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Monday, March 12, 2012

John Carter: Mini Movie Review

I walked into the movie theater with trepidation, haunted by all the naysayers and negative (early) reviews. Now all I can say is: I want to see this movie AGAIN.

John Carter is the film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' story, Princess of Mars. The film took some creative license, giving Carter a more in depth back story, making Dejah Thoris (the princess of Mars) a scientist, and updating the story with a singular bad guy and transportation device. All these things were not in the original story, but I think the adaptations were probably necessary for today's audience.

If I can give any bad marks to John Carter, it's that the first 15 minutes rambled too much. It tried too hard to get everyone up to speed on the players. It also lingered too long on Carter's back story. I was getting a little nervous sitting through the beginning, hoping the movie would straighten out soon. It did.

Once John Carter was transported to Barsoom (Mars) he is your typical disoriented stranger who discovers he can jump great distances and has enormous strength. The Tharks (green-skinned, 4-armed Barsoomians) find him first. 

Getting a glimpse into the Tharks' austere culture flooded me with great emotion and fond memories of when I first read the Barsoom books. The people John Carter meets and the relationships he forms is what I loved most about the stories. The Tharks are brutal and violent people, but they're also very brave and honorable. 

In the meantime we are introduced to the Red people and the Blue people of Barsoom and learn that the Thurns (an entity created as the sole bad guy) are manipulating the population so that they can feed off the planet. In the original books when Carter encounters the four races of Barsoom, it's he who unites them to end the fighting. The movie takes a short cut by creating the Thurns.

John Carter should be a steampunk lover's dream. It's the world as seen through the eyes of a real 19th century writer, complete with all the "modern" embellishments of that era. Dog lovers will love the calot, the Barsoomian 'dog', He steals every scene he's in. The love story is a little lukewarm compared to the lustier version I remembered from the original story, but I didn't mind. It was like coming home to the science fiction I loved.

That's all I'll tell you about the story. Be patient for the first 15 minutes, then you'll be rewarded by one of the granddaddies of science fiction story telling.

By the way, if you stay to the credits, you'll see a very touching tribute to Steve Jobs.

I don't buy many videos anymore, but I'm buying this one the moment it's out.

Previews: While at the movies, I caught the trailers for the new movies coming out. I was surprised at "Hunger Games". It reminded me a little bit of "The Running Man" (but with better actors) with its gaudy tv reality show backdrop. Another movie, "Lockout" seems to be an updated remake of "Escape from New York".

"Battleship" looks good though with Liam Neeson (in a secondary role). And "Mirror, Mirror" with Julia Roberts looks like fun. "The Avengers"? Meh. We'll wait and see.

What are you anxious to see?


Jennifer Shirk said...

Mirror Mirror does look fun! Every time I see a commerical for it I have to stop and watch it.

Maria Zannini said...

Jennifer: I know! It really looks like Julia Roberts had fun with this role too. I'm not a big fan of fairy tale movies, but I think I'll see this one.

Mark. K. aka - EvilDM said...

Interesting review. Amazing how reviews vary greatly from one person to the next? Sometimes I think certain reviewers forget to be objective and become too personal about the film in question.

Personally, I'm looking forward to seeing this film, so thanks for the review :)
PS: Maria, you're showing your age - it's all DVD now, no more video ;)

Maria Zannini said...

Mark: ROTFL! You're lucky I didn't say 8mm film.
I hope you like the movie as much as I did. I'll be interested in reading your take on it.

Tracy Jo said...

I really want to see this and seems like one of those that you should see in a theater. I am terrible about getting to movies though. :-) Thanks for a great review!

L.G.Smith said...

I'd never heard of John Carter before the movie hit the theaters. I was really surprised to find out it was written by ERB. I don't think many people have heard of it. I know it didn't do too well money-wise at the theater this weekend, but everyone I know who saw it seemed to really like it. I'll have to check it out.

K.T. Hanna said...

Oh that's great! My husband and I really wanted to go see this, but weren't quite sure. Thank you for this review. I think we might go now :D

Maria Zannini said...

Tracy Jo: Probably better in the theater, but since it's mostly desert if you've seen one sand dune, you've seen them all. :)

LG: If my sources are to be believed John Carter is one of the longest optioned films in Hollywood, spanning 80 years.

KT: Hubby and I discussed it at length, especially since we'd both read the books.

Dan O. said...

Despite occasional moments of silliness, the old-fashioned sense of adventure and brilliantly rendered aliens elevate this above other derivative big-budget sci-fi fare. I still wished that Kitsch did a lot better in this lead role but he was only there for eye-candy really. Good review. What also stinks is that this flick probably won’t make back any of its 250 million dollar budget. Give my review a look when you can.

Melissa McClone said...

Hunger Games comes out on my daughter's birthday so I already have six tickets for her, her friends, brother and me.

Me? I'm looking forward to Snow White and the Huntsman!

John Carter looks interesting. Thanks for the review.

Sarah Ahiers said...

Well, i'm pretty much having nerdgasms over the Avengers. But then, i've ben reading marvel comics since i learned to read, so that's expected. I'm super pumped for Hunger Games, natch.
You're the second blogger today who's said John Carter is worth seeing in theaters. I wish i had the time to check it out, but i'll probably end up having to wait until it comes out on DVD

Raelyn Barclay said...

I put this down on my to watch list after you talked about it. So glad it lived up to your love of the books. Great review Maria!

I hardly ever get out to the movies so I'm terrible about what's out, what's coming, or what's on DVD, LOL. I have seen a few ads for Mirror, Mirror which look like fun and I've added it to my list :)

Kimberlee Turley said...

My concern is it reminds me of AVATAR, which I didn't really enjoy. Of course, since my husband is dying to see this, I'll likely end up going with him.

Ted Cross said...

Yeah, Hunger Games always reminded me of The Running Man. It'll be awhile before I can see John Carter, and it's been about thirty years since I read the books.

Maria Zannini said...

Dan: I'll stop by later tonight. I agree Kitsch was cast more for his eye candy appeal. He was a little lower-key than I would've liked. The novel makes John Carter bigger than life, whereas the film seemed to cast him as 'every man'.

Melissa: What a nice birthday present. I'm looking forward to reading your review on it. I saw a tiny snippet of SN and the Huntsman. It looked intriguing.

Sarah: I want to like the Avengers. It's giving me pause because the past movies have been hit or miss. Loved Captain America, but The Lantern sucked lemons.

Raelyn: I hope you enjoy it. I think people under 30 or those who haven't read the books won't like it as much as the rest of us. But I deeply enjoyed it and wanted to revisit it. (something that rarely happens for me.)

Kimberlee: I read a review where the reviewer angrily called John Carter plagiary because it "copied" the tall aliens--never realizing Burroughs had invented these aliens in 1912. I honestly don't see the similarities to Avatar. Totally different movies.

Ted: I was a little surprised. I didn't think Hollywood would go that route, but maybe they thought that's what would appeal to the widest audience.

Ellie Garratt said...

Despite all the negative reviews here in the UK, I'm hopefully seeing John Carter tomorrow. If not, definitely next Sunday. This as been on my must-see list for quite a while!

Glad you enjoyed it.

Dru said...

Thanks for the review. I don't think there's any movie I'm eager to see.

Anna Soliveres said...

Hi Maria,
Great blog! I'm excited to see John Carter (just have to make time for it). Thanks for the review. Just added myself as a follower. Will definitely visit again.

Anna Soliveres

Maria Zannini said...

Ellie: I honestly don't get the negative reviews. It's as if these people were paying attention to the movie. Or maybe they were expecting Avatar. Instead they're required to actually think.

Dru: I feel sated. Anything else is gravy.

Anna: Nice to meet you! I've added your blog to GFC and my reader as well.

Dee said...

Never read these stories, but just found that the first 3 are free for Kindle on Amazon. Yay for free classics! Nice to know you liked the movie. If we don't make it to the theater, we'll definitely watch it on pay-per-view when it comes out.

James Garcia Jr. said...

The Avengers! *laughs* Seriously! I grew up with those comics, so I have that tie in.
Hi, Maria. Thanks for stopping by the blog this morning and for your great advice.
Actually, last night I saw the trailer for something that might be good. It is called "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen". It stars Ewan McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas. My wife just shook her head as I started fawning over it already.


Stacy McKitrick said...

My daughter & I have tickets for the midnight showing of "Hunger Games". I loved the books and lent them to her, and she gobbled them up, too.

I'm also looking forward to "The Avengers", but I don't think The Lantern is in that. Of the four(?) movies, I liked the Hulk the least.

I'm not so sure about "Mirror, Mirror" but I definintely want to see "Snow White and the Huntsman".

Lots of movies on my radar (for a change). We'll see how many I actually make it to.

Glad you liked "John Carter" (it's nice when a movie you've been wanting to see turns out good - for you anyway). I may give it a try, even though I never read the stories.

Kaye Manro said...

I can't wait to see John Carter! Thank you so much for this review. Looking forward to seeing the 'the giant aliens' which are dear to my heart too.

Angela Brown said...

I hope to catch John Carter soon. Thanks for the heads up about the first 15 minutes.

I want to see The Hunger Games. I try to keep an eye out for kid-friendly things, but knowing my daughter, she's going to want to watch The Avengers because she loved Iron Man.

Maria Zannini said...

Dee: As long as you read them with the era they were written in mind, you'll probably enjoy them.

Jimmy: I'd never heard of that movie. I'll have to look it up on IMDB. Thanks.

Stacy: They have a good line up of movies this year. It's been kind of poor for the last few years, so it's a welcomed change.

Kaye: I LOVE the Tharks. I can still recite some of the dialog. I hope you get to see the movie soon.

Maria Zannini said...

Angela: Ironman? How old is she?! LOL.

I think Snow White is going to be a good kid's movie, but if she likes Ironman, it might be too tame for her. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Glad to read a good review for John Carter because I want to see it and the reviews had almost talked me out of it.
My daughter wants me to see the Hunger Games so I'll probably go. My son will drag me to The Avengers.

Barbara Ann Wright said...

I'm going to see The Hunger Games, but I'm anxious to see how true they are to the spirit of the books.

Shelley Munro said...

John Carter is on at our local theatre at the moment. I don't go to many movies, but maybe I'll treat myself.

Darke Conteur said...

I want to see John Carter as well. It was the first scifi novel I ever read, back in high school. I don't listen to critics any more. Personally, I don't think any of them have the right credentials to review movies.

Southpaw said...

Another good review! I can't wait to see this one myself.

Nadja Notariani said...

It's already out, but I want to see Chronicle. My oldest son went with friends and he said it was very good. I don't go to the movies...I wait until I can get it on NetFlix or something. I'm

Maria Zannini said...

Susan: Pay no attention to the reviewers.

Barbara: Seeing how close movies get to the books is one of my favorite party games. Sometimes our discussions get lively.

Shelley: If you like old fashioned SF, you'll like this.

Southpaw: It's definitely one I'd watch again.

Nadja: I don't think I know what Chronicle is. Off to look it up.

Darke: I think John Carter was one of my early reads. It inspired me, even if the narrative was dated.