Disney's pricey sci-fi actioner "John Carter," adapted from the writings of pulp master Edgar Rice Burroughs, has a tough road to hoe at multiplexes this spring.

In development off-and-on for decades, the 3D extravaganza marks the live-action debut of director Andrew Stanton ("Wall-E") and is rumored to have a budget north of $200 million. With the studio dropping "of Mars" from the title, and releasing a trailer that didn't clarify the film's plot or setting, audiences can be forgiven for not knowing what to expect of the film.

The newly-released featurette (above) helps explain what's happening in the film, and tips its hat to Rice's century-old source material which, as Stanton and co-star Willem DaFoe explain, helped influence science fiction for decades, from "Star Wars" to "Avatar." The featurette also shows off the 3D epic's dazzling visuals, much of which are reminiscent of -- you guessed it -- "Star Wars" and "Avatar." 

The accompanying clip (below) does less to stoke the fires of anticipation. 

The titular hero ("Friday Night Lights" star Taylor Kitsch) is a superpowered Earthling who finds himself in the middle of an epic Martin Civil War. Here, he and his beautiful companion ("Wolverine's" Lynn Collins) run around in front of a greenscreen before jumping from a perilous height onto some sort of boat being navigated by a strange-looking Martian. Other strange, and much scarier, Martians helplessly watch them make their escape. The CG monster-men are led by Mark Strong, who seems to be reprising his deep-voiced baddie from "Robin Hood," "Kick-Ass," and (spoiler alert!) "Green Lantern." Check out "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy" for evidence of his much wider range. For now, watch him discuss tactics with some great big aliens:



"John Carter" opens nationwide in 3D March 9.