Sunday, April 01, 2012
Last Tuesday, I finally got my act together to see the movie John Carter. I really enjoyed it. I didn't have any expectations, other than I just hoped it turned out to be a pretty good adventure story. I read a few of the reviews and media about it when it hit the theaters, which didn't make it sound like it was that great of a film--or the writer would nitpick things here and there. But as time went on, it seemed like if you were a Sci-Fi fan, which I am, you'd probably enjoy it. I was sort of familiar with the first book, and I've got some of the others in the series, but it's been a while since I read it. I'll probably read some of the other ones as well as time allows since after I saw the film, I'm in the mood.
The theater it was playing at was one of those Hollywood theater chains that has about ten theaters all under one roof. It's the first time I'd been to it as it's on the west side of town. At any rate, I got there early enough and found my seat. Actually being a Tuesday it was nearly an empty theater. I loved it as I sat about right in the middle of the screen, speakers, and theater so I was about to be projected into Barsoom.
When the actual movie started rolling I was pretty easily drawn in. Disney did a good job on the film of staying pretty true to the book, or at least capturing the essence and feel of the book, although they'd changed some of the opening framing. So while I watched the story unfold on the screen, I keep thinking to myself: I don't recall this part or this seems different from what I remember. That aside, I think they did a good job because no movie will take the place of the book. Books are too detailed, and they always change things for whatever reason to appeal to a broader audience and those that haven't read the books. I don't have a problem with that as I think just as many people will get interested in the film, and then seek out the books because they got interested. Disney did a great job of getting the look of Mars and the landscape, and incorporating the CG with the live action. I thought the Martians/Tharks were rendered well, though I thought their green skin looked a bit washed out (in my mind they should have been greener). John Carter learning to move around on Mars and learning how to jump and then eventually meeting Tars Tarkus, was just how I pictured it in the book. The scenes with Carter jumping over the landscape was fun to watch, and how the Martians kept referring to him as Virginia, rather than John Carter was a nice theatrical touch as well.
Another good choice they made was the actress who played Dejah Thoris of Helium. She was very attractive and made a good princess. I guess I could nitpick and say that in the movie they had her wear clothing as in the book she's nude, but somehow I don't think that would get by the censor. All in all I don't have much criticism of the film. Overall the feel of the film reminded me of other films that I love. It seem to remind me of the pulp of Indiana Jones, a tad bit of Star Wars in all the aliens and ships and such, and even a tiny bit of Lord of the Rings in some of the scenes. I'd heard a lot of its problems came from Disney's lack of knowing how to market it. Some of that may be true, as I don't remember seeing many trailers on TV and when I did they were pretty unremarkable. Even when you compared the John Carter trailer to the current ones of Wrath of the Titans, to me, the Titans wins that match. I haven't seen that film yet, but all I'm saying is that the trailer of the Titans makes you want to see the film. I think John Carter's main draw was its previous fans and those already somewhat familiar with the franchise, and also a few die hard SF and fantasy fans. So Disney kind of dropped the ball there. I can't imagine someone seeing John Carter and being an action or adventure fan and not enjoying it, which means it should have had good word of mouth. So I'm a bit flummoxed on why it wasn't better received. At any rate, I enjoyed it and plan on adding it to my DVD collection when it comes out. It's too bad that the next two books, The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars (as it was written as a trilogy) probably won't get made. I guess E. R. Burroughs fans can be happy though that at least this one got made, and it turned out so well.