Why Do the John Carter Trailers Suck?
Ever since A Princess of Mars was published someone has been trying to make a film based on the Martian tales of Edgar Rice Burroughs. One hundred years after it starting appearing in pulp pages Burroughs’ Barsoom tales will finally make it to the big screen directed by Pixar’s Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E).
John Carter is the filmed version of Burroughs’ first Martian tales novel A Princess of Mars. It is told from the point of view of the titular character’s nephew who has inherited his uncle’s diary. In the diary is an epic tale telling how a civil war veteran is projected to Mars, meets differing intelligent species and unites them to fight for their future.
These novels have influences many writers, directors and musicians. The sail barge scene and Leia’s metal bikini in The Return of the Jedi are a direct homage to Burroughs’ Barsoom novels. Desert planet, flying ships, scantily clad princess… all from Burroughs.
So starting last summer and up to this year’s Super Bowl we’ve been getting lots of teaser trailers about a movie that has been literally planned for over 100 years. None of them really convey what the movie is about and if you are unfamiliar with the novels then you might be very confused by the trailers that have been released so far. A trailer of Victorian people reading a journal. A few trailers of what looks to be Conan doing Matrix-esque stuff. Most of the trailers have odd voice overs that obscure rather than explain what’s going on.
I’m not saying I want to see the movie cut down to two minutes, but it should be relatively easy to put together a trailer that gives the premise of the movie and some action scenes without giving away the whole plot. We aren’t trying to make Fight Club here. John Carter is a very straight forward high concept movie. It shouldn’t be that hard to put a trailer together that highlights all the goodness that will be in the film, rather than a handful of trailers that make the movie look schizophrenic. Oh, wait they do have a coherent trailer explaining the premise and giving eye candy, but it was only for Japan.