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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Reviewer, Your Ignorance is Showing

It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. Abraham Lincoln

Last week I read a review of a movie that hadn't yet been released. The reviewer hadn't seen it, but he had already made up his mind that it was going to be garbage because he had never heard of the book, the author, and thought the director and main actor were second rate.

What movie you ask? 

John Carter of Mars. (Recently retitled: John Carter)

If this guy had been in whack range I would've slapped him in the back of the head. Is it the new protocol to pan a movie on pure speculation? Whatever happened to making a value judgment on the actual material?

I regret not taking note of this reviewer's name or keeping the link. All I remember is that I read it on MSN.com.

For the record, I love Edgar Rice Burroughs. I love his stories. With all due respect to the authors of today, I miss stories like his. They were high adventure, sexy, and fun. Sure, the narrative is dated. It was written in a different era (even before my time), but the stories are passionate and thrilling.

I have no idea whether Disney will do his book justice, but they have the money to throw at it. (Note: Disney's marketing department dropped the ball on the trailer though. I've seen fan-based trailers of John Carter that were better made.)

But getting back to the reviewer--what really irritated me is when he said the movie was based on a book nobody ever heard of. How completely arrogant and ignorant can you be? 

Even if he hadn't heard of the book, if you're going to write a journalistic review (for money), at least do a little research. Edgar Rice Burroughs isn't just some schmuck.

I seriously doubt I'll watch Hunger Games (it's not the kind of story I like) but I will definitely see John Carter, if only to rekindle a little bit of my youthful fantasies.

It probably won't come close to how I imagined all the beloved characters I grew up reading, but I know I won't pass judgment on it without seeing it first.




Has anyone out there read Edgar Rice Burroughs? Do you plan to see the movie?

In other news:
Remember Dimensions, that indie film I told you about last week? I just heard from Ant Neely that it WON the Gort Award for Best Festival Film for 2012. I really hope it gets released nationally. Here's a picture of Mr. Neely's wife, Sloan U'Ren, the director of Dimensions with their award.

I am so happy for them. Congratulations to the Dimensions creators! 


43 comments:

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Oh hell YES! Looks like my kind of film. Puts me in mind of a mix of 'Star Gate' (the original film), 'Cowboys and Aliens' and a touch of 'Clash of the Titans/Conan'.

But then, I am a lover of sci fi and fantasy. Thank you for putting that clip up for us to watch.

Found you on Claudia's tagged list, so I thought I'd pop by and say 'hello' to my fellow bloggers on the list :)

Look forward to reading more from your blog :)

Shirley Wells said...

Based on a book nobody ever heard of??? If the journalist hadn't heard of it, you would think/hope he'd do the research. Edgar Rice Burroughs was a superb storyteller. Superb!

I shall definitely catch the film. I saw the trailer at the cinema last night and it looked good on the big screen.

Angelina Rain said...

That is the reason why I avoid reviews. Some people feel they are entitled to their opinion and they go around speaking crap because of it. Clearly that is this reviewer.

I'll admit, I've never heard of that book and that movie, and it doesn't sound like my cup of tea so I will most likely not be seeing it. However, I'm not going to trash this as I've never read the book or seen this movie. Actually, from my experience, if the movie is based on the book, it was a great book. They don't make movies out of bad books. Out of all the books out there, they chose this one to base the movie on so clearly this book had to have something that appealed to them.

Ignorant reviewers ignore me. The way I see it, is if you have no idea what you're talking about, then it's best not to talk at all.

Maria Zannini said...

Mark: Welcome. It's hard to say which direction Disney will take. I'm just happy they made the movie.

***
Shirley: I was just appalled at his lack of research. His review appeared on a major web site. The comment stream I saw after his column really put him in his place though. :)

***
Angelina: You touched on an excellent point. They don't make movies out of bad books.

...but sometimes they make bad movies out of good books. I hope that won't be the case here. I'll wait and see.

Raelyn Barclay said...

I've heard of the author but haven't read any of his works...yet. And I'm so out of touch movie-wise, LOL. I didn't know about the movie but the trailer looks interesting enough I'll probably watch it.

What a ding-bat reviewer.

Huge congrats to the Dimensions folks! That's so exciting and I'll be watching for it...so want to see it.

Linda Leszczuk said...

Has this yahoo reviewer ever heard of Tarzan?

Maria Zannini said...

Raelyn: I was so happy for Ant and Sloan. They worked so hard on that movie and it's obviously a quality piece of work. I'm hoping it'll show up in Dallas. I'll make the drive.

Linda: I know! Right! I realize Burroughs was a long time ago for most people, but he left behind some iconic figures.

Marian Perera said...

The film doesn't sound like my cup of tea either, so I won't be watching it, but as someone who has trashed both books and films, I can truthfully say I've stuck it out to the bitter end in all cases.

I think it's fine to be skeptical... for instance, if I heard that Steven Seagal was playing Father Ralph in a movie of "The Thorn Birds", I'd be cringing in advance. But I still wouldn't pan the film until I'd seen it. And, um, never having heard of John Carter and Deja Thoris? That reflects on the reviewer rather than the book.

Maria Zannini said...

Marian: Exactly. You can't be well versed in everything, but if you're paid for a journalistic review, at least do your homework.

Dee said...

I've seen this phenomenon in book reviews, as well, though by fans, not by professional reviewers. I just don't get it. How can you review something you haven't seen/read??? Your comment about ignorance is spot on!

DRC said...

I can't understand how someone can leave a review of something they've never heard of or seen. Jeez! And more fool the people who go by what he says!

I'm looking forward to the film. I've seen the trailer and reckon I'll enjoy it. I don't listen to reviews. I prefer to see it and make my own mind up whether I enjoyed it or not. I'm easily pleased when it comes to films

KarenG said...

Which is why people are going to the internet and blogs to get their input and reviews on both books and movies. Many of the so-called professionals aren't really all that professional, or helpful.

Margo Benson said...

The reveiwer will probably have been verbally battered into next week as all the fans will have taken to twitter and email! Rightly so.

Heather said...

News flash for this fella, you are NOT supposed to judge a book by its cover. I've read a few of the John Carter books (a loooong time ago) and I enjoyed them. I'm really looking forward to this movie!

Mike Keyton said...

Everyone seems to be of the same mind - not so much the bad manners of prejudging, but the sheer ignorance - and that's frightening. Talk about a disposable culture/history. It will be interesting to see if it's made, for want of a better word 'seriously', or with tongue firmly in cheek aka Flash Gordon. Made well it could be a surprise winner, which would mean a lot of egg on somebody's face, and quite often film can bring to life a good story but with now dated prose.

Maria Zannini said...

Dee: This is the reason Goodreads has started to lose its luster. I've started noticing readers ranking and reviewing books that haven't even been released yet. What's up with that?

***
DRC: To be fair, I should've been a better reporter and kept the link. I was going to leave a comment on that article, but I was running late for an appointment and closed my browser. It just kept bothering me this guy got on a big site and was able to pass this off as a professional opinion.

***
KarenG: Sad, but true. The only recommendations I trust implicitly now come from friends who have the same tastes as I do.

***
Margo: I wish I had the foresight to have left a comment on that site, at least I would've had a link back to post here. The dozen or so comments I read really let him have it though.

Maria Zannini said...

Heather: I'm hoping this was his first job and he's only 20 years old. That's the only way I can forgive him.

Mike: The first Barsoom book was written in 1912. That was a long time ago. But this is a classic. It's one of the foundations for all the SF and fantasy fiction that came after it. Any film critic worth his salt should know this.

I agree with you. It's frightening how quickly we forget.

Sarah Raplee said...

Opinions are a dime a dozen. That a self-proclaimed reviewer would make comments like these is priceless. Excuse me while I laugh myself into exhaustion!

The film makers couldn't have asked for better publicity for a film based on a classic book many young people haven't read. This incompetent reviewer has boosted buzz!

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I've read some ERB, but it was a long time ago, mostly Tarzan stuff. I will probably go see the movie, tho, because I just love SF that much. ^_^

Maria Zannini said...

SaraH: You might have a point. The people who commented on his article were outraged. Only one person (when I read the article) sided with him.

Barbara: You know, I've never read Tarzan. But I couldn't get enough of Barsoom.

...and aren't you supposed to be in bed recovering.
:wags finger at Barbara:

Angela Brown said...

I haven't read the John Carter stories but I do plan to see the movie...and plan to see The Hunger Games. Both are right up my alley,

Good on you to remind the world that not only is bad to judge people before you get to know anything about the individual, it's equally ignorant to pass judgement on a movie one hasn't even seen. Seriously, Maria, the reviewer hasn't even seen the movie? What the sam-hell were they reviewing? Their own imagination-on-a-stick?

I passed no judgement on Twilight until I read it. Then I applauded Stephenie Meyer for being so lucky to have filled a vampire love story vacuum at the right time and being able to ride that book all the way to the bank. If I went into the writing, I'd be here a while upsetting some folks who probably loved the book. But for heaven's sake, judging this movie on speculation only had to be the stupidest move (note I didn't say the reviewer is stupid as tempting as it is lol!!!) If you ever do get to remember the name, please let me know. I'll make sure to ignore whatever else they decide to "speculate" upon.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Hunger Games was too dark and depressing for me. I hadn't read the Twilight series, but I was upset with the naysayers who booed Meyer's writing.

More than a few people must've liked the story or she wouldn't have been as successful as she was.

Sometimes I think people aren't happy unless they can say something nasty.

The Happy Whisk said...

Whack range ... hahahaha. I love it.

jackie b central texas said...

ERB was a childhood favorite of mine Maria, his work introduced me to the world of Tarzan as well as John Carter and am planning on seeing the movie if have to go alone to it!
Cool news on Dimensions, you are now a part of it's early promoters and should be proud.

Not sure why people think it is okay to trash things they know nothing about, sadly it will not be the last time someone has the nerve to do so either.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Wait wait wait. You're not going to see hunger games?! NOOOOOO!
Seriously though, people are asshats. I always doublecheck myself before i ever make a factual statment on the interwebs, so i don't come off looking like an ass.
I hope John Carter is good. Crossing my fingers for it

Maria Zannini said...

Happy Whisk: The world would be a saner place if there were more whacks to the head.

Jackie: You said it. It won't be the last time. It's just sad it's come to that.
Ref: Dimensions
Wasn't that great? I am so happy for them.

Sarah: Ref: Hunger Games
It was soooo depressing! I can take some depressing stories in books, but not at the movies.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

It only proves anyone can be a reviewer. Smuchs like that guy really help me value the reviewers who know what they're talking about. I hope to see John Carter.

Dru said...

I saw the movie in preview...not my kind of movie but who hasn't heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs? If he hasn't he must not have watch Saturday TV with all the Tarzan movies being shown.

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: I'd sure like to know how he got that job. If it's that easy, I'd apply. ;-)

Dru: It's got to be people under 30. ERB was too ingrained into our culture before then.

Shelley Munro said...

I haven't heard any publicity about the movie down this end of the world yet, but that doesn't mean anything. Sometimes all the hype leads to a disappointing experience while movies that go under the radar a little turn out to be ones I watch again and again.

Jennifer Shirk said...

No, I hadn't read any of his books. But I would definitely see the movie. :)
The Hunger Games isn't my cuppa either.
And that's great about Dimensions!

broken biro said...

Here here! When I worked at a local weekly paper I always had to write reviews of films I hadn't seen - we had a deal with the cinema we'd promote new films coming but they weren't shown until the day we went to press. So I just gave the facts (spiced up a bit with some of my own trademark puns!) - I don't know who these reviewers think they are sometimes - they forget people's reputations are at stake.

Maria Zannini said...

Shelley: I guess even bogus bad publicity helps in the long run.

Jennifer: I think Dimensions' success is well deserved.

Broken Biro: We live in an ephemeral world. I don't think people worry about their reps anymore. They can always reemerge somewhere else down the line forgiven.

Maria Zannini said...

I can't believe it but my internet provider called to let me know that they were taking their tower offline. At least I have a little head's up. If I don't get around to your blogs, this is why. :)

Nadja Notariani said...

I've never heard of an internet provider doing that before! Maybe they are going out of business? What about satellite internet? My brother has it and is relatively satisfied.

Maria Zannini said...

Nadja: Nah. They are upgrading their equipment. But at least they told me ahead of time.

Kim said...

This is so sad, but whenever I hear about John Carter, I automatically think of the character from ER. I've never read anything by Edgar Rice Burroughs, although I did see Disney's Tarzan.

John Carter doesn't look like something I'd want to sit through in a theater, but I'd certainly make sure I'd seen it before I attempted to review it. Yeesh.

The Happy Whisk said...

I agree with you. Hope you have a great weekend and Happy Writing.

Boogie, boogie.

Suzanne Brandyn said...

I can't imagine reviewing anything unless I have read it or seen it. I love and agree with Abraham Lincolns words.

Happy writing :)

Misha Gericke said...

Yeah nothing annoys me as much as people being critical of anything just for the sake of it.

It's as if they see the word "critic" in their job description and decide never to do anything else.

Cate Masters said...

Very cool news about Dimensions - I love to see indies succeed.
Surprising that reviewers can "review" a movie without having seen it. Makes me think he won't be a reviewer for long.

Maria Zannini said...

Kim: Well, Edgar Rice Burroughs was a long time ago. I think it's great that Disney is at least trying to reintroduce classic SFF.

Suzanne: That was always one of my more favorite quotes.

Misha: You might have something there about the title of critic. Maybe he doesn't understand the job description. ;)

Cate: If the trailer can tell a story, I am not surprised in the least they won.

Curmudgeon said...

If it wasn't for John Carter and Tarzan, I never would have learned to read. Yes, I'm old. I can't imagine someone not knowing who Edgar Rice Burroughs was. That's like not knowing who Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was.