Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Reflecting on John Carter (2012)

While leaving an afternoon matinee of Andrew Stanton's wonderful film John Carter (2012), I asked my wife what she thought. She is a much more discerning viewer than I (who even paid to see Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance--in 3D no less--so, I am admittedly no expert of what people like) and she surprised me by sharing how much she enjoyed the film, too. Like many movies, I had dragged her to the movie because I had had a long time appreciation of the character, beginning with Edgar Rice Burroughs source material (A Princess of Mars) on through the Marvel Comics title John Carter Warlord of Mars which was published in 1977 (following the success of a little film called Star Wars). I have until very recently read the current comic book adaptation of the material published by Dynamite Publishing.

As much as I enjoyed the movie, I was even happier that my wife had enjoyed it. This meant that maybe other neophyte Carter "fans" might discover this $250 million dollar Valentine-of-a-popcorn flick.

Of course, if you've read the movie news at all today, this was not the case (at least not stateside), as The Lorax... yes THE LORAX, proved even more financially successful this weekend. While I have little doubt that The Lorax is a very entertaining flick (Heck, I'll likely watch it on DVD someday, too), it was up against John Carter... JOHN CARTER... the freakin'  Warlord of Mars... with a beautiful Martian princess... and giant blind Martian apes ... and beheadings and Tharks and...

And this morning at work (school) as I inquired as to whether or not any of my students had ventured to the theaters to see the film this past weekend, too. Of the seventy students I saw today, only two had (both had gone with their fathers) and both enjoyed the film. Unfortunately, had they not been taken by middle aged fanboys such as myself they likely would not have gone at all. When I asked if anyone had heard of John Carter, my query was met with silence.

When I asked if they had known that much of the more popular science-action-adventure they enjoyed owed much to John Carter, again, silence. The only association I could come that did garner any recognition was... not the amazing 100 year literary history of the character, but the word "Tarzan." Raised on Disney's 1999 animated hit (also a wonderful film but not ERB character), they all had heard of Tarzan, but to them John Carter was a mystery and, unfortunately, due to any number of reasons, including terrible marketing, he is likely to remain as such to them.

For me, I've picked up my worn copy of Princess of Mars (a scan of the cover is posted above) and will eventually watch the movie again, with my own son over the next few weeks before it leaves theaters, and hopefully some company somewhere will have the common sense to release a Woola toy for careful placement in my office.

If you are on the fence about seeing the film or have seen it and are interested in some analysis of the movies nuances and mythos check out "John Carter & the Political Language of Barsoom". Very cool stuff.

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