After sitting through Cars 2, many animation fans waxed worriedly on the current state of Pixar. Though whether or not the shining city on the hill of creativity has begun stooping to base cash-grabbing and/or laziness, or is losing their “touch,” shouldn’t be nearly as worrisome as the fact that we won’t be getting a new Pixar film from the company’s two heaviest hitters – Brad Bird and Andrew Stanton – for quite some time. Both men have (hopefully only temporarily) tossed aside the figurative pen’n’paper for the forbidden fruit of live-action. We recently got a peek at Bird’s effort, Mission Impossible IV, and now Disney has loosed the first trailer for Stanton’s film, John Carter.
For those who haven’t been following the film, the character of John Carter was once an extremely popular pulp literature hero. Created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who also created Tarzan) in the 1910s, Carter inspired an entire subgenre of futuristic space adventurers who heralded from Earth’s present/recent past, namely Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon. The current film is an adaptation of Burroughs’ first Carter story, A Princess of Mars — adaptation performed by Stanton along with fellow Pixar alum Mark Andrews, and some further help from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon. Quoth the press release: “The film tells the story of war-weary [Civil War weary, that is], 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.” Barsoom is what the Martian inhabitants call their planet. Burroughs in a character in the film, played by Spy Kids‘ Daryl Sabara, which is somewhat in keeping with the device Burroughs used in the novel — that the story was purportedly true and passed along to him by another.
The new trailer is rather humorless, and seems to be aiming for Avatar-esque dramatic grandiosity, but given that this is coming from Stanton I imagine the film will actually have a more fun-loving tone (or maybe he’s trying on some different shoes here). While it remains to be seen how Stanton handles live-action, we already know the man can spin a yarn. As could Burroughs. As can Chabon. So if nothing else I would hope we can expect a killer script to go along with all the fantastical visual FX. The film stars Friday Night Lights‘s Taylor Kitsch (let’s all just kindly forget Wolverine; certainly not his fault), as well as Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Haden Church and Willem Dafoe