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July 15, 2024

John Carter: Movie Review

By Bernie and Sand Pilarski

Rated PG-13

Sand said:

I went to see a fun movie the other afternoon.

It was a fantasy, set on the planet Mars. There were four-armed aliens with tusks and attitudes; there were bad guys and good guys and weird-looking animals and awe-inspiring cities. There was a princess, who was not only pretty, but also could hold her own and then some in a fight, and who was also passionate about science. There was a man, burnt out from the carnage of the American Civil War, prospecting for riches in Apache lands, swept away by chance to the arid dusty world of Barsoom, where once again he had to face the harsh hatefulness of bigotry and battle.

The story was as old as any people remember: good people trying to remain good, self-serving evil people trying to wipe them out because just being good isn't profitable or pleasurable enough. All the old stories like that want a hero to come in on the side of good and help defeat the evil that attacks their way of life. The old stories want the hero to unite people, not divide; to be honest and faithful, to his friends, himself, and to his cause; to be victorious and put a broken world to right.

That's the story, that's the movie. If that isn't good enough for you, don't go see John Carter.

If you can buy into that story line, then settle into your movie seat for a two-hours-plus trip to the Red Planet, and enjoy every minute of a different culture and a battered veteran's rebirth.

There were scenes in the movie that made me want to laugh much harder than I felt comfortable with in the full theater -- I know I can be loud -- so I do plan on seeing this film at home in the future and giving full vent to my outburst. John Carter, while not a comedy, seems to recognize that it is a fantasy, and can be light-hearted, and even slapstick at times, without sacrificing its mission to save Dejah Thoris and her vision of what Barsoom could be.

Growing up with Analog, a hard-core science fiction magazine my father subscribed to (until John W. Campbell died and Ben Bova took over as editor) I found Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom stories a bit on the silly side when I read them at 13. I was not incorrect in my assessment, but in 2012, I can see that I was much too critical of fantasy in my wise young age, and that I was far too serious. If I could travel back in time and read over my own shoulder, I'd whisper, "Lighten up. It's just for fun, dimwit."

And likely, that's what I'd hiss at folks who have panned this movie. IT WAS FUN!

Lynn Collins was a fabulous Dejah Thoris. What a refreshing sight to see a warrior-statesman-scientist-princess with nicely-muscled arms and legs instead of sick sticks!

CGI was terrific.

I even liked the dog-like creature that fixated on John Carter, ugly-dog though it was.

Taylor Kitsch ... meh. He was okay, I guess, but the men in loincloths I came to admire over the years were Charlton Heston, Ron Ely, and even Kevin Sorbo. If I was going to see John Carter for the musculature, I think I'd have rather seen the attitudinous ability of Tom Hardy. Kitsch was ... okay, I guess.

John Carter is a fantasy film, so I guess I'll just have to fantasize Tom Hardy with long hair as the unwitting Hero of Mars.

Bernie said:

Well said, Sand. Couldn't agree with you more. This was a good, fun movie. It has, however, gotten a lot of negative hype. One report I read said that it would have to bring in $700 million to break even! While I think this was a good movie, I don't know that it was that good. There just aren't that many movies (45 to be exact according to imdb.com) that have ever made that much money -- forty-five out of the 12 gazillion movies ever made. Those are really long odds to bet against.

Now it could be that the movie makers have enough extra film sitting on the cutting room floor that they can piece together a sequel for about $2.99, and make up the short fall from the first movie. Actually that should have been their plan all along. This movie was a long movie. The story covered a lot of ground. But at over two hours in length, it is a bit difficult for kids to sit through, and you'd think kids should have been a prime target audience. It may well have been far better (and more profitable) as two shorter movies.

Then too, this movie was called John Carter, and it was about John Carter and John Carter's adventures, yet Taylor Kitsch, while not doing a bad job, just didn't bring to the role enough to make me want to like him, and while this is very definitely an effects driven movie, you'd think that John Carter would have stood out a little.

I think that if you were going to make a movie that had to make $700 million to break even, you'd want Johnny Depp in it. For that kind of money, we should have gotten Jack Sparrow of Mars. In fact, Mars would be a logical next venue for the Captain Jack Sparrow. After all, he's already been to the Fountain of Youth and to World's End.

Still, I got my money's worth from this movie even if the moviemakers didn't get theirs.

Article © Bernie and Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2012-03-12
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