John Carter of Mars

I took Joel's advice and went to see the movie tonight.  It appears to be headed to box office disaster, but I'm really not sure why.  There is quite a lot to recommend the movie.  The very few things that annoyed me about the movie seem to be greatly in line with popular culture:  the quick edits toward the beginning tracking his multiple escape attempts, for example, annoy me but are very popular just now.

Likewise -- to tie this to an earlier discussion -- there is an inexplicable scene where the heroine shows up the hero in physical combat.  The same hero personally destroys nearly an entire army a few minutes later while the heroine flees for her life; but when they are on screen together she shows him up, and he states that he ought to be hiding behind her.  Later in the movie, in case anyone missed it, they repeat the sequence.

But again, this is par for the course today.  Whatever is driving the box office troubles the movie is having, it isn't that.

I wonder if the problem is just the name.  The story dates to 1917, and had a much more evocative title in the original.  "John Carter" could be a movie about a dryer salesman.  It seems like a small thing -- a very small thing -- but perhaps the difficulties the movie is experiencing really just do come down to a name that doesn't explain the film.  One ought not to judge a book by the cover, but one very often does so all the same.


Tom said...

I read the comic books as a kid and look forward to seeing the movie.

You can get the free EPUB or PDF version of the book here:

It's in the public domain.

Tom said...

Hm, how about a link to the Google Books page:

A Princess of Mars

bthun said...

John Carter... Hmmm. Could be the average movie-goer think it's about a peanut grower testing the political waters in rural America?

So the movie twists the spirit of Carter on Mars with the incongruent notions you describe... I wish I could claim to be surprised that Hollywood can take a E.R.B./Carter on Mars tale and produce a failed product, but I can't.

*sigh* I can't imagine what childhood would have been like without the opportunity to get lost in E.R.B. stories, or A.C. Doyle mysteries, Heinlein's, J. Verne's, or Louis L'Amour's tales.

Fortunately Hollywood did not come between me and the local library. Of course Hollywood in those days is not the Hollywood of today.

Texan99 said...

Yes, the weak box office is more likely to result from the fact that there are only two scenes in which the heroine shows up the hero; someone obviously flunked the class in screenwriter school where you learn to insert anachronisms into old favorites in order to ride a modern hobby horse.

You guys obviously aren't E.R. fans, or you'd realize that much of the audience probably expected the hero to be the wealthy scion of a philanthropical clan who broke away to do heroic work in the medical field.

Anonymous said...

I think the marketing team fluffed up. All the TV trailers I saw were rapid cuts to various CG critters, with no hint as to what the movie was supposed to be about, if there were characters, or if this was just a warm-climate Michael Bay production.

I want to see it, I'm just having trouble finding a time slot. The last two weeks of Lent are a 'bit' busy for musician types out here!


bthun said...

Given the effects of gravity on human strength, --the explanation for Carter's superman qualities on Mars IIRC-- it does seem a bit strange that a Martian Princess would be able to whup Carter's butt, yet not be able to dispatch the unwashed hordes at the gate with the same ease that Carter does.

Walkin' Boss always gives me a backhand for dwelling on such minutia, but I can't seem to ignore 'em.

And after all is said and done, as this fellow reminds, there is a market for gladiator movies. Given that, LR1's marketing call is probably the best reason for the poor box office.

On the other hand, I think I'm gonna stick with my peanut farmer hypothesis.

Lars Walker said...

I saw it this weekend, and thought it was kind of fun. Yet I left strangely unsatisfied, and I'm still not entirely sure why.

Texan99 said...

A rip-roaring fantasy show shouldn't leave the audience saying, "But wait a minute . . . why . . . ?"

LittleRed, you must let us know what music you're performing/preparing.

E Hines said...

I can't imagine it being worse than Princess of Mars, which I had the misfortune of sitting through on cable TV one interminable evening.

Eric Hines

Anonymous said...

Let's see, there's Fuare's Requiem, a Maundy Thursday semi-drama (too modern for my taste), a Good Friday organ recital (page turning, stop-pulling, and a handbell bit), plus fancy hymn arrangements and some descants for both services on Palm Sunday and Easter. While preparing "Carmina Burana" for late April.

Not quite as exciting as saving Martian princesses from barbarian hordes, but almost as frantic at times.


Joel Leggett said...

I enjoyed the movie. While I noticed the gratuitous nod to PC sensibilities between the heroine and the hero I also noticed the un-PC lack of any effort to apologize for or hide John Carter's Confederate past. If I had to pick between the two for sacrifice on the alter of Political correctness I would choose the former over the latter, if for no other reason than how rare that that decision is made in the on going effort to nazify the Confederate soldier.

Grim said...

That's a good point. I saw where NASCAR wouldn't let the General Lee serve as pace car because it has a Confederate flag on it. It's hard to imagine a less objectionable thing than the Dukes of Hazzard, but apparently it's too much now.

Eric Blair said...

I actually went and found Burrough's "A Princess of Mars" (which is, supposedly what the movie is based on)

And for all that one is trying to translate a 1912 pulp sci-fi story to something one is going to spend $250 million on, and make a profit, I didn't think it missed the mark.

I actually thought that 'I should be behind you' remark was just flirting, but what the hey.

All that being said, I can see why it isn't doing better: Basically, you have to like that sort of story in the first place, and although the stories were popular enough in their day, in the end they were (and are) pulp adventure tales.

douglas said...

As to the Confederate issue- I grew up in California, but always wanted a grey kepi from Disneyland (back when they sold those hats) with the stars and bars right there on top... At least you can still get a Davy Crokett coonskin hat (fake of course) there.
Loved Dukes of Hazzard too. No one here seemed to mind the flag.