John Carter

As I have constantly stated on previous reviews, don’t listen to a critic, listen to reviewers because they tend to be freelance and without an ulterior motives whereas a person like me is (according to my parole officer) unemployable! But, I digress)

I went to see John Carter who reminded me of a Victorian version of a type of Superman (could this be why the writer Edgar Rice Burroughs chose this name because it could be shortened to JC and who else has these famous initials)?

This film fascinated me no end because the original book was written in 1912.

Here’s the plot...             

John was an ex army official who lives in Virginia USA and is broke but in his new job as a Gold prospector.  One day he finds a lot of Gold in a cave which will make John a very rich brother indeed.

 While in a bar he gets into a fight and the barman tries to through him out with the aid of men who are in the bar at that same time.

After kicking their collective butts, some men from the Army also come into the bar asking him to come along with them to fight a war against the Native Americans which John refuses.  They knock him out and lock him up where upon he constantly tries to escape, finally succeeding by taking the Captain’s horse.  A group of Soldiers alongside the Captain pursue him and they all come face to face with a group of The Natives.  John communicates with them in their native tongue and seems to making some headway until a trigger happy nervousUSsoldier opens fire.....

John escapes but is being pursued by the Captain who gets shot by the Apaches.  John stops, picks up the Captain and takes him to a cave which the Natives refuse to go near.

While in the cave a being in the form of a man appears and is about to strike a fatal blow to John but the Captain calls out which alerts John who then kills the alien assailant, but before he dies he reveals a glowing piece of silver metal which John removes from the Aliens hand and puts it into his own and almost immediately John is teleported/translated to Mars or as the natives call it Barsoom.  

On Mars John encounters both formidable alien creatures resembling the beasts of ancient folklore and various humanoids.  He is captured by the Barsoomian Tharks who have four arms and are 12 ft tall.

He meets a Martian princess, Dejah Thorjis (Lynn Collins) of the city Helium.

As an aside, Lynn Collins was the love interest to Wolverine in “X-Men Origins” film and Taylor Kitsch who plays John in this film played Gambit in the afore mentioned film.

There is also a race that is lead by a character called Matai Shang (Mark Strong) who look human but are more divine, no ethereal or malevolent.

Now that’s the start of the film but what inspired it? Let me tell you abit about the writer of this piece of work, Edgar Rice Borroughs.

There was a time when Edgar found work hard to come by and during this period of inactivity he started reading “Pulp fiction” mags (“what’s that you shout“)? Read on and I’ll explain....

Pulp Fiction refers to cheap magazines published from 1896 through the 1950s. The typical pulp magazine was seven inches wide by ten inches high, half an inch thick and 128 pages long.  Pulps were printed on cheap paper with ragged, untrimmed edges.

The name “Pulp” comes from the cheap wood pulp paper on which the magazines were printed.  Magazines printed on better paper were called "glossies" or "slicks".  (So now you know where Tarrentino got the name of his film from, but I digress)

If you think you need experience and training to be successful in this world then read the words of E.R.B recalling his own thoughts in 1911.

 “If people were paid for writing rot such as I have read in some of those magazines, and I could write stories just as rotten. As a matter of fact, although I have never written a story, I knew that I could write stories just as entertaining and probably a whole lot more so than any I chanced to read in those magazines”.

The next year he writes “The Princess of Mars” which was the original name of which the John Carter film is based on.

Disney released the film in 2012 to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the book. Cost of the film? (Wait for it) a cool $250m, (What recession).

“Yeah but what else did he write?”  Well now this cat has got the writing bug and wrote his first Tarzan novel in 1912 and when he dies in 1950 of a heart attack, he has nearly 70 to his name! Be honest and admit, “This brother is prolific!!!”

What about the director?

His name is Andrew Stanton and he’s done two other films that you would probably have heard of, namely “Wall-E” and “Finding Nemo”.

.The film was originally titled John Carter of Mars, butStantonremoved "of Mars" in the hope of making the film more appealing to a broader audience, stating that the film is an "original story.  It's about a guy becoming John Carter of Mars.

The book version of Carter had short cropped hair but the film version looks “Tarzanesque” (I believe this was deliberate to get the watcher of the film to be subliminally drawn to the character).

On the whole I thought this was a thoroughly enjoyable film which showcases Victorian era writing still stands the test of time...

P.s. what are the odds that Holy-Wood would adapt the works of two Victorian era writers and release them for a modern audience in the same week? 

Read my “The Raven” review next and see...

Edgar Allan Poe

When I first realised that these two great stories “The Raven” and “John Carter” from the 19th century were being given a 21st Century makeover, I thought surely it’s the same author? Why did I think this? Well, there are so many similarities between the two stories. 

In my researching I thought that there would be a link between Edgar Allan Poe (who was born and died before the similarly Christian/double barreled named Edgar Rice Burroughs but apparently there isn’t.       

EAP was an innovator and is accredited as being the inventor of the Horror writing and Detective genre.  Not bad for a drunk eh...         

He was not as prolific as Edgar Rice Burroughs who began writing over 60yrs after EAP’s death because in my opinion, pioneers are ground breakers and one of the grounds EAP broke was the possibility of a writer being full time and making a living (tell me about it but, I digress!).         

He married his 13 year old cousin (please do not ask me to comment because we both know that one is not required suffice to say “YUK!!!”).        

His last days left behind a puzzle that hasn’t been explained.  He was found on a park bench wearing clothing that didn’t belong to him and was in an incoherent state, repeating the name “Reynolds” the day before he died, without a penny to his name.

When he died a tradition was brought into play where someone (or a succession of people) anonymously left 3 Roses andCognacon his tombstone.  This tradition was maintained for at least 6 decades.  Talking about death, I have left strict instructions with the council in the event of my demise to arrange for my carcass to be (force fed preferably to the pigs) who worked out that I owed CSA money for my daughter’s welfare during a time when I was working in the voluntary sector, money I hasten to add she has never received (but, I digress).             

He had critics who said his work was about receiving “acceptance” from the masses, because of this allegation that was widely known at the time he earned the nickname “Jingle man” (think of those cheesy jingles you hear on the radio or TV then you’ll have an idea what they were saying.

His chief critic in life and death was Rufus Wilmot Griswold, who wrote scathingly about EAP even writing a book on him which was full of inaccuracies leading to the legend that EAP dabbled in the black arts.          

No such negative allegation could be aimed at his most famous work and the name of this film review...   


The Raven

Have you noticed that back in the day when a film was released, it had a US showing first then it came to the 51st State next, well The Raven was released here first and America the next month.  Why? Maybe the distributors think we Brits have more respect for EDP work or develop a marketing strategy based on the reactions of an island that though it is roughly the geographical size of one of their states but more densely populated.         

The film starts with EAP being found on a park bench days before he dies. This bit is autobiographical but the rest of the film is fantasy.

Here’s a brief synopsis of The Raven below...

Edgar Allan Poe (John Cusack) joins forces with a young Baltimore (USA) detective Emmett Fields (Luke Evans) to hunt down a mad serial killer who's using Poe's own works as the basis in a string of brutal murders.

When a mother and daughter are found brutally murdered in 19th century Baltimore, Detective Fields makes a startling discovery, the crime resembles a fictional murder described in graphic detail in an earlier edition of the local newspaper and the horrific story is part of a collection of stories penned by struggling writer and social pariah Edgar Allan Poe, but even as Poe is questioned by police, another grisly murder occurs, also inspired by a popular Poe story. Realising a serial killer is on the loose using Poe's writings as the backdrop for his grisly rampage; Fields enlists the author's help in stopping the attacks, but when it appears someone close to Poe may become the murderer's next victim, the stakes become even higher and the inventor of modern detective story calls on his own powers of deduction to try to solve the case before it's too late...         

This film is very similar to Sherlock Holmes but definitely without the humour which doesn’t detract from the film.  Do bare in mind that Arthur Conan Doyle writings was influenced by EAP and whereas others have picked up the mantle and ran with it receiving critical and commercial success, The Originator receives accolades such as “Jingle man” (A Prophet is without honour...).        

I did think that John Cusack played the role well, but does have a look which is similar to The Satanist Anton LeVay (The Song “Hotel California” was named after his church which was the first of its kind inCalifornia). Why did I mention this? 

In all the pictures I’ve seen of EAP he had a moustache but in the film version he looks like the Prince Of darkness (aka Mr LeVay but I ain’t judging, just stating the obvious to me).        

The Raven film has no correlation that I can deduce to the world famous poem rather I think it’s a shameless act of exploiting the name of the man in order to promote the film but all that said, it is a very good and entertaining film.

Read the poem then watch this film that shares the name but not the ethos...

Article by @gmanzen / 12th March 2012


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