When Taylor Kitsch’s Civil War veteran John Carter makes his way to the Red Planet this weekend, it will culminate a decades-spanning journey to convert Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 1912 science-fiction fantasy from the page to the silver screen.
Pixar maestro Andrew Stanton – whose credits include the animated hits Finding Nemo and WALL-E – leaps to live action for John Carter, and Walt Disney Pictures presents three theatrical formats from which audiences can choose to experience the intergalactic adventure: 2D, enhanced 3D, and super-sized 3D IMAX (where available).
It remains your choice which screen ratio you prefer, but for those who’re choosing to go out of their way for 3D IMAX, I’m going to single out three scenes that make excellent use of the expanded screen in John Carter and are likely to take your breath away. These might not rival Tom Cruise scaling the Burk Khalifa in Brad Bird’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, the latest film to play IMAX houses around the country. But these will be the shots you’ll be talking about after John Carter opens on Friday, March 9.
The Western Getaway
Before alien technology transports John Carter to Mars, our hero was a sullen Civil War veteran trying to outrun the ghosts of his past by galloping across the expansive frontiers of our nation’s plains. His bad attitude regularly gets him into trouble with authorities, though, and in an early scene, Carter flees a jail cell on horseback with Bryan Cranston’s sheriff on his tail. It’s the first time Stanton lets his camera sweep over the flat terrain, suggesting just how small Carter is on his home planet, and teasing how insignificant he might be on Mars. The wide-angle shot is mirrored often on Mars, where John Carter attempts several visual tricks to fill the alien landscape. Few, though, are as cool as …
The Interactive Map of the Solar System
Hidden in a Martian cave, Carter and his warrior counterpart Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) unlock a crystal-blue map of the solar system, allowing the human to explain where he’s from. The shock of color set against the beige landscapes of Stanton’s Mars illuminates the screen, filling the IMAX screen with a healthy dose of alien geography and science-fiction wonder. If you ask me, the interactive map is Stanton’s most special effect, just ahead of …
The Motorcycle, Pod-Racer Vehicle
OK, that’s not what it’s called. But late in the game – for reasons I can’t reveal here – John Carter boards a sleek, one-person vehicle and rockets through one of Barsoom’s congested cities in a race-the-clock moment to complete a mission. John Carter is overloaded with various space ships, many locked in explosive aerial battles. But Carter’s flight on this motorcycle-inspired craft took me right back to the speeder-bike sequence through Endor’s forests in Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi. And that’s a very good thing.
John Carter opens everywhere on Friday, March 9.