I just watched John Carter of Mars on BluRay. This is the second time I’ve seen it, the first being when I was deployed to Afghanistan. It was something of a shock to me, because I heard it did terribly, yet when I watched it I thought it was pretty epic. The casting was great, the relutant hero and conniving villain were entertaining, and the characters were well defined. Yes, the main character jumps around like a grasshopper on PCP. The movie isn’t spot on science… but it’s fun, exciting, and epic, something you don’t see a lot of anymore… so why did it flop?
I did a bit of research, after watching it again. There were a number of problems, I think. Bad marketing, for one. I watched a few trailers, and it looked like they just didn’t know how to market it… was it action? Was it comedy? Or was it science fiction? The next issue was that they made some changes to the original books. It looks like a lot of the Edgar Rice Burroughs fans are die-hard fanatical types… which isn’t bad, but Disney didn’t try to win them over, they just made the movie and assumed people would love it. It looks like there’s a lot of backlash in the reviews from long-time fans of the John Carter series. It also received some rather harsh reviews from critics, mostly, it seems, because it was too whimsical and fantastical. Then again, who really listens to the critics any more about a fun movie?
Anyway, back to the movie. John Carter, disillusioned from the war (Civil War) goes searching for gold and finds more than he bargained for… and ends up on Mars, smack in the middle of a war. It has combat, adventure, some hand-waves at science, and an underlying message and theme about fighting for your beliefs. What’s not to like? John Carter is some of the original space opera, the inspiration for later franchises like Buck Rogers, Star Wars, and a host of others. For a good popcorn flick and an introduction to the John Carter universe (I highly recommend the books), pick it up and give it a shot.