Disney held a special event this week to prepare the way for the way for the new live action movie “John Carter” due for release in 2012. As two of our Disneybrit Idol finalists live in London we sent them along to see what all the fuss was about.

This Thursday, Thanks to Disneybrit.com, Seefilmfirst.com and The Walt Disney Company, I was able to attend a press night event for the new Disney live action blockbuster John Carter, based on the classic A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The film is about Civil War hero John Carter who leaves the army to become a prospector for gold. He stumbles upon a cave which transports him to the planet we know as Mars but the inhabitants know as Barsoom.

The night began with an introduction by Bob Roath (one of the producers of the film) to discuss the history and development of John Carter from the page to the screen. One of the more interesting things that were discussed was how they created the landscapes of Mars by taking real earth locations and digitally manipulating them so things looked familiar yet different. He also talked about how they created the Tarks, the martin protagonists of the film, by having the actors playing them wearing stilts to make them 9ft tall, as they are in the original stories.

We then saw 5 Clips from the film to give us an idea of what to expect to see when the film opens on March 9th.  I warn in advance that there maybe some spoilers ahead so if you want to avoid these please scroll past the next few paragraphs.

The first clip was of John Carter who had been captured by a Civil War Army General. It’s hard to describe the clip in real detail, but it was very funny and had a touch of an Indiana Jones like character. The gist was he kept attacking/escaping his captors and a quick cut after each attempt lead to him being put in a more elaborate restraining device then the last one. I told you it was hard to describe!

The Second clip we found John Carter just after he lands on Mars. He discovers a glass covered pit like incubator full of eggs which start to hatch little green Martian babies. He is then discovered by the Tarks led by Tars Tarkas who tries to get a closer look at John Carter. It is this scene we discover due to the atmosphere of Mars; John Carter can leap huge distances. The rest of the army try shooting at John and Tars gets in the way. As the scene fades to black you are unsure if Tars has been hit by protecting John.

In the third clip, John Carter has been kept chained to a wall with the rest of the Martian babies in a massive cave. He is being guarded by a Barsoomian Dog named Woola who is sleeping. As John Carter leaps to escape, the dog has beaten him to his landing spot. As John Carted tries to escape, the dog always gets there first thanks to his amazing speed.

The forth clip involves John Carter, Woola and Dejah Thoris, the princess of Helium riding on Thoats, a Barsoomian type of horse as they are being attacked by a rival army. John Carter says he can’t let this happen again, and sends of Dejah so he can delay the army by attacking them first. As he draws his swords ready for combat and the fight begins we get flashbacks to his life on Earth and seeing him come home from War with his home burnt to the ground and his wife found dead inside. The footage carries on going from the war on mars to Johns past on Earth and him digging a grave for his Wife and burying her. The end of this scene showed him being overcome by the rival Martian army.

The final clip was an arena fight and had John Carter chained to the ground with a Martian who I believed was Tars. They were fighting two giant white Apes. This scene looked like a direct copy of the arena fight in Star Wars Episode 2 -Attack of the Clones. This is the only scene that left me a little worried about the films reception when it gets released in March. However, they didn’t mean it wasn’t entertaining, it really looked great.

So all in all, the Film looks great. Much better then I was expecting. I have two reservations. The first is Disney’s track record with live action films of late, especially Sci-fi. Admittedly, John Carter is just as much a Fantasy film as it is Sci-Fi. But I am worried it will end up like Tron Legacy. A great film that doesn’t do as well at the box office as it deserves. The fact there has been no merchandise and poor promotion thus far means I am worried it to will not do so well.

The second is the claims of copying other films. The book is about 100 years old and nearly every sci-fi film has drawn inspiration from (or stolen) themes and ideas from these stories and like I mentioned in my review of the last clip that when people see that scene they will think Star Wars. I hope that audiences are able to realise that John Carter was the original, and is not trying to copy other famous sci-fi films.

John Carter, under the Direction of Pixar’s Andrew Stanton, could be a big Disney franchise, something that it could really do with. The planned John Carter to be a trilogy and the success of this first film will determine the future of the series. I hope it finds its audience and I for one will definitely be there opening weekend to see the final film.

Listen up to a future edition of the Disneybrit Podcast to hear audio from the Q&A session held during the event. In the meantime, check out the video taken at the event.

And if you haven’t had chance to see the trailer for the move you can check that out here