Many tales tell of ferocious carnivorous apes stalking the dark forests of lost worlds for human prey. D&D’s version probably derives from the Mangani of Burroughs’ Tarzan stories. (Dave Trampier from the AD&D Monster Manual, TSR, 1977.)
Since you like John Carter so much, how did you feel about the movie?
Loved it. It
was fun and entertaining, watchable and truly clever…but not a Pixar-style
triumph, which is what you’d expect from the braintrust that created it. And it definitely made some unfortunate storytelling decisions. I
mean, John Carter had three different opening scenes. It also had a
violent action scene intercut with a super-dramatic memory of John Carter’s
family dying, which eliminated the drama from both. FilmCritHulk put it best when he said in his review that the movie overexplained itself, so it simultaneously felt like it was moving at a breakneck pace but also covered very little ground.
As far as a Burroughs adaptation goes it’s very good but not perfect,
but it’s got everything your inner eleven year old wants: the coolest
dog in the world, a four armed best buddy, and winning the hand of a
gorgeous princess with swordfighting.
Fun fact: I was so pumped about a John Carter of Mars movie that I saw it at a midnight showing. You know who was in my theater? The pro wrestler, the Big Show. Thankfully, he did not sit in front of me…but there’s a guy who could have come right from Barsoom!
Nobody in the cast was terrible, but Lynn Collins was absolutely marvelous. She’s a real discovery, and it’s kind of a bummer she hasn’t become a big movie star because she’s so fun, and is good looking at a Shania Twain “hurts to look at/how is she even a real person?” level. I’m reminded of a quote about John Stamos at the Comedy Central Roast of Bob Saget: “you are the most attractive unsuccessful man I’ve ever met!” Seeing her as Dejah Thoris reminds me of when I saw Christopher Reeve as Superman for the first time. Here was a role impossible to cast, but then, someone shows up who looks like they walked off the page.
Unlike other newly upgraded martial heroines, the story actually commits
to her being a great fighter, and she plays a role in the end of the
story and doesn’t lose her martial skills when they’re inconvenient to
the plot (unlike Maid Marian in Prince of Thieves), and she actually
wins fights (unlike Kate Beckinsale’s fake action girl in Van Helsing).
She actually uses her great intelligence in several scenes to figure out
Thern technology and translate inscriptions. She’s less a movie girlfriend and more a Spock-like smart sidekick.
Making Dejah Thoris a supergenius is actually a pretty good substitution
in the story. Previously, Dejah Thoris was captured all the time
because she was the world’s most beautiful woman and often did things
that were self-destructive or moronically out of character, like
suddenly insist she was going to marry Sab Than out of nowhere. If Dejah
Thoris was a scientist on the verge of a great discovery, it makes
sense villains trying to stifle that discovery would try to have her
killed or captured.
I was shocked when I heard she was a scientist, but looking back, that’s a legit alternate interpretation of what she was doing when the Green Men of Thark captured her (atmospheric tests), though the usual interpretation is she was there a royal administrator.
Speaking about the John Carter strictly as an adaptation, which I am better qualified to do:
The best decision the movie made was to fold the bookending frame story (about Edgar Rice Burroughs finding out that his “Uncle Jack” was dead) into the main story. Now the ERB story started as a hook/inciting incident, and the resolution, with John Carter’s return to Barsoom, was a knockout punch. It was the cleverest decision the adaptation chose to make. Also, it was a hoot to see one of the Spy Kids as young Edgar Rice Burroughs.
I wish there were more easter eggs for fans, like in Lord of the Rings or the Marvel movies. Couldn’t we have had some bucktoothed guy in the Zodanga scenes who was Rapas the Ulsio, or a weirdo inventor who might be Fal Sivas? Couldn’t we have had a few guys playing Jetan in the background? No one person in the background in a diamond harness who might be a
Gatholian? No dropped hints of a lost Ptarthian princess who would later
be revealed as Thuvia in the next movie?
At the very least, could one of the scenes in John Carter’s study on earth have had a map of Caspak or maybe a Mangani skull? It doesn’t have to kill the momentum of the film, just do Lord of the Rings did, and have Galadriel wear the ring Narya and not comment on it. More people will get these than you think. After all, when the android Human Torch showed up in Captain America, it drew gasps from the audience I watched the movie with.
Woola worked on screen better than expected. He reminded me of dogs that are ugly, but become adorable because of their love and loyalty, like French Mastiffs (you know, the dog from Turner & Hooch?). I shouldn’t be surprised the best thing about a movie mostly done by the Pixar braintrust were dialogue-free scenes with an adorable but confused animal. What a scene stealing little monster!
In addition, I was afraid they would leave out the detail that Tars Tarkas was Sola’s father, which humanized him and is the emotional core of all the Green Man scenes. But it’s there.
Since Sola knew love and family among otherwise loveless and
unsentimental creatures like the Tharks, Sola stands out as a screwup
who doesn’t fit into her society perfectly. This is the only time the
otherwise drab “sad hero” backstory for John Carter is actually used to
really good effect. Because he recognizes something of himself in the
Also, I liked the idea the Holy Therns were present from the beginning of the series, which
makes perfect sense: who is to say how much they were working in the background
of Princess of Mars? Introducing the Therns early unifies the movies. I like
that the movies took pains to debunk the Therns, which is crucial: they are false gods and there is nothing special about them. In the movie, one was killed early on (to emphasize their mortality), and there is nothing super about their crystal weapon doo-dad: Dejah Thoris was on the verge of discovering it herself, but it failed because of a spy. The great weapon the Holy Therns have is the fanatic devotion of loyal followers, which allows them a lot of spies and the ability to be everywhere at once. They also have the fundamental intransigence of Barsoomians on their side, who straight up won’t believe a region they’ve honored for thousands of generations was a lie and a scam.
Additionally, I like the idea that the subterranean theme of the movie was ecology. If I have a critique of
the Burroughs books, it is that we are told over and over that Barsoom was old
and dying and ancient, but there was no urgency or immediacy attached to that
concept. Nothing was in danger of running out, apart from some business early in the series
with the atmosphere factory.
If I had to identify the one thing that didn’t work, it was a mistake to give energetic, Errol Flynn-like alpha male
John Carter a “sad hero” backstory with a dead family. After all, John Carter
is not an aimless drifter searching for purpose, but a boundless man of energy
and elan keen to try new adventures. The arc could have been tweaked; instead of a war-scarred nihilist, he could have been the kind of guy who didn’t place roots anywhere, making his decision to go back and rescue the Princess from Zodanga meaningful. It would have been an arc truer to the character.
After the movie, it’s very, very interesting to read the Warlord of Mars comics from Dynamite, which are like an alternate universe. Whereas this movie shaved off the weirder Burroughs stuff like John Carter having a son with his princess wife who hatched from an egg, or how all Martians have telepathy, the Warlord of Mars comics brassily double down on all the things the adaptations cut. Everyone being telepathic is a constant plot point (even Burroughs himself forgot about that bit for a few books). A few guys use the Tree of Life all Martian life sprang from to clone, etc.
Oh, hey, one last thing: isn’t it weird the guy they got to be Tardos Mors was older looking? Barsoomians live to be a thousand and stay young looking all that time, so Dejah’s father and grandfather should look the exact same age Dejah does!
The character Tantor was actually created specifically for the Disney movie. In the original books, “Tantor” is actually the Mangani (the gorillas’ language) term for any elephant in the African jungle.
In the novels, Tarzan was not raised by gorillas, chimpanzees, or any known species of great ape. The novels take pains to emphasize that the Mangani are a species of ape unknown to science. They’re bigger than gorillas and might be responsible for some of the legends of Sasquatch, but are slightly above apes in that they have proto-language and have rituals like the Dum-Dum.
Most artists draw the Mangani as something like gorillas, but occasionally, we see a few that draw them as a true unknown species of ape, like Neal Adams and the covers of the Ballatine editions:
Finally guys! I watched it and I honestly LOVED it and enjoyed it thoroughly! I was really nervous about finally seeing it but it turned out to be everything an adventure summer movie should be. I wish it was a little bit longer though but it still was one big fun ride. It has kind of an old school feel to it and I really took great pleasure in that. Everything felt so big and lush. Cinematography and sets in this movie are nothing short of spectacular, a true feast for the eyes. The animals were magnificent too, and Mangani looked so alive and real I loved every second of it (although elephants are my personal favorites). The plot is fairly simple yet nicely managed. It touches some very important issues as well so it’s not just a mindless fun. I also immensely enjoyed all the flashbacks of young/baby Tarzan and I found myself wanting to see more of it.
Alex was phenomenal. Now, you may call me biased, rightfully so LOL, but it’s all a matter of perception anyway. I personally loved his portrayal of Lord Greystoke/Tarzan so much. My god, he looked larger than life..There were legit a couple of times during the screening when I realized I have my mouth open and that never happens to me! I was so engrossed! (one of my best friends was with me and she would tease me mercilessly because of this lol) And not only did he embody Tarzan so perfectly he also delivered an intriguing and emotional aspect of the iconic character that I feel hasn’t really been explored that much in the past. He speaks with his eyes, he’s always had that, but it’s so poignant in this movie it’s outstanding. His chemistry with both Margot and Sam Jackson was spot on.. I must admit though I was particularly enjoying the bromance going on between Tarzan and Sam’s character. hehe
Also, the movie is packed with CGI, so what? Apparently I’m not spoiled (obsessed) enough with it, like so many people seem to be, so it looked pretty damn fine to me. Truth be told, there was like just one short segment when I actually noticed CGI. Just one! For like 2.5 seconds, I mean c’mon! I’s not even worth mentioning. :)))
Overall, I highly recommend you check out this movie. It is worth it. Go and see it if you can. Give it a chance. And if you are a fan of Alexander then even more so, you won’t be disappointed. It is a critic’s job to criticize, that’s why they’re called critics LOL, We get it, hell, If I was getting paid for it, I would be as damn melodramatic and pedantic as possible too. ;)
Anyway, I know for sure I will be seeing it again this weekend.
The 21st Century Guid to the Punjabi Wedding - Part 1: The Roka
Welcome to Manveer’s Declassified Vyaah Survival Guide. In this series I will attempt to explain the nuances and various parts of a traditional Punjabi wedding.
Disclaimer: This series deals with the cultural practices observed in Punjabi wedding, and isn’t so much about religion.
Prologue: While I was growing up, I was the oldest child in my family, and practically had no friends, except my grandma, and her circle (what can I say? Bibis love me). This gave me access to our Punjabi cultural archives (ie. Bibi gossip sessions), where the traditions from past generations were passed down onto me orally. I know that oral traditions become unaccessible because of language barriers, so this is a small attempt at keeping these traditions alive within our culture.
Part 1: The Roka (not the leafie green some people put in their salads)
Punjabi weddings, as you all may know, are made up of numerous events, days, ceremonies, songs, food, etc. Keeping track of it can be very hard, so let’s start in chronological order.
Let’s take this back to good old days before eHarmony and Shaadi.com. You lived in villages, and everyone in the village was related to you in some way or another, so when you came to a certain age, your parents would begin starting to look for a partner for you. Rishte, alliance proposals, would come in and your compatibilities would be matched, and often times several rishte would come by before you were matched with “the one.” In this time, you would often entertain rishte from multiple people, and once you found someone, the families would have to rok (stop) other rishte, so that you and your newly found match could be an item now.
This ceremony, called the Roka, takes place even today. Nowadays it’s not so much a YES-WE-FOUND-YOU-A-RISHTA type of thing, but it’s more of a okay-you-can-stop-secretly-dating-now-and-begin-preparing-to-settle-down-with-one-another type of thing.
The Roka, also sometimes called a Tthaaka, is the simplest of all the wedding traditions. Either the girl’s parents visit the groom, and vice versa, or the two families will meet with close relatives in one setting. Sometimes an Ardaas (Sikh prayer of supplication) or Puja (Hindu veneration) is done to mark a new turning point in the girl’s and the boy’s lives. The Roka and Tthaaka are now a combined event, with both ceremonies done at the same time, but back in the day they would be separate:
Roka: In the Roka, the girl’s relatives would visit the groom’s family (without the girl) and place a coin in the boy’s hand as a symbol of the Rok. The elders would then give sagan to the boy.
Tthakka: The Tthaaka is similar to the Roka, but it would take place in the girl’s home with the boy’s family visiting (in this ceremony, the boy would accompany the family). The two would sit together for the first time as a couple, and the boy’s female relatives would give the girl a chunni, or a veil, as a symbol of accepting her as a part of the family. The couple would then be given sagan.
(Sagan will be a recurring theme in this series. Sagan means “auspiscious” or “good omen” and is given in the form of food or money. Sagan is fed to the couple by elders in the form of sweets- as a wish for a sweet life together; the elders will feed the couple with their right hand an odd ammount of time- either three, five, or seven. Sagan is given by attendees as money to the couple- which is places into the bride and groom’s lap. This is also given in odd numbers. Odd numbers are of importance in Punjabi weddings because they represent a wish for abundance. Even numbers are even and are paired up in twos, but an odd number has one extra, which is what the giver of sagan is wishing upon the couple; an abundance of happiness. PLEASE NOTE: Sagan is not the same as vaarna. Vaarna is when you take money and wave it in a circular motion over the couple’s head and give it as charity; this serves two purposes, warding away the “evil eye” and donating in the name of the couple, so if you do vaarna, do NOT put the money into the couple’s laps as sagan.)
If there was a vichaula (literally translated meaning is “middle person,” it refers to the matchmaker) they would be present at this event to facilitate the introduction of the two families. So after all the sagan-giving, the two families begin to get to know one another more over a meal (what is a wedding ceremony without food?) and the wedding planning can now officially begin!!