Thursday, March 1, 2012

JOHN CARTER - An "I saw that" Review

This week I had the opportunity to see an advance screening of John Carter (formerly “of Mars” until Mars Needs Mom ruined the title).  It’s been ages since I managed to score attendance to any sort of early showing of a new movie.  The last two I can remember were Dawn of the Dead and Open Water.  One is one of my all time favorite horror movies and the other was a novel idea that resulted in a somewhat decent if overall bland movie.

As for John Carter…and I’ll keep this spoiler free…

I went into the movie knowing nothing of the character or the concept beyond the fact that the original stories were written by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame) and centered around an Earth man who winds up on Mars.  The movie clocked in a tad over two hours and I can confidently report that I had a fun time and was treated to an original sci-fi outing.  There’s far more set-up than I was expecting as in the first fifteen minutes we planet-jump and time jump several times until we firmly begin on Earth in 1866.  Through an interesting (and not fully explained) concept a former Union soldier finds himself teleported to Mars, where thanks to the lesser gravity he is gifted with powerful limbs that allow him superior strength and the ability to leap vast distances in single bounds.  Quite quickly he finds himself mired in the war between various factions on Mars, some that look human and others that look…Martian.

The movie plays so loose with actual science that I doubt the Myth Busters will ever be called into question to disprove anything that is portrayed on screen.  While some may scoff, I find myself having a fun time and embracing the “pulpy” vibe that was unfolding in front of me.  The CGI and visuals do harken to the Star Wars prequel movies…but since the source material was written 80-100 years before Star Wars…who was paying homage to whom?  Still, John Carter has time on Mars to learn the language and customs, to attempt a return to Earth (or Vasoom), to save a princess (and she is an incredible hottie), to form alliances with an alien species, to acquire a pet, to battle giant monsters in an arena, and to play a role in some large scale sci-fi battles.

I had a fun time at the movie.  In fact, I enjoyed John Carter enough to immediately come home and purchase a collection of the stories on my Kindle.  There’s an appreciation I have for unique science fiction that isn’t grounded in reality.  Of course, not everyone shares that love.  The audience I saw the movie with seemed split.  Some were along for the ride and others had the look of, “Is this movie over yet?” and “Why am I here?”  So I can easily see John Carter failing at the box office.  Luckily, in my age, I know longer feel the need to have box office success or love of the masses to determine a good movie from a bad.  Disney certainly hasn’t helped matters with their atrocious marketing campaign so it’s easy to see John Carter eventually holding ranks on my DVD shelves next to Flash Gordon, fun under-appreciated neighbors that would make an excellent double feature!

If my blog were more heavily trafficked by the movie studios looking for quotes then mine would be...

"JOHN CARTER is MARSvelous!" -

Grade = A-

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