Friday, March 23, 2012

John Carter of Mars - lousy marketing campaign, excellent movie

I had actually read the John Carter of Mars books 30 years ago, so I knew what to expect going in. (Like Tarzan, John Carter was created in the 1920s. I read them in the 1970s)

Unlike the poor schmucks who had only ever seen the commercials. Apparently, Disney spent $100 million on the ad campaign.

And what does the commercial show? The beautiful Dejah Thoris kissing the hunky John Carter? The beautiful Dejah Thoris kicking butt with her sword? The hunky John Carter kicking butt with his sword? The light-sailing, steam-punk like ships? The fight scenes between the two humanoid cities? Any fight scenes between the 10 foot tall, 4-armed Green tharks and humans?


We get John Carter facing this gigantic four armed white ape, we see him jump over it - in a shot similar to 300, ya know that oft-repeated schtick of the minuscule-clad warrior jumping up at full extension with arms raised, in slow motion, to plunge a sword into someone else... - Carter downs the ape with a big ol hunk of rock and then we see him roll his eyes as another ape enters the scene...

And from that echo of Star Wars (remember the beastie Luke Skywalker kills by dropping a gate on it) the movie-going public who has never heard of John Carter of Mars, let alone Edgar Rice Burroughs, is supposed to want to go see this movie?

Why not trade on Edgar Rice Burroughs, author of Tarzan! Is Tarzan to un-pc now that we can't even mention his name?

In any event, if you go to see John Carter of Mars, chances are you'll like it. Yes it's slow in bits and the beginning is confusing, as there's a lot of set-up before Carter even reaches Mars, but if you've read the books you'll understand it, and if you haven't read the books, you'll understand it about 15 minutes into the movie, and the beginning will slot into place and you'll appreciate it in retrospect.

Is it a masterpiece? No. Is it without flaws? No. But it is a very entertaining movie, the culture of Mars - the Tharks and the two warring cities of humans - is shown and indeed is a whole new world... it's just a fun film. Go see it.

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