Welcome to the first installment in our revamped “Retro Reviews” column, where we explore both the movies you know and love, as well as the oft overlooked gems you should be spending more time with. To kick off this nerdy canonical carousal, we bring you the ultimate rock & roll fever dream, Walter Hill’s Streets ofFire (1984)…
“Another Time. Another Place…”
This is the title card that opens Streets of Fire, Walter Hill’s absolutely bonkers “Rock & Roll Fable”. Blending the aesthetics of ’50s greaser gang films with the neon lit synths of ’80s arena rock, Hill creates a world that feels like a mirrored alternate dimension of our own. Streets of Fire is a teenager’s fever dream after taking acid and listening to too much Meat Loaf; our burly hero (Michael Paré) seeking his estranged, hair-tossing goddess of a lady love (Diane Lane), only to have her snatched away by a leathery lizard in patent leather overalls (Willem Dafoe) for the sole enjoyment of his nightmarish rulers of the city. Reality completely takes a backseat to aura-building, as Hill yet again confirms that pragmatism in filmmaking is truly overrated.
I’ve spent the last several weeks following and writing about the negative buzz surrounding John Carterwith a kind of fascinated dismay. The things that make or break a film – especially when they seem to have very little to do with what’s actually on the screen – fascinate me, but because it was this film that seemed to be breaking before it was even released, I found myself once again overwhelmed with cynical passive-aggression toward Hollywood. See, I believe in Andrew Stanton, the genius who brought us Finding Nemo and Wall-E and who has been an integral part of Pixar since it began. I believe in Michael Chabon, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay who champions genre fiction and bashes critical pretensions from inside the literary establishment. I believe in Edgar Rice Burroughs and his timeless, now 100-year-old story of a man who landed on a red world called Barsoom. I believe in all of that, and so I wanted to be vindicated. I tried for weeks to give John Carter the exposure I felt it deserved. I wanted to prove to everyone that the pundits were wrong, that it was worth seeing despite the convoluted and often obnoxiously bland marketing machine. And so I went to see John Carter hoping to be vindicated and worried that I would be both disappointed and embarrassed. What if it wasn’t good? What if it was terrible? Would I leave the theater still believing in John Carter?
I’ve watched every piece of John Carter footage with a healthy amount of skepticism. I haven’t seen much evidence of a gripping, action adventure story that will hold my interest, even though most of the visual effects look spectacular. Let’s just say no trailer or sneak peak has really wowed me. So of course I’m pleasantly surprised to hear early reviews are giving the movie some positive buzz. I want the movie to be good, I’m just not convinced it will be.
One of the first reviews comes from The John Carter Files. Theirs is a really in depth review so here’s a quick sample,
Movie was really excellent and well worth watching. The audience reacted positively to the entire thing. All around me were pleasantly surprised, as most, like me, hadn’t even heard of the film. Many people took a long time to fill out their surveys and felt a responsibility to accurately convey their opinions. I felt the audience was emotionally engaged. we were rooting for JC all the way. We wanted him to marry the princess. we wanted her to love him. I would definitely recommend it.
Okay, so it’s not the most elegant review but they obviously enjoyed themselves. Which is all one’s really looking for in this kind of flick, right?
Next comes from Ayelet Waldman, though I would like to point out she’s married to one of the screenwriters so her opinion might be biased. These are just a few quotes from Twitter, where she was raving about the film after a screening at Pixar,
Just saw John Carter. It was AWESOME. Seriously. Best action movie I’ve seen … maybe ever? Lush and gorgeous. Great love story. FAB!!!! The thing about #johncarter is that the female lead is smart, & kicks ASS. It’s so female friendly!
Okay, female friendly. Obviously I like how that sounds, but being the jaded, science fiction fan I am, I really hope this female lead doesn’t come off as a token. But still, I want to try and think positively. Maybe if the film had been called Princess of Mars, which is the title of Edgar Rice Burroughs first book in the series, but anyway, I digress. I’m glad to hear the princess kicks ass.
This last bit of positive early buzz is from Ain’t It Cool News‘ Nick Soapdish. He hasn’t seen the whole film but he was given the chance to see quite a few scenes, and you can read his descriptions of each at their site. Here’s his overall opinion,
So all in all, the Film looks great. Much better then I was expecting. I have two reservations. The first is Disney’s track record with live action films of late, especially Sci-fi. Admittedly, John Carter is just as much a Fantasy film as it is Sci-Fi. But I am worried it will end up like Tron Legacy. A great film that doesn’t do as well at the box office as it deserves. The fact there has been no merchandise and poor promotion thus far means I am worried it to will not do so well.
The second is the claims of copying other films. The book is about 100 years old and nearly every sci-fi film has drawn inspiration from (or stolen) themes and ideas from these stories and like I mentioned in my review of the last clip that when people see that scene they will think Star Wars. I hope that audiences are able to realise that John Carter was the original, and is not trying to copy other famous sci-fi films.
John Carter, under the Direction of Pixar’s Andrew Stanton, could be a big Disney franchise, something that it could really do with. The planned John Carter to be a trilogy and the success of this first film will determine the future of the series. I hope it finds its audience and I for one will definitely be there opening weekend to see the final film.
Are you excited for John Carter? Was it something you saw or read recently that got you interested?
Lots of trailers starting to roll out for upcoming movies, expect the flow to increase as the Summer blockbusters start vying for your attention. Here are the updates for John Carter, Wrath of the Titans, and Chronicle.
John Carter cast includesTaylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, and Willem Dafoe.
Here’s the Synopsis:
From Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes “John Carter”–a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). “John Carter” is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.
Wrath of the Titans, directed by Jonathan Liebesman (Battle LA) and stars Sam Worthington, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Danny Huston, Edgar Ramiez, Bill Nighy, Toby Kebbell, and Rosamund Pike.
Here’s the full synopsis:
A decade after his heroic defeat of the monstrous Kraken, Perseus (Worthington) –the demigod son of Zeus (Neeson)–is attempting to live a quieter life as a village fisherman and the sole parent to his 10-year old son, Helius. Meanwhile, a struggle for supremacy rages between the gods and the Titans. Dangerously weakened by humanity’s lack of devotion, the gods are losing control of the imprisoned Titans and their ferocious leader, Kronos, father of the long-ruling brothers Zeus, Hades (Fiennes) and Poseidon (Danny Huston). The triumvirate had overthrown their powerful father long ago, leaving him to rot in the gloomy abyss of Tartarus, a dungeon that lies deep within the cavernous underworld. Perseus cannot ignore his true calling when Hades, along with Zeus’ godly son, Ares (Edgar Ramirez), switch loyalties and make a deal with Kronos to capture Zeus. The Titans’ strength grows stronger as Zeus’ remaining godly powers are siphoned, and hell is unleashed on earth. Enlisting the help of the warrior Queen Andromeda (Rosamund Pike), Poseidon’s demigod son, Argenor (Toby Kebbell), and fallen god Hephaestus (Bill Nighy), Perseus bravely embarks on a treacherous quest into the underworld to rescue Zeus, overthrow the Titans and save mankind.
Opening in theaters on February 3rd, the movie stars Dane DeHaan, Michael B. Jordan, Alex Russell and Michael Kelly. In Chronicle, three high school students make an incredible discovery, leading to them developing uncanny powers beyond their understanding. As they learn to control their abilities, and use them to their advantage, their lives start to spin out of control, and their darker sides begin to take over.
I’m not thrilled about Andrew Stanton‘s 3D mega-budget fantasy John Carter. When I think of John Carter, I think of Frank Frazetta paintings, fuzzy dramatic oil illustrations depicting muscular warriors and scantily-clad woman often locked in combat with deadly beasts. The dark Sword & Sorcery tone/style is lost in this Disney-fied adaptation. In fact, every photo and snippet of footage I see gives me Attack of the Clones flashbacks *shivers*. I’m sure it will be fun and filled with adventure, but it bares little resemblance to the world created by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Anyway, two new TV spots have hit featuring some new battle/actions scenes. Maybe you’ll dig it? If you’re like me, however, you’ll be saying “That’s not moody and dirty at all. It’s so fucking Disney! Fuck this shit!”. Woola -dog-like creature- is pretty cute though….
This NerdBastard was on the fence about spending any money to see this movie in theaters. My biggest fear was that this would be a He-Man / Carebears look at the pulp fiction masterpiece that is John Carter Warlord of Mars. In it’s day the series was edgy, bloody, and just great fun.
After watching the trailer my fears are somewhat allayed. The effects looks good and the scope seems big enough. The battle scenes made me think of the wonderful battles of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Take a look and let us know what you think, will this get you into that movie theater seat?
Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) stars with Willem Dafoe(Scare the crap out of you movie star), Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), and Lynn Collins(Wolverine). John Carter hits theaters on March 9th 2012.
Get ready to be drowned in red with the poster release of Walt Disney Pictures alien adventure John Carter, opening March 9th 2012. The Andrew Stanton directed film newly released poster gives movie goers and cynics of the Disney franchise something interesting to mull over. This live-action adaptation Edgar Rice Burrough‘s classic novel is definitely gonna make you give Disney a double take. If you want to check out more on the film watch the trailer on iTunes.
Click the jump for a look at the full sized poster. (more…)
To help generate hype, Walt Disney Pictures is purposely leaking images from it’s production of John Carter, the live action film based on Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ 11-volume Barsoom series. Their terrified this is gonna be their Waterworld, so they think a few nifty shots will spark interest. Well, I think they’re doing it right. 6 new images have been released – featuring John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch), a new creature called Woola, and the first look at Willem Dafoe‘s motion captured character Tars Tarkas. CGI looks a bit shifty, but I’m intrigued.