Thursday, July 14, 2011

John Carter Website Launches

The official website for the 2012 film John Carter launched today. You can see it here. There's next to nothing there as yet, but a trailer of some sort is scheduled to be released at 10 AM Pacific time today, so that might give us something to actually discuss. Despite my initial concerns last year, I'm feeling a great deal more positive about John Carter than I am about either The Hobbit or Conan the Barbarian. John Carter looks like it'll be very faithful to the source material, right down to Carter's origins as a Civil War veteran. That alone speaks volumes about how seriously writer/director Andrew Stanton takes his job in adapting this classic of science fiction.

I'll certainly have more to say once I've seen the trailer.

45 comments:

  1. I don't think being true to source material = seriousness of task.

    Peter Jackson took years of his life to make LOTR. As you recall, it was a project no one much believed in and no one thought would make money, which is why he filmed all 3 at once.

    No one really thought the first movie would do well enough for him to get to make all 3.

    But just because you disagree doesn't mean he didn't give a damn and just woke on Tuesday and decided to rewrite a classic.

    Ralph Bakshi tried to animate LOTR and failed and he's a genius imo. Peter Jackson pulled off a great feat of moviemaking and imo, did it well.

    So I am going to see the Hobbit day one, and judge it as a film, not a book, and not a series of still photographs.

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  2. I do not share you feeling on the Hobbit. So the dwarves have short beards, does that really detract from the story at all? I have every faith in Peter Jackson based on what he did with the LotR movies. If I want the Hobbit exactly like the book then I have 3 for 4 copies of it here in my house to read.

    Now I am not as familiar with John Carter of Mars. But I do know Andrew Stanton's work from Pixar, so he also gets the benefit of the doubt from me.

    In any case the only way to be sure is wait till the movies are out and then watch them.

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  3. I like the music on the site. (I'm not touching The Hobbit debate with a ten foot pole--too much heat on both sides, if you ask me.)

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  4. Have you seen the concept art yet? Helium looks great!

    http://www.ropeofsilicon.com/article/john-carter-concept-art-previews-helium-airship-city-dusk

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  5. I've let go of my need for the movie to match the source material, and I'm much happier for it. If I want to read the Howard, Burroughs or Tolkien, that's what I'll do. After PJ's Kong, though, I can't say I'm looking forward to any of his future efforts.

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  6. I'm looking forward to that preview!

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  7. ..
    It should also be noted that both the 70's Bakshi version and the Jackson version of the Hobbit , have the connection of being co-porducerd by Saul Zaentz( who actually bought the film rights from Tolkien's family ). Saul Zaentz is one of the great films producers of his time( and a very nice man as I met him a longtime ago for a talk he did in Berkeley).Sure your not going to get anything like the Bakshi film with Zaentz involved, but you will get what PJ did and probably even better.

    It's a really good time for the genre of fantasy, and as quibblings go, people should think back thirty years ago when other then Dragonslayer, the majority o the fantasy films SUCKED ares with such crapfest like " Xanadu"and " the Last Unicorn". Even such manly fair like " The Beast Master" and " Krull" were as fun to watch as a bad saturday morning cartoon. Although , I will admit after twenty years, I have some
    bit of positive nostalgia for them, but not much...

    I will say the new Conan is looking more and more like a lost cause and it's too bad because I think Momoa has it in him to be that fearsome, son-of-a bitch Howard wrote and dreamed about. Especially after watching the first season of Game of Thrones and that fight scene George Martin wrote just for him in Episode 6.

    Anyway, eough trolling..John Carter is looking better and better each day and soon will be having a trailer.

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  8. And it's up on YouTube (and looks beautiful!)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6Rf55GTEZ_E

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  9. Chuck: "I don't think being true to source material = seriousness of task.

    Peter Jackson took years of his life to make LOTR. As you recall, it was a project no one much believed in and no one thought would make money, which is why he filmed all 3 at once."

    Hear hear! You may not agree with what he's done, but to say that Jackson wasn't serious or passionate in his intent is missing the mark. I don't think the LoTR trilogy was perfect, there were tons of things that I didn't like, but overall I was incredibly grateful that the movies *had* a strong vision behind them, and that they were as great as they were.

    Off Topic, RE: Conan. I'm also disappointed that the movie is looking kind of lame, because I think Jason Momoa is a great casting choice based on his Khal Drogo portrayal.

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  10. @chuck. Damn straight. I don't care whether people like a film or not but the assertion that because someone made something one doesn't like, then that means the artist didn't care or is an unskilled artist, etc. annoys me.

    If a film is made by a committee of suits, I may feel more comfortable slagging the motives behind the film. But when an individual works his ass off to get a project done and fight for his vision of the project - whether I like it or not - I'll defend him and his efforts.

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  11. +1 to Chuck & Osskorrei. As for JC--I cut my teeth on Burroughs and Howard and was quite imitative of them during the process of learning to write fiction. But, this aint McCarthy or Faulkner wer're talking about as source material. The Mars saga is guilty pleasure material at best. It's lowbrow pulp with an uber Mary Sue in the lead; John Wayne goes to Mars to learn them savages a lesson. Everything he touches is gold, and there's no coincidence or plot contrivance the author didn't love. Let's keep a little perspective on the cartoon as lit we're dealing with, eh?

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  12. Another thing, to me at least, is using John Carter "civil war veteran" as a rubric of authenticity.

    John Carter is immortal. He dies on Earth and is reborn on Mars, then dies on Mars and is reborn on Earth.

    Who can say how long he has danced his dance with the red planet? Into the modern day? From the beginning of time?

    So to me, I wouldn't have judged the movie on that choice alone. But then, I tend to be forgiving of the sorts of choices that need to be made in these things.

    Books and movies are VERY different animals.

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  13. The preview looks great. Love the theme song.

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  14. "Books and movies are VERY different animals."

    That observation is not going to gain traction with people with limited experience of creating either. Our so-called entitlement generation is not the first of its kind.

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  15. Let's keep a little perspective on the cartoon as lit we're dealing with, eh?

    Wow.

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  16. Another thing, to me at least, is using John Carter "civil war veteran" as a rubric of authenticity.

    The reason I mention it is because it would have been very easy for another director to have changed John Carter to a man of the 21st century rather than the 19th. That wouldn't necessarily have affected the story significantly. That Stanton chose to stay faithful to that point suggests to me that he values fidelity in adaptation, even in small details, which is how I prefer it. I have no qualm with anyone who doesn't think it matters, but I do wish people would stop assuming those of us who do care about such things are just unrealistic who need to "keep a little perspective."

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  17. That observation is not going to gain traction with people with limited experience of creating either. Our so-called entitlement generation is not the first of its kind.

    I've been tolerant thus far, but this kind of response ends now. Disagree if you wish but there's no call for impugning anyone who disagrees with your own position as being know-nothings with a sense of entitlement.

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  18. The theme song (and LORDY, I hope they keep it!) is Peter Gabriel's cover of an Arcade Fire song, "My Body is a Cage", recorded on his "Scratch My Back" cover album: http://www.petergabriel.com/features/Scratch_My_Back/

    But man, how perfect are those lyrics??

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  19. I hear you. One query, though: I take it "wow" was a reasoned or respectful rejoinder to my thoughts on why it may be a we bit silly to get overly worked up over JC?

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  20. I don't think anyone's claiming that the John Carter of Mars books are Great Literature; they are, however, dear to many people's hearts. Thus the enthusiasm and opinions on adaptation.

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  21. Good point, Kesher. I devoured them as a kid, I just don't feel sentimental about their literary worth. James: Sorry to make you break out the stick. It was a bit strong on my part.

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  22. "Let's keep a little perspective on the cartoon as lit we're dealing with, eh?"

    This comment is accurate. I love the Barsoom stories, but they are very light reading.

    Sure they were very influential on a pulp genre, but this does not make them great literature.

    But damn if they aren't fun as hell to read.

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  23. My only gripe is that Disney's control means the censoring of the omnipresent nudity of the series. Now that is a crying shame. Damn you, Disney!

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  24. @ Jim: "I have no qualm with anyone who doesn't think it matters, but I do wish people would stop assuming those of us who do care about such things are just unrealistic who need to "keep a little perspective."

    I hope you don't think that's me. It's not a matter of perspective imo, I'm not that dismissive of your opinion.

    I just think people underestimate just how different a novel is from a film. For starters, I am in complete control of a novel.

    I can flip back a chapter if I don't grok something.

    I can experience the story over the course of a day or two sitting on a beach, or I can read one chapter a month, taking a couple of years to finish the story.

    Compare that to a movie, which is time sensitive, and a very SHORT time. Even if I burn right through a novel, I am spending 12-16 hours to finish a long one.

    A movie does not have that time. Things need to simplified, short cuts need to be made. Even the extended editions of LOTR leave out most of the story.

    And when you leave out that much story, well, you pretty much have to make changes. You're building a watch with fewer pieces. It's a different design.

    I think what you dismiss is that film makers don't make changes because they disrespect the source material.

    Peter Jackson clearly wanted ALL of LOTR out there and took a crazy gamble to make it happen.

    He made the changes that would make the story work as a film, in his artistic opinion.

    I'd be willing to bet once we actually see John Carter, that there are changes made to the story too. It's not going to be a literal translation of Princess of Mars.

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  25. I take it "wow" was a reasoned or respectful rejoinder to my thoughts on why it may be a we bit silly to get overly worked up over JC?

    No, it was intended as a written expression of genuine incredulity at a comment that I not only disagreed with (i.e. Barsoom has no literary merit) but that came across as very condescending. You have my apologies if my own response came across as disrespectful.

    The thing is I don't mind sincere disagreement and I don't mind light-hearted ribbing between geeks. We're all passionate about stuff that's, ultimately, pretty silly in the grand scheme of things, after all. I just don't think it's necessary to go beyond that and impugn the motives or taste of those with whom we disagree.

    As I've tried to explain in The Hobbit-related comments, perhaps unsuccessfully, I don't begrudge anyone their enjoyment of Jackson's films but my own criticisms of them aren't irrational or childish. I'm also not without appreciation of the demands of literary adaptation. But I know very well that many of Jackson's changes had less to do with film making and more to do with his own misunderstanding of Tolkien. That annoys me -- but not as much as the notion that I'm just a heartless killjoy who can never be satisfied.

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  26. My only gripe is that Disney's control means the censoring of the omnipresent nudity of the series. Now that is a crying shame. Damn you, Disney!

    That's one of those things I never expected we'd see. I mean, even Frazetta's paintings include more clothing than Burroughs describes.

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  27. "We're all passionate about stuff that's, ultimately, pretty silly in the grand scheme of things, after all. I just don't think it's necessary to go beyond that and impugn the motives or taste of those with whom we disagree."

    Point taken. Re: nudity. I was kidding about that, although an R rating wouldn't have hurt my feelings. Death at the box office, unfortunately.

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  28. "Sure they were very influential on a pulp genre, but this does not make them great literature."

    They're a hundred years old and people are still reading and enjoying them, and authors are still ripping them off frequently. I wish the Great Literary Authors of Today much luck in even approaching that achievement.

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  29. It is rather pathetic that nudity would mean an R/18 rating while killing people isn't regarded as a problem. Military society values strike again, I guess.

    I wish Pixar had driven Disney out of business instead of joining up with them; it would have been a nice day for the Iwerks family if nothing else.

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  30. Nagora said...

    I wish Pixar had driven Disney out of business instead of joining up with them; i

    Actually when it comes to the Pixar/Disney merger, it's more like the tail wagging the dog. When Pixar was thinking of parting ways with Disney (and billions of future profits with it) a deal was met were Disney bought Pixar to the tune of over a seven billion dollars, much of the cash was in the form of Disney stocks and giving Steve Jobs more stock holdings then anybody else allowing him enough control to the point they couldn't tell Pixar what to do, and as a sort of coups de grace, had the reigning CEO Michael Eisner fired after close to twenty years on the job as Jobs vowed not to work with Disney anymore if he was still in charge as Eisner became an adversary of his.

    On side note, it is a bit odd to see the Disney Logo for what is obviously going to be a PG-13 movie. Then again, I think great to see Disney coming back in a big way.
    .

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  31. "It is rather pathetic that nudity would mean an R/18 rating while killing people isn't regarded as a problem. Military society values strike again, I guess."

    Yes and no. First- everyone in the movie theater knows that no one is really being killed. So you have fantasy killing. If folks are naked in the movie though - they are really naked. So you don't have real killing vs real nudity- you have fantasy violence vs. real nudity.

    And the military comment is perhaps a bit off the mark, as well. the anti nudity issue has far more to do with over sensitive puritanical values of North America than it does with a sanction for killing. They, imo, are independent variables. Google up some of the reviews of Kill Bill, or look into some of the anti video game literature if you want to see US society in particualr go completely off the wall bonkers about violence in the media.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm all for nakedness in anything Barsoom related. In fact I want both nakedness and ultra-violence- however, I can sell my wife on allowing me to take our oldest son (who will be 11) to John Carter if it has Sword Fights and junk in it, naked breasts however are a deal breaker (even though I have no problem with it, she is never going to go for it). Maybe she has a point- maybe not. I figure he'll see enough naked breasts in the years to come to make up for it- conversely it is my sincerest hope that all the violence he sees in the eyars to come is on the movie screen.

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  32. Also- You certainly can get an R rating with violence if it crosses a certain threshold.

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  33. "...it is a bit odd to see the Disney Logo for what is obviously going to be a PG-13 movie."

    It doesn't seem at all odd to me. These days, Disney movies are about as likely to be rated PG as they are G. And they've made a few PG-13 movies already:

    Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

    Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

    Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

    Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time

    Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

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  34. They also did that ill-fated murder mystery flick years ago with Bruce Willis as a sex therapist, if I recall correctly.

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  35. @Ed Dove

    These days sure, but if you were a kid in the 70's/80's it's still a bit surprising to see the classic Disney logo connected to a film that's not G rated. I can remember wen it was a big deal that The Black Hole was a PG rated film, and afterwards, the studio decided to release more mature movies through other ancillary devisions like Touchstone pictures and of course later on with Miramax and Dimension. But times change..

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  36. @crowking

    I was a kid all the way back in the '60s. But I've also always been really into Disney parks. So, as a side effect, I've probably ended up more aware than most people of how much everything about Disney has changed. So I can see how all that accumulated change might seem suprising to those who haven't been so constantly aware of it going on.

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  37. Speaking of ending up aware of Disney stuff...

    I just got a Disney Insider email with a link to this:

    Keeping It Real on the Red Planet

    An especially significant section:

    Right off the bat, Andrew wants to get one thing straight – "Nobody's a bigger fan of the books than I am!" He first discovered John Carter at around age 10 through a short-lived Marvel comic-book adaptation, and went on to devour the novels. And he wasn't alone – when the time came to begin work on the script for John Carter, Andrew and his co-adapters, Mark Andrews and Pulitzer-Prize winning novelist Michael Chabon, found that each of them had loved Burroughs' John Carter books. In fact, each had been so obsessed as a boy that he had drawn fan art inspired by the books ... and could bring in the drawings to prove it!

    That said, they all realized that bringing the story to the big screen would involve a lot of adaptation to make a satisfying epic film. "I've always treated [the creative process] like an archaeological dig – stories are out there, and you just have to uncover them," says Andrew. "You don't have a say about when you find a bone, or which bones you're going to find. You have to face the music that you dug up a different dinosaur than you thought, and are you going to have the intestinal fortitude to admit that, instead of forcing it to be what you want. I knew the book so well, and so did Mark and Michael, that we just looked at it in a story analysis. This is the character's arc, and this is where they have to go, so how do you make that work? I didn't let myself look at the book, because I wanted to go 'What's best for this story, this theme, this character line?' But I was shocked that when the script was finished, I'd look back at the book and go 'I thought we came up with that!' All the elements were there."

    Asked whether his 12-year-old self, the one who loved the books and drew the pictures, would like the film, he laughs, "The 12-year-old is so easy to please! It's the nearly 50-year-old that has now seen way too many movies and read way too many books – can I appease that person? I'm always thinking, how can I not exclude anyone? How can I make this satisfying on as many levels as possible?" And the key to that satisfaction? Depth and realism, in both the characters and the world of Barsoom.

    To begin with, a few plot holes have been plugged. While in the books Carter's mysterious journeys to Mars are never fully explained, Andrew assures us that in the film there's a compelling reason why the hero is drawn there – and no, he won't spill beans about what it is!

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  38. "I've always treated [the creative process] like an archaeological dig – ... You have to face the music that you dug up a different dinosaur than you thought,..."

    I read that earlier this week. I had a lot of confidence in Disney's JCoM until I read that article. Sorry Mr. Stanton but I'm at least as big a fan of JCoM as you. (Look at my screen name for crissakes!)

    Archaeologists study the remains of human cultures. Paleontologists study dinosaurs. How does a remark like that get past the editors and fact checkers in the Disney PR machine? Trivial? I suppose it is, but I feel embarrassed for him none the less.

    And then comes the rationalization for not looking at the original book. I can't get a tell on him. Is Stanton a real ERB fan trying to look nonchalant in front of the shallow Hollywood crowd? Or is he just another Hollywood type trying to suck up to the real fans (I'm looking at you JJ Abrams)?

    There better not be a Randy Newman song in this movie or I'll lose it!

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  39. "First- everyone in the movie theater knows that no one is really being killed. So you have fantasy killing. If folks are naked in the movie though - they are really naked. So you don't have real killing vs real nudity- you have fantasy violence vs. real nudity."

    Sure, but since nudity is harmless that's not really an important difference. Implicit in what you're saying is that violence has x amount of danger which is reduced by it being a fantasy while a naked breast has y amount of danger which is obviously not reduced when it's seen. But unless y=0, that's just not the case.

    Not taking an 11-year-old to a movie because there might be naked breasts in it is, to me, a completely baffling concept even before we add the element that depictions of violence with sharp weapons would be acceptable for the same child. That's really pretty messed up.

    As to Disney/Pixar - I think there's a lot of ill-omens about the effect of merging the two. I think Pixar's values have been diluted by the grossly inferior Disney ones and the slew of sequals they're putting out is a sign that the Pixar we knew and loved is probably a thing of the past.

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  40. I'd be willing to bet once we actually see John Carter, that there are changes made to the story too. It's not going to be a literal translation of Princess of Mars.

    I can already tell they've made changes, just from the trailer. It's not changes per se that bug me; it's changes that result in telling a very different story than the source material. That's my big beef with Jackson's LotR: he's told a story very different than Tolkien's, even if the surface details are much the same.

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  41. I read that earlier this week.. I had a lot of confidence in Disney's JCoM until I read that article.

    Yeah, I can't say those quotes make me feel very good either, but then Stanton seems prone to saying goofy stuff like that. It's as if he feels mildly embarrassed by his love for JC, lest anyone not take him seriously or something. I'm hoping that's just a pose, but we'll see. I'm quite prepared to be disappointed by the final result, even if the trailer gives me hope that I won't be.

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  42. "That's my big beef with Jackson's LotR: he's told a story very different than Tolkien's, even if the surface details are much the same."

    That's an interesting take, considering that so many people (including, if I recall correctly, previously yourself) think that Jackson's LotR tells substantially the same story as Tolkien's despite the fact that so many of its surface details are different.


    "... I can't say those quotes make me feel very good either..."

    Whereas, for me, those quotes gave me great hope that Stanton will take Burrough's fun but shallow and unrealistic tale and infuse it with enough depth and realism to make it satisfying to me.

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  43. That's an interesting take, considering that so many people (including, if I recall correctly, previously yourself) think that Jackson's LotR tells substantially the same story as Tolkien's despite the fact that so many of its surface details are different.

    This is one of those cases where I've been lax in my use of language. My position is that Jackson's films have roughly the same plot as Tolkien's novel, but the deeper story -- that is, the meaning -- seems different to me. Unfortunately, I often use "story" and "plot" interchangeably without realizing how confusing this might be.

    shallow and unrealistic tale

    It's about a man who can astrally travel to Mars. I'm not sure how "realistic" one can make that. As for "shallow," I won't argue the point, as there's some truth to it. On the other hand, I tire of every work of art being expected to have "depth," even when it's unwarranted. I'd rather have an honest, fun, escapist take on Barsoom than an overwrought one that tries to find meaning where there is none.

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  44. "It's about a man who can astrally travel to Mars. I'm not sure how 'realistic' one can make that."

    Fantasy & science fiction can be made as realistic as possible in two ways:

    1. Make sure that everything in the story is explained by some consistent principle -- whether it's fantastical, science fictional or real.

    2. Make sure that none of the fantastical or science fictional elements in the story contradict any known reality.

    All good fantasy & science fiction do the first. And all good hard fantasy & science fiction do the second too.

    So I'm hopeful that Stanton will take source material that doesn't do either and make it do the first.

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