ROASTS OF MARS | Okay, I’ve gotta be honest. The trailer for Disney’s JOHN CARTER isn’t a total bust, and a lot of the credit for that goes its smart use of the haunting and symphonic Peter Gabriel cover of Arcade Fire’s “My Body Is a Cage.” Synch it to a preview for a movie that’s probably going to suck, and even the blandest footage suddenly seems reasonably compelling. Shit, this song could even sell me on sequences of Kevin James riding a fart-powered hover-segway in Paul Blart 2: Mall Cop of the Future. Anyway, John Carter is ostensibly a lavish adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, a beloved sci-fi novel that was published in 1917 and went on to influence a lot of popular genre writing, including (according to literary critics) H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds. Based on this strangely familiar teaser, though, you’d never think its source material was such a 20th-century trendsetter, as the film essentially comes off like a mish-mash of elements from recent big-budget F/X extravaganzas — or, if you prefer, Now That’s What I Call Blockbuster: Volume 41. As far as I can tell, here’s the recipe for making your very own John Carter:
- 1 dude wakin’ up in middle of arid desert plane (Cowboys & Aliens)
- 4 avian spaceships (Cowboys & Aliens)
- 9 glowy indigenous tendrils (Avatar)
- 1 Geonosian insect creature (Star Wars: Episode II)
- 3 handfuls of marauding monsters in dust cloud (Priest)
- 1 enigmatic mystery man in black duster and Stetson (Priest)
- 1 hero acrobat in knived harness and sexy-warrior hair (Prince of Persia)
Directions: Combine all ingredients in humongous crock pot. Heat until lukewarm. Leave to cool on stovetop for eight months. Serve stale at room temperature. Enjoy only if you have no taste, literally and/or figuratively.
Taylor Kitsch, last seen as Gambercrombie in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, plays the title role, a hunky soldier teleported from the battlefields of the Civil War — were washboard abs a thing in the early 1860s? — to fight sundry CGI beasties on some random planet. Naturally, he must also find time for romance with that aforementioned martian empress (Lynn Collins, Kitsch’s Wolverine co-star), a lady so beige that Hollywood Tans must be quite popular in her neck of the galaxy. Spy Kids’ Daryl Sabara rounds out the cast as a fictionalized version of Burroughs, because why not put him in his own story? There’s really only one way John Carter could possibly be any good: Peter Gabriel needs to be blasting in every damn scene. —Jasper
■■■ If you must: John Carter opens March 9.