Al at "Warriors of the Red Planet" isn't very happy with the trailer for "John Carter." He suggests an equivalence with this trailer for "Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time."
I'm not seeing it.
Yes, there is a similarity in pallet and action beats. Both sport sleeveless Caucasian heroes wearing lots of brown leather and scraggly hair cut at jaw-length. The Prince of Persia trailer also promises an epic good time. The music is, in fact, epic, with full orchestra and moaning choir throbbing beneath a narrator whose first words are "Legends tell..." which I'm thinking is the new "In a world…” only a bit more specific to genre flicks. What follows is a mix of high-flying adventure with lots of acrobatics and humor based on a sultry beauty with a mischievous grin teasing a clumsy-tongued hero. If you've seen the movie (I did and thought it was fun) then you'll note it is a great trailer; it tells you exactly what to expect in the movie.
The John Carter trailer is a different beast entirely. It's a much more somber affair with its pulsing piano riff that creates a musical backbone that runs through the entire trailer. It begins not with epic vistas, but with gray, rainy streets and the announcement of a death. Even when the scenery does become epic and the music swells, it grows more discordant, uncertain, even broken. There is not a single moment of comedy in this trailer; John Carter's princess never smiles, and when she speaks, she speaks of death. All of the action beats are fraught with peril. They are not our hero triumphing, but moments of tension: burning hulks, shadowy figures stepping into a gloomy room, our hero outnumbered on the edge of a precipice, our hero being chased by seven riders, the Princess armed with a sword facing down a thark with a rifle. Danger, tension, and impending disaster. No rollicking good time here.
Maybe I'm reading too much into the music and the pacing of this trailer, but there is an undercurrent of pathos here. Yes, that does work with the books in which Barsoom is a dying world. But I'm also getting a sense of brokenness from John Carter. I suspect his history as a veteran of the Civil War is going to be more than simple backstory explanation for his skills as a rider, swordsman, and soldier.
I have been impressed again and again by the writing skills of the Pixar crew. It's one of the things that gives me hope for this movie. However, they do seem to fall into a pattern of creating empathy through pain. There is something broken about all Pixar protagonists, whether you're talking about toy cowboys, retired superheroes, junkyard robots, or geriatric dreamers. I suspect we'll see the same from John Carter.