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Go see John Carter and learn to love again.

The fear is mounting that Disney’s new sci-fi, action adventure, epic-to-be John Carter is about to become a record flop. It should not be. If Transformers is making hundreds of millions of dollars every time out then John Carter should make billions. The problem is not the movie although even I have to admit that a $250 million dollar price tag is excessive. It’s rumored that Disney has spent as much as $100 million dollars promoting it. Yikes. So I’m blaming the movie going audience that has failed to heed the commercials. We have become so jaded and miserable that we simply can’t enjoy anything. (English majors excluded, we know)

For those that don’t know, John Carter is based upon a book published in the year 1917 by Edgar Rice Burroughs. He is the author of the more famous Tarzan books, a property that has been converted into almost fifty movies since 1918. Tarzan has been a mainstay in cinema since movies were silent, but John Carter has remained relatively obscure although there have been traces of his influence strewn across film and comic books with Star Wars being the most obvious beneficiary.

I made it a point to read the book A Princess of Mars before seeing John Carter to see how faithfully it would be adapted. After all, if you can screw up robots that hide as cars then a civil war on Mars could be a whole heck of a lot of cluster fudge. I will say this. The book is not a solid slam dunk, but it has it’s moments and a ton of opportunity to be great. I fully understand why someone would want to make this story into a movie based on potential, besides it’s legendary status as a pioneer in the genre of science fiction.

Immediately I thought the Confederate soldier that is John Carter was problematic in the print version. He is a stereotypical southern gentleman. The book is also littered with race hate towards aliens, particularly the Tharks, who are portrayed as ugly brutes. Even the dog-like, fan-favorite Woola can’t escape the disparity of John Carter. But the movie completely rectified my great fear by making John Carter a cynic instead of a racist. The Civil War burnt him out. He’s not obsessed with etiquette as much as he is concerned with his own welfare. This actually makes the romance better because it is even more unlikely in the movie that he would fall for a Martian princess and therefore more believable. John Carter is basically Han Solo. At first he just wants to get paid. But in the words of Michael Corleone: “every time he’s out, that damn princess pulls him back in.” Or something like that.

So John Carter is a brooding space douche. Why aren’t people lining up? He’s basically you if you were awesome and could jump really high. All I hear in reviews is nonsense like Taylor Kitsch was in Friday Night Lights and was an Abercrombie model. So he was working. That’s good. Then there is the inevitable comparison to the old time “sword and sandal” epics. Cool. I liked those and this one is set in space. Upgrade.

I have to admit that Disney has not really impressed me in the last decade or two, mostly because I got older. With age comes snootiness. But with live action movies like Tron: Legacy and John Carter I’ve begun to remember why I liked Swiss Family Robinson or the original Tron. They are just fun movies. Remember fun? Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (the original) is a great movie. But I don’t want to see someone mercilessly raped and/or murdered every time out. I realize Black Swan is Fight Club for ballerinas. It’s still a downer.

Here’s the formula for John Carter: Dude+Princess+Romance+Space+Action=Movie

If you can’t process this, the child inside you died. Romance in space is also an upgrade. Romance on Earth is usually boring and although it involves battles it doesn’t involve lasers. Basically I’m saying that If you hate John Carter it’s more of an indictment of you being too jaded to remember you used to like space before NASA ruined it with facts.

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  1. Libby says
    2012/03/23, 20:46

    Hardy Har Har. “Brooding Space Douche” is the greatest phrase ever. I would have gone to see this movie if he was played by everyone’s favorite gentleman redneck, Walton Goggins, because I’m a shallow cad.

    Very excited for GI Joe 2, though. Maybe I will have this “fun” you speak of.

    Libby, Queen of the Brooding English Majors

    • Pete says
      2012/03/24, 12:01

      GI Joe 2 might be movie of the year. I’m starting to buy into your philosophy that Walton Goggins makes everything better. Hopefully he will save this atrocity before my childhood completely vanishes.

  2. Libby says
    2012/03/31, 23:21

    What was the Goggins that brought you to the light, my son? Perhaps his death cry of “die space faggot die!” in Predators? Was it that Shane Vendell’s alias in The Shield was “Cletus Van Damme?”? Maybe his merkin in Red Dirt? (seriously, don’t watch Red Dirt, you’ll regret it until the day you die.)

    • Pete says
      2012/04/02, 19:10

      It was his quote about what happens around 5am in Predators. I won’t reprint it here. It was then I realized Goggins might be insane. He’s not at Nick Cage’s level. That’s granted. But he might be on the way…if he buys an island.

      • Libby says
        2012/04/02, 19:34

        Yeah, he kinda goes off the chain there. The line about cocaine is great, the earnest, whistful look in his eyes . . . His bit in the deleted scene is hysterical. He’s the saving grace of that movie. He’s the only one who has an arc. He goes from being totally selfish to sacrificing himself so the others can get away. It’s sort of beautiful.

  3. MB says
    2012/08/20, 16:08

    Finally saw this movie and finally read this review. John Carter is amazing!! I agree with Pete. The movie is soooo much FUN!

    This review also made me realize another reason why I do not like the Star Wars prequels. They are devoid of any fun!

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