You saw ‘John Carter,’ right? No, not the Asylum version, ‘Princess of Mars.’ I’m talking about the Disney version, called ‘John Carter.’ That movie’s production is a sad tale of being kind of ignored by its studio, bounced around a bit, and ultimately excoriated for its poor performance in theaters. While it wasn’t the greatest movie ever, it really wasn’t as bad as a lot of people made it out to be. The movie was directed by Andrew Stanton, but for a while Kerry Conran, who directed ‘Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow,’ was slated for that role. Recently, Harry Knowles uploaded a high definition video of Conran’s presentation reel to YouTube, and it gives a peek into his vision for the movie. (A lower resolution version of the video has been floating around for a while, but this version is much more impressive, for obvious reasons.) Even though this presentation reel is pretty rough, it’s got some interesting ideas. I’ve seen a few people out there already declaring this to be superior to what was actually made, but I’m not so convinced.
To be sure, there is a lot about this reel that is great. I like that the Tharks would have been much larger than John Carter and the Red Martians, just like in the books; the choreography bit was rather well-done; and most of the landscapes were alien and impressive. But some of it made me scratch my head. For instance, I’m not so convinced about showing a bunch of weird, alien planets with rings around them in the sky. It’s Mars, for crying out loud, it has two smallish moons in its sky, not Saturn and some other planet.
The real problem is that, while the video is certainly impressive to look at, (as to be expected of the guy who brought us ‘Sky Captain,’) the presentation reel is nothing more than that, a presentation meant to give you an idea of what they wanted the final product to look like, but we never got that final product. While it could have lead to a great movie, there’s no guarantee it would have been. What we got was a mediocre-to-decent movie. That’s not ideal, certainly, but is it really worth the trouble of pining over what could have been? And hey, at least Disney’s version was still better than the Asylum’s.
What do you think about this presentation reel? Was it better than the ‘John Carter’ movie that we did get? Or is it just an interesting bit of Hollywood history? Let us know in the comments below.