VIDEO: John Carter (2012)

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We dig into Joshua’s Movie Madhouse archives (back when it was known as Anarchy at the Movies) for Disney’s underwhelming adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel that inspired countless sci-fi adventure films, John Carter, starring Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins.

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  • Pratchettgaiman

    I’m just glad someone else didn’t have the reaction “not many people saw this movie, therefore it must have sucked” that was way too common a few weeks after it came out. And Lynn Collins was pretty cool as Dejah, I hope to see her in more movies in the future

    • Muthsarah

      If you like Lynn Collins, I would personally recommend “The Merchant of Venice”, a pretty classy adaptation with Pacino in the title role – he’s plenty hammy, but it’s Shakespeare, so it works.  I haven’t seen John Carter, but any actress who can handle the Bard is probably a good choice for the original space opera.  Even if the dialogue is stilted, she could probably sell it, like Alec Guinness sold a very under-written Obi-Wan.

      It’s sad that the movie was probably DOA due to its immense budget and poor name recognition.  I’ve also heard from those in the know that the marketing was done on the cheap, perhaps intentionally (something to do with corporate politics and executive egotism).  Then again, maybe it just looked too much like the two most recent Star Wars movies: giant alien monsters, desert landscapes, big fight scenes, no clear idea what’s going on or why.

      • The inadequately explained bad guys were drawn from follow up books in the series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. If the movie had launched a franchise, they origins and motivations would have been explained in the sequel(s).

      • Pratchettgaiman

        I actually saw A Merchant of Venice a few years ago and I had forgotten that she was in it–I probably would have liked her better had I not found her character of Portia completely loathsome and unlikable

  • Tim Terrell

    You dis people for dissing the movie without seeing it…Then you dis it. I understand why folks aren’t into this type of storyline in an SF film anymore. It’s just not sophisticated enough for today’s audience (the storyline, not the visuals). Doesn’t matter that JC of Mars was first. Like you said, it’s too little, too late. More Watchmen, Dark Knight and Avengers please.

    • Thomas Stockel

       I respectfully disagree.  In a world where Twilight and The Expendables can be major box office hits, movies where the storylines are very, very simplistic, I don’t see that as the reason why this movie failed.  Heck, the new Star Trek movie’s plot was pretty simple.  John Carter failed (in my opinion) for several reasons:

      1) It went over budget, meaning it had no hope of being a financial success.
      2) It had a terrible marketing campaign.  Watch those trailers.  If you did not know already who John Carter was, why would you go?
      3) A bland lead and a weak script.

      This franchise had potential.  The execution from all parties was off.

      • It wouldn’t have done much for items 1 and 3, but a better marketing campaign might have helped. The movie was announced as John Carter of Mars. A couple months before release someone convinced Disney to change the title… to the hopelessly generic John Carter. That doesn’t tell anyone anything. They should have gone the other way and reverted to the original title from the source material and retitled it A Princess of Mars, playing up the biggest strength and focusing on the idea that this was sci-fi/fantasy.

        I think the cheap knock-off starring Traci Lords used that title and they wanted to distance themselves from that. But I still feel that was a mistake. Nobody had heard of that movie. Sure the crappy knock-off might have sold a few DVDs out of confusion, but that would have just helped the Disney movie look better in comparison.

        • Sand Ripper

          Apparently one of the reasons they dropped “of Mars” from the title is because Disney had recently put out the huge bomb Mars Needs Moms and they didn’t want to release another movie with the word “Mars” in the title so soon after that one came out.

  • Thomas Stockel

    Thanks for this.  I grew up reading my Dad’s old Conan paperbacks and he turned me on to John Carter.  So when I heard they were finally(!) making a move I was excited.  And I was underwhelmed.  The lead is boring and I just could not get all that involved in the story.  And why the hell did they give the movie such a bland name?!  It should have been “John Carter, Warlord of Mars” or “John Carter and The Princess of Mars”.  In the first it suggests a kick-ass action flick, in the second there is an appeal to those who like romance.  I guess the title sums up the problem with the film overall in that they aren’t trying very hard.

  • Randolph Quazalpene

    This miss its time date for sure, probably would have done very well in the 90’s era of Xena and Hercules. It make for a pretty good tongue in check swords and laser TV serial to be honest.
    I’d watch this any day over Bayformers, it might have had been way over budget and poorly marketed, but at least it was not outright trying to be offensive to the audiance; though it might have been successful if Tars had decided to take a ____ (insert bay-ism) on carter.

  • James Elfers

    It was better than I expected based upon the opinion of critics. But it still fell way short of what it should or could have been. I think most of the problem was with the lead. Taylor Kitsch is the poor man’s Aston Kutcher . He brings no sense of wonder to the role. In the novels  John Carter starts out amazed and eventually comes to grips with his circumstances. In this movie its like I’m on Mars and 10 minuets later He’s the focus of all activity on Mars. His character undergoes NO GROWTH.  He’s the same non-entity at the end of the movie that he was at the beginning. Burroughs’ John Carter is profoundly changed and expanded by his time on Mars. A military burnout finds new purpose in life and remakes his military experience to new ends. That is a timely angle that would have worked far better than the John Carter in this movie.  Burroughs wrote his novel when there were still a lot of veterans from the Civil War and Spanish American War were still alive. Dealing with them was a problem for American society just as we have problems with veterans of every war since Vietnam. To Burroughs Mars was the perfect canvas for wounded warriors like John Carter to paint themselves anew and better reality.