Finally got to see John Carter last night. I LOVE it. Screw the “critics”, it’s an excellent entertaining movie that you can enjoy and not worry about. A modern viewer may not see it as original but it was the first of its kind and everyone has borrowed from it. And face it, no story is original anymore. It depends on execution, not if you came up with a new variant on “man vs man, man vs nature, man vs himself”. And this execution is just about flawless. It is what it is, a great pulp story that has characters you care about, and goreous things to see. Give me this over saccharin tedium like the “The Help” or “Steel Magnolias” anytime.
As for age appropriateness, I’d put it at about 8 years old. I would have had no problems with it earlier but I was reading crazy early and already knew that people died in stories. Except for John Carter’s, all the blood is blue.
When courting me, my husband lured me with books (and gaming, but that’s another story). He lent me a lot of them, mostly sword and sorcery or pulp (oh and Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas, happily I had already found Hunter S. Thompson or I probably would have thought he was nuts). I loved most of them but it took me another 10 years to finally get into Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter books. I had read the first Tarzan book when I was probably 12 or so, and enjoyed it but John Carter was a lot tougher to like for some reason. Read it here if you’d like.
But I do like it and the movie does indeed do the series justice. The movie is more of a combination of “A Princess of Mars” and “Gods of Mars”, but it hits the right marks. We have the requisite “planetary romance” plot points of “hero, monster and lovely woman end up at the same place and time on a planet”. Disney has released the first ten mintues of the movie . This does a lovely job of establishing who John Carter is: stubborn, honorable, a damn good fighter, and a man desperately tired of war.
Now for some spoilers under the cut
First, I want a Woola. Disney, you merchandise every movie to death, you not love my Woola?
I love what they did with Dejah Thoris. A princess but also a top scientist, a warrior and a noble leader of her people. She has no problem in trying to manipulate John to help her. She wasn’t all of these in the book. Remember, it was written in 1917, but she still was no shrinking violet. ERB, for his time, wrote capable females.
The funniest moment I recall is having John Carter, Woola and Sola on a flyer. Can John Carter fly it? Well, not really. Having played various RPGs, that’s a classic move that the players would probably come up with. As “perfect” as many ERB heroes can seem, they all have their flaws and they can crash an airship with the best of them. Tarzan was felled by enough breaking branches. And John Carter screws up more than once in the movie.
Therns are great bad guys. And the last scenes are extremely well done, allowing a neat wrap up but a promise of sequels. Disney, I want these, at least one more back on Barsoom and maybe one on earth…..
The directing was also great. Not ever single move by the dramatis personae needed to be shown. Plenty of things happened off camera to leave a suitably excellent pulp “rescue at the last minute” scene to be played out.
It is a gorgeous movie, costumes, CGI and scenery. Go look at the links above for the movie and see the stills. I want to live in Helium.