John Carter Leaps Into Theaters This Week in Science Fiction

Edgar Rice Burroughs' legendary hero hits the big screen. Will he will over moviegoers?

By David Wharton | Updated

John Carter
In theaters Friday 3/9

I went back and forth between choosing this or Mass Effect 3 as our GFR pick of the week. Both properties have me itching to experience them. Both are things I’ve been waiting years for. In the end, however, Mass Effect 3 is a surefire hit, the concluding chapter of one of the most acclaimed game series of its generation. John Carter, however, is a much bigger gamble. The marketing has been hit-or-miss at best at making the movie look appealing. On the other hand, I love Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels, and have faith in Pixar director Andrew Stanton’s ability to pull it off. Early reviews are mostly positive, but I still wonder how many of the general moviegoing public have this movie on their radar at all. That’s why it’s all the more important that fans hit up the opening weekend showings if they can, so that John Carter can build up positive word of mouth — assuming it deserves it. And if it’s disappointing, well, hell, I’d still rather spend my ticket money on a mediocre but ambitious John Carter movie than anything else currently in theaters. People have tossed around plenty of negative comparisons between the early JC footage and the Star Wars prequels, but if John Carter succeeds in the ways I hope it will, it could very well be the movie those films should have been: a big, bold, old-fashioned adventure that transports you back to your childhood and leaves you with a goofy grin on your face.

Alcatraz (Fox, 8/7c) — “The Ames Bros./Sonny Burnett”
Alcatraz is airing back-to-back episodes tonight. In this first ep, two brother convicts who once almost escaped from Alcatraz discover something mysterious when they return to the prison in modern day. The second episode focuses on “a man with an incredible dark side who became ultra-violent during his stint at Alcatraz.” Well, that should certainly make him stand out.

Emperor Mollusk versus The Sinister Brain” by A. Lee Martinez
Texas author Martinez continues to blend the fantastic and the funny with this story of an invertebrate alien mastermind who conquers the Earth…and then wonders what to do next.

A Rising Thunder” by David Weber
Weber continues his acclaimed Honor Harrington military SF series. What is Honor up against this time? According to Amazon:

Peril and strife strike on a double front for Honor Harrington and company. After a brutal attack on the Manticoran home system, Honor Harrington and the Star Kingdom she serves battle back against a new, technologically powerful, and utterly nefarious enemy. And as if that weren’t task enough, Honor must also face down a centuries-old nemesis in the crumbling, but still mighty, Solarian League.

Intruder: Foreigner #13” by C.J. Cherryh
Intruder marks the 13th outing in Cherryh’s Foreigner series, which tells the story of a human starship that becomes stranded in orbit above an alien world, and how the descendents of that voyage make a life for themselves. Via Amazon:

In the wake of civil war, Bren Cameron, the brilliant human diplomat of the alien atevi civilization, has left the capital and sought refuge at his country estate, Najida. But now he is trapped inside Najida — which has been surrounded by enemies — with the powerful grandmother of his ally, Tabiniaiji, atevi leader of the Western Association. Ilisidi, the aiji-dowager, is not inclined to be passive and sends Bren into enemy territory, to the palace of the leader of the rebels.

Mass Effect 3 (Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC)
This is it. The epic SF story that began over four years ago reaches its explosive conclusion in this concluding sequel from Bioware. Dedicated fans have spent that time shaping their own unique version (or versions) of intergalactic badass Commander Shepard, and now the unstoppable synthetic Reapers have arrived to harvest all organic life in the galaxy. To borrow a phrase from another well-known game series, it’s time to “Finish the Fight.” Check back tomorrow for an exclusive feature celebrating Mass Effect 3‘s release!

The River (ABC, 9/8c) — “Doctor Emmet Cole”
With a title like that, you would expect some major plot developments. At the very least, the crew of the Magus discovers Emmet’s camera bag, which contains clues that drive them deeper into the Amazon.

Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman (Science, 10/9c) — “Will We Survive First Contact?”
Freeman lends his mutant narration powers to this rather excellent returning series, this time taking a look at some less-than-optimistic visions of our first contact with an alien species.

wednesday sci-fi

Face Off (Syfy, 10/9c) — “Dinoplasty”
The contestants take a page from Land of the Lost and attempt to create dinosaur-human hybrids.

Prophets of Science Fiction (Science, 10/9c) — “George Lucas”
The show’s first-season finale focuses its lens on one of the most influential, and most controversial, filmmakers of the last fifty years.

Awake (NBC, 10/9c) — “The Little Guy”
This week’s pilot is one of the best I’ve seen in a long time, so I’m thoroughly excited to see where it goes from here. In this episode Britten again finds his cases in each reality beginning to intertwine, and the events surrounding the fateful car accident come into question.

Person of Interest (CBS, 9/8c) — “Baby Blue”
The machine spits out a new POI — a six-month-old baby. Reese goes undercover as a stuffed animal to crack the case. I may have made up part of that.

friday sci-fi

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon Network, 8/7c) — “Brothers”
Darth Maul’s brother, Savage Opress (no, really, that’s his name) believes that Maul may still be alive, and is on a quest to recover him. It’s totally possible. Being halved by a lightsaber is an entirely survivable injury.

saturday sci-fi

An Idiot Abroad (Science, 10/9c) — “Karl Comes Home”
The show reaches its second-season finale. Having been shipped to countless beautiful places and lived through life experiences many would give their left arm for, Karl Pilkington finally gets to go home.

Comic Book Men (AMC, 10/9c) — “Con Gone Wrong”
It’s kind of amazing it took them five episodes to get around to this but: Walt and the guys head to a local con.

The Walking Dead (AMC, 9/8c) — “Better Angels”
I don’t know how to talk about the upcoming episode without spoiling last night’s. Suffice to say, big, bad stuff has happened, and now the survivors have to deal with it.