Here's a trailer for Disney/Pixar's (yup) John Carter, a space epic based on Edgar Rice Burroughs's old-timey Barsoom pulp novel series. This is to be Taylor Kitsch's big star-maker, so will it work?
Well, it feels a bit cruel and sad to say "No" on this day of all days, when Friday Night Lights, which brought Kitsch into the edges of public consciousness, is set to go off the air forever, ending its run on NBC after five tragically neglected seasons. (It's already ended once, on Direct TV, but this is really it.) But "no" is just what I feel from watching this brief two minute reel.
The story is that a Civil War vet goes missing and it turns out he's been transported to Mars, a dying planet home to a dying civilization that Carter is, of course, tasked to save. So it's basically a more apocalyptic and earnest Total Recall, a more easily digested Dune, a Roman epic that just happens to take place on the Red Planet. Only how come then all I see when I watch this is Chronicles of Riddick? That is not the space opera to be aspiring to! And yet it does, with its cheesy costumes and clunky-seeming seriousness. It could turn out to be weird and cool, it is after all directed by Andrew Stanton, the guy who gave us Wall-E (and Finding Nemo and A Bug's Life), but I alas do not find this footage terribly encouraging.
Oh, but Kitsch, yes. He'll play the stoic hero ably, I imagine. And obviously to behold his chiseled visage is to experience the joy of Christmas and your birthday simultaneously every few seconds. But I just hope that, if the movie is a space flop, it doesn't drag him down with it. Let him not be cast into that particular dustbin, alongside the Brandon Rouths and Barry Peppers of the world, not our beloved Tim Riggins. The rest of the cast is equally great — Willem Defoe, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton. Half the cast of Rome seems to be in it, as Ciarán Hinds, James Purefoy, and the criminally underused Polly Walker all make appearances. Carter's love interest is played by the curiously ageless and perpetually beguiling Lynn Collins, Thomas Haden Church apparently shows up at some point, as does The Wire's drunk genius Dominic West. And, as if that wasn't enough, they've gone and thrown Bryan Cranston in for good measure. Quite a lineup! Let's hope the movie does them, and their sad-eyed sex god leading man, justice.