Saturday, March 17, 2012

John Carter of Mars was essentially Episodes 1 & 2 remade by Disney



I liked John Carter a lot. I have to think Disney was convinced that it was getting its own version of the Star Wars franchise, but better since it was directed by Andrew Stanton and written by Michael Chabon.

For better or for worse, that's what they got - - a remake of The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones. The hero is an acrobatic swordsman. His love interest is a feisty princess who dresses like Slave Leia. The villain is a Sith Lord. Success depends on the hero gaining the aid of primitive aliens mistrustful of humans. The action takes place half on Tatooine and half on Naboo, and the hero gets from place to place on a jetbike. There's even a gladiator arena battle against mindless giant monsters.

Like the Phantom Menace, the action is exciting (except for a scene of mindless slaughter that's so irrelevant to the plot that I suspect it was added solely to get a PG-13 rating), and the vehicle design is great. Really, everything looks great - - the vehicles, the Martian dog, the tattoos, the rooms in the mansion on Earth... It's also frequently funny.

But also like the Phantom Menace, the villain's complex plot makes little sense and the love scenes are painfully clumsy.

All in all, my whole family and the kids we brought with us liked the movie. It deserves better than to be remembered as a famous failure. (Like Chronicles of Riddick, I look forward to a long life of repeats on tv.)

9 comments:

  1. I'm not 100% certain about the Star Wars analogy, but otherwise I felt the same way about JC. It's too bad the film got such a bad rap - I was thoroughly entertained and felt a visceral rush that I never experience with most Hollywood CGI-fests. Producers and creators shouldn't be expected to recreate the wheel every time they want to make a genre movie (altho many of the ideas in this originated in the books, not in the movies that subsequently pulled from them). We should be grateful that something executed entertainingly and with heart came out of Hollywood this time of year.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I wonder if John Carter will find more traction on Blu-ray in the home market. My understanding is that it is faring much better outside of the North American market so hopefully it can make enough coin that they'd consider a followup at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember reading an article maybe a week or two ago that pointed out one problem that a John Carter film would face was that other popular sci-fi films had borrowed from the Mars books, or had just already coincidentally done scenes that were similar to those in the novel. This was particularly true for visual similarities to the Star Wars prequels, as well as Lucas having been influenced by the Mars novels...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I think that's right. The civil war soldier stuff is the only thing that's unique, and that's easily the weakest, most unnecessary part of the film.

      Delete
  4. I liked it a lot too. There is a Facebook group vying for a sequel with a few thousand members already: https://www.facebook.com/groups/288143804588289/

    ReplyDelete
  5. You should read the John Carter books... Pretty much everything you mention from Star Wars comes from the Edgar Rice Burroughs' Books.

    BTW: love you blog, I drop buy every day. :)

    ReplyDelete
  6. I can dig the Star Wars analogy; though I think in the end I enjoyed JC as an independent piece than the first two Star Wars prequels - which really were (for me at least) enjoyable only because of their association to the larger franchise.

    Overall I agree with you (though I did enjoy the mid-way rumble that explains his family's fate) - in particular the convoluted bad-guy plot. All I was able to decipher was that they pretty much wanted Mars to tear itself apart because they fed on destruction (right?). But it was never clear to me why they were also on earth, or what the blue energy was, or why they couldn't let the princess 'invent' it. Or how having the secondary bad guy marry the princess rather than just tear Barsoom apart would accomplish their goals.

    I also found Taylor Kitsch to be a bit 'eh' at times. I occasionally grew weary of his "I'm always out of breath even when I'm sitting" way of talking - but that's apparently how all bad-asses in media have to grunt now; perhaps we have LOST to thank for that? ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I never cared about his backstory. And the death of his wife was clear the first time he looked meaningfully at his rings.

      More importantly, nothing about the backstory was needed to explain his motivation. His choice was between dying on Mars, letting the utterly evil bad guys win, or helping the sexy scientist/princess and clearly noble city.

      Delete
  7. And were we supposed to be cheering him on as he slaughtered the green guys? Weird scene.

    ReplyDelete