Whether it was a long-awaited prequel to a classic helmed by the original’s director or the expected return to form for a filmmaker or a final installment of a much-worshipped superhero trilogy or a reboot of a beloved comic-based franchise or a new animated feature from a usually dependable studio, there were plenty of major releases that turned out to be less than satisfying. At least for some.

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sorel_pi

When contemplating my favorite films of the year, I keep forgetting about Life of Pi. Yet very few narrative features wowed me as much as Ang Lee’s spectacular adaptation. Given how much I enjoyed it in the theater, the film should have stuck with me more than it has. I blame the ending, which traded the magnificent visuals and wondrous sea adventure for a talky bookend that too directly spelled out the point of the story within the story. I don’t know that I’d say the ending ruined the rest of the film for me. I could go back and re-watch the whole thing and still appreciate all the effects and thrills and drama that excited me the first time around. But if that’s the stuff I want to remember first and foremost, I’ll probably have to leave a few minutes early next time. Lee surely is familiar enough with the craft of storytelling to know that endings are extremely important, that they can make or break an audience’s satisfaction with a movie by being the part that it is left with. He would presumably disagree with me that Life of Pi has a weak ending. And at least the staff of Entertainment Weekly believes the film actually has one of the best endings of the year. And that is fine, because a lot of people hated the endings of Prometheus, The Bourne Legacy and Savages, and I think those movies have three of the best endings of 2012. The […]

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As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

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Finding Nemo 2

Before there was the massive bust-a-roonie that was John Carter, Andrew Stanton was one of Pixar’s most essential and beloved filmmakers – he not only helped write and conceive of Toy Story and Toy Story 2, he also penned A Bug’s Life, Monsters, Inc., WALL-E, and Finding Nemo (all of which he directed or co-directed, save for Monsters, Inc.). However, despite his stand-out animation resume, Stanton (like so many other before him) itched to jump into live-action, which is how he ended up with John Carter, and well, we all know how that turned out. After this year’s live-action flop, some mused if Stanton would be put into “director jail,” barred from ever making anything of substance or note again. Yet, one massive misstep does not always spell disaster for filmmakers and, fortunately for Stanton, he still has that completely awe-inspiring resume to back up his work – particularly when it comes to animation. And, if Deadline Sydney is to be believed, Stanton is returning to his roots in more ways than one. The writer and director is now reportedly set to direct a Finding Nemo sequel for Disney and Pixar, and while that’s nice and everything, why the heck does Finding Nemo need a sequel, even with Stanton at the helm?

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The troubled production history of Gore Verbinski’s upcoming Johnny Depp- and Armie Hammer-starring The Lone Ranger is far too lengthy to fully recap yet again. Suffice to say, Verbinski wants to spend way too much money on the film, he and Disney have gone back and forth on a budget numerous times, and the whole project has almost been killed already due to the disagreements. But eventually concessions were made (including the cutting of an expensive sequence involving a train), and eventually the two sides were able to come to an agreement on a budget of $215m. Back in February we finally got word that production on the film had actually started. It looked like things had finally fallen in place for Disney’s latest crack at making a successful live action feature film, and everything was going to be okay. But that was in February. Now there are reports coming from THR that claim the film is behind schedule and once again over budget. How behind schedule is the movie? Somewhere between days and weeks. And how much have they gone over budget? Reports say that expenses may have swelled to $250m, which was the figure that Disney balked at originally.

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This Week in DVD

Welcome back to This Week In DVD! Has anyone seen our brother column, This Week In Blu-ray? I’m worried it may have been abducted and diddled against its will… As always, if you see something you like, click on the image to buy it. Curb Your Enthusiasm: The Complete Eighth Season Larry David’s divorce from Cheryl is finalized, and he finds himself heading for New York City after a characteristically disastrous social interaction. Typical Larry. Some viewers are unable to find the humor in David’s character and shenanigans and instead see nothing but frustration… and that’s an understandable reaction. He speaks his mind at all times, and while I don’t always agree with him I do find his complete lack of social skills refreshing and often hilarious. Plus, Michael J Fox and those damn girl scouts had it coming anyway.

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Tron Uprising

What is Movie News After Dark? It doesn’t matter. Just go with it… We begin tonight with a very cool bit of concept art from Tron: Uprising, the new animated show that has spun off from the Tron: Legacy film and the rebirth of the Tron franchise in general. This feels like a much better idea than a sequel to Legacy, as this universe has always seemed built for animation anyway. To add to the buzz around the show, Gamma Squad has Six Reasons Why You Should Watch Tron: Uprising.

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John Carter is Visually Spectacular

As far as we know on Reject Mars, Andrew Stanton‘s John Carter is “full of action,” and that’s exactly how we like it. The Disney epic from Edgar Rice Burroughs‘s classic Barsoom series was so many years in development that, for awhile there, it felt like it would never get made. But get made it did! And, in the case of a film like John Carter, one that relies so much on world-building, alien creatures, and massive battles to tell its story, it’s perhaps best that the film was crafted in a time rife with the kind of cinematic technology that could bring Barsoom to life. Next month, Disney will release John Carter on home video, and they’re cramming the release full of all sorts of goodies that center on the making of the film, including a bonus scene that focuses on the work that went into one of the film’s most impressive scenes. In our exclusive first look clip below, a very excited Mark Andrews (who penned the screenplay with Andrew Stanton and also served as 2nd Unit Director on the film) explains to us how one of John Carter‘s biggest and flashiest stunts was accomplished, using green screens, skill, and some good old-fashioned ingenuity. Check it out after the break!

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The Reject Report - Large

The 1990s are so 13 years ago. At least, that was the attitude this weekend when two films with roots in the last decade of the 20th Century came, saw, and had their proverbial butts kicked by something that is very much 2010 and beyond. The Hunger Games made this third weekend in release its bitch, pulling out another $33.1m and breaking past the coveted $300m mark, tying with Revenge of the Sith as the sixth fastest film to do so. The Lionsgate film was also able in its third week of release to surpass every film in the Twilight franchise, but comparisons between the two were dead, buried, resurrected, and staked in the heart about two-and-a-half weeks ago. With an additional $157.1m in foreign markets – Australia and the UK rank highest with $16.7m and $15.7m, respectively – The Hunger Games if officially a worldwide, cinematic phenom, nearing the half billion mark. The “is he or isn’t he” game Gary Ross and Lionsgate seem to be playing for the sequel, Catching Fire, isn’t stopping audiences from packing theaters, and why should it. Uwe Boll could helm the follow-up, and it’d still bring in record-breaking coin. That’s getting way ahead of ourselves, though, so let’s back-track to the film that’s currently killing everything else in release. Literally killing them. Okay, not literally.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly collection of links and thinks from around the world of movie and television news and reviews. It spends its weekends racking its brain trying to cull together the strength to go forth with its usual Monday entry, knowing full well that it can’t spend all of its page space on Mad Men and Game of Thrones. This is a movie website, after all. We begin this evening with a shot from Rush, the racing movie about Formula 1 driver James Hunt starring Chris Hemsworth and Olivia Wilde. Director Ron Howard and his leading lady have been tweeting them like crazy. Including pics of Hemsworth and Wilde getting married as Hunt and his wife, model Suzy Miller. I chose the one above to highlight because it’s badass. 

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The Reject Report - Large

Happy Easter, everybody. It’s the time of year for giving, for hollow, chocolate bunnies, and for Stifler to make some crude remark just before ingesting something disgusting. That’s right, it’s time for a reunion with the American Pie crew, and, like it or not, the movie is going to come out on top. It doesn’t matter that Katniss and her Hunger Games are still shooting strong. Never mind that the 2nd biggest movie of all time is getting a 3D update. All that’s moot when it comes to the financial strength behind dick jokes and bare breasts. So grab a chair, and heat up that warm, apple cobbler, check out this week’s Reject Report, and never let go. Not like Rose, though. She totally let go.

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Take all the box office records out there, the biggest openings and fastest to whatever astronomical dollar amount is considered a hit these days, put them up on a wall, and throw a dart. Chances are good whichever you one you hit, The Hunger Games either ranked exceedingly high on it or it took the #1 spot with a fury. The record shifting began early with the film, the first of many if Lionsgate has anything to do with it, boasting the 15th widest opening in history. Then, with $19.7m, The Hunger Games set the record for midnight sales for a non-sequel. We’re getting into some qualifiers here, but non-sequels being hits are a rare breed these days.

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Merch Hunter - Large

With news coming through that John Carter has surprised absolutely nobody by losing Disney a bucket-load of cash, despite hitting the top of the box office in my own dear country and hanging around the top three of the U.S. box office, the fact that the Mouse House have apparently chosen not to try and take fill advantage of the merchandise buck looks all the more baffling. This is just one more step in a disastrous extra-release marketing campaign that saw one of the poorest cinematic trailers I have ever seen, underwhelming posters, and a generally underwhelming, unprestigious release for a film which actually deserved an awful lot more. Merchandising dollars can mean a massive financial return that can often sweeten a box office failure, as well as setting up better home release sales on the back of the brand reinforcement that toys, clothes and the usual assorted accouterments can bring. So why exactly isn’t my local Disney Store awash with John Carter branded products? And why is the online Disney Store stocking mouse mats, hoodies, mugs and smart phone covers as the primary lines for the merchandise campaign?

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The Reject Report - Large

A lone film hits on a multitude of screens this weekend. The playing field is all for its amusement, and this one film appears to be holding every card in the deck. It’s not a matter of if The Hungers Games will be a success. The real question is how many records will it be breaking this weekend. The incredibly popular book series finally makes its cinematic debut, and, like the Twilight series before it, The Hunger Games is sure to take its core audience by storm. It’ll be sure to bring in audiences who aren’t familiar with the book series, as well, ensuring its place in box office history, or, at the very least, offer a strong enough debut to warrant the inevitable sequel. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? The franchise. Let’s take a look at how this lone wolf stacks up against all these familiar cubs.

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What is Movie News After Dark? It’s the mysterious tribute from District 12. A coal minor’s daughter who learned to hunt in the woods outside the fence. A girl on fire. Survivalist. Star-crossed lover. Oh wait, that’s not right. It’s a nightly column dedicated to bringing you the best in stuff about movies, TV and happenings across Panem. Or something like that. We begin this evening with a shot of Snake Eyes from G.I. Joe: Retaliation. He’s got a rebooted mask for this sequel, which reboots the G.I. Joe series in a way by taking out most of the previous film’s characters and bringing in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson instead. Good move.

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Mitt Romney currently leads the Republican Presidential nominee field in two distinct ways. The first is in spending, where he’s made it rain $100m so far in order to not clinch the nomination. The second is in delegates, which is it where it counts. Still, he’s facing the possibility of not getting enough delegates before the National Convention in late August which means there’s a chance (albeit a slim one) he won’t be the eventual nominee. He’s also facing difficult internal numbers and that general feeling of, you know, meh-ness from potential supporters. So, he’s John Carter. The correlations are clear: both are inevitable successes by a traditional standpoint, both are flawed in ways that injure their ability to connect with an audience, they’re both in danger of failing, and they both spent a ton of money to get to where they are. There’s a lesson in all of this and hopefully the major studios are paying close attention.

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Boiling Point

John Carter lightly transported itself into theaters this past weekend, securing a relatively meager $30m opening domestically, though it managed to secure another $70m internationally. While I will eventually make a defense of the economics at play here, it is hard to argue that John Carter isn’t a domestic failure, considering it came in second to The Lorax, which debuted a full week earlier. On top of that, John Carter has a suspected $250m budget with marketing costs guestimated in the $100m range, for a total investment of around $350m. The critics have been somewhat kind to the civil war veteran’s debut – while the average review seems to be “it’s alright,” there have certainly been some hyperbolic highs and very few hyperbolic lows. Consensus is you’ll probably think the movie is okay, but you might want to wait for DVD. Scattered among those are bold claims that film will live on with your children as a classic, which are probably a bit off the reservation. There is little doubt that in at least several ways John Carter failed, ways that were easily avoidable and ways that make me fairly angry with the system.

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Kevin Carr

This week, Fat Guy Kevin Carr heads to the desert to hide in a cave, hoping against hope that some mystical bald alien will beam him to Mars so he can make a pass at the ridiculously gorgeous Lynn Collins in a brass bikini. Unfortunately, no one came to his rescue, so he snuck into an abandoned house in upstate New York to terrorize some people. Again, no one came. That left Kevin to skip his movies this week so he could go to the library and find a book that would allow him to curse Eddie Murphy into not speaking. He hasn’t been heard from since.

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John Carter

This weekend presents you with the opportunity to do many things. If you’re in the Central Texas area, you’re probably hitting up SXSW 2012 alongside the intrepid staff at Film School Rejects and many other fine publications. But if you’re note falling down drunk on the streets of Austin, trying to punch-kick everyone following a screening of The Raid, you may want to escape to another wild wonderland: Mars. Beginning today, Disney is releasing John Carter into theaters. Based on the century-old book “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Carter follows a Civil War veteran who is transported magically to Earth’s red neighbor, where unknowable danger, a classic hero journey and the love of a gorgeous, tough princess await him. Also, he encounters 9-foot tall, four-armed green aliens who sound like Willem Dafoe, vengeful war mongers played by the likes of Dominic West and a CGI-enhanced landscape created by a team led by Pixar alum Andrew Stanton. All-in-all, it’s quite a ride. And to give you an idea of why you should just ignore the poor early buzz and simply enjoy the ride, we’ve compile a list of 7 Very Good Reasons to See John Carter This Weekend. Join us on this magical journey…

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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.16.2014
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published: 04.14.2014
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