Agenda Movie Club: John Carter

John Carter

Andrew Stanton


Look, maybe I didn’t say every single little tiny syllable, no. But basically, I said ’em, yeah.

So, I learn that John Carter grossed about $30 million dollars last weekend, which isn’t terrible, except that it apparently cost $250 million, was expected to launch a major franchise, and came in second to an animated movie in its second weekend. I’ve seen the name Ishtar thrown around.

This is too bad, because the movie isn’t nearly bad enough to be seen as an historical bomb. Honestly, I don’t think it’s that bad at all. And with everything that comes with overseas sales (I assume big action movies play better in other countries than, say, dramas) and home video sales, etc., it’ll probably be fine, financially. It’s not exactly great, but it’s fun enough, and I think even more fun for people who are either young (like, kids) or old enough to be familiar with the books.

JP loved the books when he was a kid (he says Dejah Thoris was the ideal woman when he was nine) and so he was excited to see this, and I think had a good time. He said it reminded him of Flash Gordon– which Michael Wilmington points out was, itself, a complete ripoff of the original John Carter (I would have gone with Army of Darkness, and did, multiple times during the movie– but that’s its own ripoff of dozens of other things, so there we are). In fact, go read that entire Wilmington review, I think it has a lot of good things to say about this movie and John Carter’s place in history.

Pretty much all movies with a ton of CGI are basically cartoons (or they look that way to me), and this one is no different. But the action is big, and there are some pretty impressive CGI creations (the entire Thark race, really, and definitely the white apes, which are like humongous berserkers), and it’s just kind of neat, you know?

The problems are two, and they’re not small problems. The first is Taylor Kitsch. I kinda just didn’t feel like there was any there, there. He has muscles, assuming those were real and not 300-ed in.

The other problem is strange, considering the movie’s pedigree– there’s just no real heart (I think Wilmington gets at this, too, or if not him, someone else I read). This is strange because at least some part of the movie was written by Michael Chabon. And if there’s anything that Chabon is really, really good at, it’s taking genre fiction and giving it some real feeling. Heart. But that’s not here. I find myself wondering which parts Chabon wrote (or was responsible for… it’s possible nothing he actually “wrote” ended up in the movie, but maybe some devices or scenarios he came up with did). I want to say maybe he had something to do with the Edgar Rice Burroughs character. But I have no idea.

But anyway, it’s not boring, and even if it’s not exceptional it’s still a decent time. And big.

I saw the movie in 2-D. (Or, as our local theater says, “NOT 3-D!!!”)

Update: I don’t think I can overstate how much some people love these books. I had a professor in college who was named after John Carter. For a certain part of the population, these books were a really, really big deal.

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2 Responses to Agenda Movie Club: John Carter

  1. Unka Joe says:

    Dejah Thoris is also the Belgian Witch of Marwencol.

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