The Last Sci-Fi Blog: 'The Hunger Games' vs. 'John Carter': the Useless Showdown You've Been Waiting For!

The Last Sci-Fi Blog: 'The Hunger Games' vs. 'John Carter': the Useless Showdown You've Been Waiting For!

Mar 29, 2012

The Sci-Fi News: Marketing for the Total Recall Remake, News on the RoboCop Remake and a Trailer for a Movie That's Not a Paul Verhoeven Remake

And this was the week that the Powers That Be chose to begin their marketing push for the upcoming remake of Total Recall. See the poster to the left. See the poster in motion (technology!) underneath this paragraph. See the teaser for the upcoming teaser trailer here (a marketing trend that deserves to be thrown out of a three story window). For many people (including yours truly), the original Total Recall is a legitimate classic, an incredible mixture of action, comedy, satire and mind-bending science fiction concepts.

Like so many Paul Verhoeven films, it's a ridiculously smart movie disguised a dumb one, well aware of how weird and silly and grotesque it is. What can we expect from Len Wiseman's remake, starring Colin Farrell? Well, what we're given here looks like an awfully generic sci-fi action movie with a few touches deliberately borrowed from the original to let audiences connect the dots (the Rekall machine, in particularly, looks straight out of the original). Of course, all of this is judging movie based on a teaser for a teaser and that's stupid.

Speaking of remakes of Paul Verhoeven science fiction satires, Joel Kinnaman talked to MTV about taking on the role of Murphy in the upcoming "re-imagining" of RoboCop. Although it's one of those fluffy "I can't say anything because I really don't know anything" kind of deals, Kinnaman does reveal that his RoboCop will be "a lot more human" and that you'll be able to see his eyes in the redesigned RoboCop costume. He also mentions that director Jose Padhilla will be striking a far different tone than Verhoeven and will be grounding his story in realistic science. We all have an opinion on remaking RoboCop (yes, all of us), but I'm glad that Padhilla is taking things in a completely new direction. If it must be remade, the very least you can do is take a left turn from the expected.

Finally, the trailer for the absolutely wonderful kind-of, sort-of science fiction romantic comedy Safety Not Guaranteed is available for you to watch over here. Don't miss this one if you like good things.

 

The Sci-Fi Discussion: The Hunger Games vs John Carter

The box office success of The Hunger Games and the failure of John Carter have been well documented across these here Internets. The former is the first step toward turning Lionsgate into a major player, an adaptation of a popular novel with a large fanbase. The other is a black eye for Disney, an adaptation of an influential but somewhat forgotten series. It's easy to see why one soared while the other flopped based purely on built-in audiences: if you walk into a Wal-Mart, you'll find yourself looking at a copy of The Hunger Games. If you're lucky, you can stumble across a copy of A Princess of Mars in your local Half Price Books

But those are just numbers. As the two "big" science fiction movies released so far in 2012, how do they stack up to one another. Heck, is it even fair to compare them? Probably not, but I'm going to do it anyway.

Although published only a few years ago, The Hunger Games has more in common with the thoughtful, politically motivated science fiction of the 1970s than most recent entires in the genre. Not only does it tell a story of class warfare taken to a literal extreme, it features bad guys who wear white jumpsuits. Bad guys in white jumpsuits! Shades of Logan's Run, anyone? The Hunger Games isn't a great movie, but it's definitely a very good one, more than making up for its serious flaws with beautiful acting and a strong sense of purpose. Of course, these shouldn't keep anyone from ignoring the occasionally impenetrable world-building and the Poor-Man's-Paul-Greengrass action scenes, but I'll take ideas over action any day.

As for John Carter, you couldn't find a more different sci-fi film from The Hunger Games if you tried. Unlike the vague and frighteningly plausible world of Panem, the Mars/Barsoom seen in John Carter is essentially a fantasy world, where science and reason take a backseat to Things That Are Really Cool. That may sound like a bad thing, but in the capable hands of Andrew Stanton, it's not. Packing more character, heart and shear content into its two and a half hour running time than just about any other blockbuster genre effort in recent memory, John Carter is a pulpy epic, a mishmash 1930s serial fun and 1960s David Lean-esque scope. The trailers did everything in their power to hide John Carter's scope, character and sense of humor. Why are we so afraid of big, bold, silly, hopelessly romantic space operas like this? The failure of John Carter is just a sad day for film fans.

As dumb as it is to run these films head-to-head like this, I'm giving the victory to John Carter for being more consistent and entertaining while not getting bogged down in building its world (which The Hunger Games is certainly guilty of). Silly competitions aside, I'm just glad the world is blessed with such solid science fiction right now…although one of them will have to be truly discovered at home on DVD.

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Which one of these people is in the movie Hercules?

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John Hurt