Monday, March 5, 2012

Craig's Pop Culture Round-up!

Hi there! Welcome to my new blog, which will basically be my ramblings that don't belong in my other two blogs. I'll talk about current movies, TV shows, issues, and anything else I can wrap my head around. Who knows, you might learn something! In my first installment of "Craig's Pop Culture Round-Up!," I'll look into the new Disney live action movie, John Carter, share my thoughts on the upcoming Hunger Games film, and give my reaction to this year's Oscars.

Now, if you have seen a movie in the last couple months, or watched TV in that same span of time, then you've seen one of the trailers for Disney's new movie, John Carter. At first glance, it looked like another CGI heavy Sci-fi romp that looked sort of cool, but would end up sucking because of bad dialogue and all around uninspired ideas. The name is stupid too. John Carter? That's what they came up with? I'm guilty of writing off movies after seeing a preview of it in theaters, as are most people. That's the purpose of trailers, to show us a peek of what the movie is about and by that we decide if we will spend ten bucks or more if it's 3-D/IMAX to see it. People know what they like. I know what I like. I do like sci-fi, but not cheesy and uninspired sci-fi. Then I was informed that the movie is in fact based on a book, and not something that Disney created out of thin air. The plot thickens.

It turns out that John Carter is based off of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom (Barsoom is what they call Mars) series, specifically A Princess of Mars. Hmmmm....maybe John Carter wasn't such a bad name for the movie. A Princess of Mars is a little confusing. Burroughs is best known for creating the character Tarzan, though that was after he published the Barsoom series. Burroughs' Barsoom series was written in 1912, a whole century ago, making claims of it being a total rip-off unsubstantial. In fact, the series inspired authors like Arther C. Clarke, Robert A. Heinlein, and especially Ray Bradbury when he did his Martian Chronicles. Carl Sagan even credits the series for inspiring him to become an astrophysicist. Many may balk at the claim in the recent trailers for the movie that this inspired Star Wars and Avatar, but it turns out to be completely true. Both Lucas and Cameron have mentioned in interviews that they based certain aspects in their movies off of the story of John Carter. So why the hell hasn't someone already made this movie?

People have tried since the 30's, it turns out. Bob Clampett approached Burroughs with the idea of adapting A Princess of Mars into a full length animated film. Burroughs liked the idea, since he acknowledged that a live action film would be impossible. Why impossible? Well, let me give you a quick background on the story. In A Princess of Mars, John Carter is described as being an immortal, someone who doesn't remember a childhood, only being in his 30's. He fights for the Confederacy during the Civil War and eventually strikes it rich in Arizona. While hiding from Apaches in a cave, Carter appears to have died. He is mysteriously transported via astral-projection to Mars and inhabits a body identical to his earthly one. Since he is accustomed to Earth's higher gravity, he is much more agile and stronger than the inhabitants of mars. There he meets a princess and helps the locals defeat a threat. I won't go further into the plot, as I'm sure some of you will want to see the movie. Anyway, if anyone had literally tried to make this movie at any time before special effects and CGI, it would of looked incredibly crappy. Sure they could have made the many species of mars, but how do you pull off the insane acrobatics and such that we've seen in the trailers? Anyway, getting back to Clampett, he went ahead and got some footage animated and showed it to test audiences. They hated it, mostly because they found an earthman on mars to be too outlandish. Clampett had to scrap the idea. If the movie would have been made, it would have predated Disney's Snow White and become the first full length animated film. Stop-motion extraordinaire Ray Harryhousen expressed interest in doing a film version in the 50's, but it never came to fruition. Disney bought the rights in the 80's but then realized that technology was still not advanced enough to tackle the project. Disney waited until 2007 to buy the rights back and try again. They finally had a John Carter movie made.

So, there is just a sneak peek at what everyone had to go through to make what appears to be one of the most influential tales in sci-fi. The movie doesn't come out until this Friday, so I can't tell you if it's worth seeing or not. Is there a possibility that Disney will screw it up? Sure, but early reviews for the movie are pretty good, so there's a good chance that we'll see more John Carter movies.

Next topic, The Hunger Games. If you've read the books, then you know that this movie is a huge deal. It's not just with teenage girls either, as I've heard from plenty of males and females of all ages that they can't wait to see the movie. How do I feel about the movie? Well, I'm hopeful. Like every fanboy/fangirl, I want to see a visual representation of what I pictured in my head while reading the book. Guess what though, there never is a really perfect representation. It's because we all picture Peeta looking a different way, or Katniss a little younger. Something will disappoint us fans of the book, I can guarantee it. So, just get over it and enjoy the movie. People haven't liked the casting of the characters. I think they're fine. Let's see how they do before we assume that they are all terrible and cannot fulfill our dreams of a perfect Hunger Games movie.

Here are a few small SPOILERS that I have dug up: Madge will not be in the film. People have already noticed that Prim is the one who gives Katniss the pin in the preview instead of Madge. People are pissed about this. Why? Who cares about Madge? She literally does nothing the whole series except that. Remember the Avox girl? She's gone too. It was interesting in the book, but I can see why they cut it for the movie. We will not see a lot of Cinna's prep team. Sure, we'll meet them and all, but they won't be shown as much as they were in the book. END SPOILERS! Now, I'm sure that some people are going to put up a fuss about those things, but seriously, how do you expect the filmmakers to include everything? Movies would be so much longer. Three hour movies don't appeal to the larger audience, only to die-hard fans. LOTR is an exception to that. What is the one thing I am worried about? The violence, and how they will portray it. The Hunger Games series is extremely violent. People die a lot in the books, and mostly in gruesome ways. Now, this movie is rated PG-13, so the violence has been turned down a little I'm assuming. That, or they'll pull a Dark Knight and not show most of the gruesome stuff. Both ways could lose audience for the film so let's see what they do. Either way, I'm extremely excited for this film.

A few quick hits:

  • A new show that I find intriguing: Awake. Dad gets into accident with wife and kid. In one reality, the wife survived, in another, the son survived. So, every time this guy goes to sleep, he wakes up in the other reality. Oh, he's also a cop, and uses both realities to help him solve crimes with the help of his two partners. I just watched the first episode today and I really enjoyed it. I'll continue to watch it, unlike Alcatraz, and hope that it's not a one note show, like Alcatraz.
  • Community and Bob's Burgers are coming back this week! I was a little afraid they both got cancelled. I need some more Troy and Abed in my life.
  • Hope you liked the Oscars this year. Saw The Artist winning Best Picture from a mile away (great film btw) but Meryl Streep winning Best Actress threw me off. It also ruined the contest I was in to win free movie passes for a year. STRE-E-E-E-EP! Note to the Academy: More hosts like Billy Crystal, less like Hathaway and Franco. Sincerely, Everyone.

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