SCIE- Wait, I already pulled that one. Heh, ‘pull’, get it? It’s a wordplay because both times were about gravity. And gravity… pulls. It pulls. Like I did just now. (I know, I’m always so witty.)
Hey y’all. Did you ever see a movie poster and thought something along the lines of, “I don’t even know what that is, why should I watch it”, did you? I certainly did with this movie, John Carter. I didn’t even catch sight of a trailer until much later. And of course I didn’t watch it in theaters back then. Biggest. Mistake. Ever. So now that I watched it on DVD (how nostalgic), I want to write a review about it. That, and because my co-writer
DumbassBadassDemonlord down there did one. Personally I don’t like writing reviews about movies very much because movies… are something you either like or don’t. It’s hard to tell if a movie is good or bad. Sure, there are really crappy productions that can be at least judged in their quality, but when it comes to pacing, storytelling and characters, it really depends on the person that’s watching the movie.
Then, why am I really doing this if it serves no purpose, because you only know if you like a movie when you really watched it? For exactly that reason. I want to make you watch it. That’s my goal. Even if you’re just a bypasser, as long as I can bring you to watch this movie, I achieved my goal with this review, regardless of whether you liked the movie or not. Oh, and I didn’t read the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs that this film is based on. I didn’t even know he created Tarzan until now. I’m just saying that I can’t say if it’s well adapted or not, so if you’re a fan, look somewhere else. Shoo!
Am I going to take this seriously? Oh, hell no. I want to have fun too.
So, the movie begins very science-fiction-ish. There are flying ships on the planet Mars (known as Barsoom to the inhabitants) and apparently two nations (red for the bad guys, blue for the good guys, just like Dynasty Warriors) fighting in some kind of semi-balanced war. Then out of nowhere the Blue Man Group (sans the Blue… or not?) approaches the Badguy McEvilman and give him the power he needs to turn the tides and defeat his enemies. And that’s basically everything we need to know. Bad guy, bald dudes, overpowered, Mars. Pleasure you can’t measure.
The name of the film pops up and then we are in New York City. It’s the year 1881 and it rains heavily. With hot haste, John Carter – being followed by a mysterious man – quickly sends off a telegram to his nephew Ned. The young man, surprised by the notice of his uncle, rides a train to visit him, only to find out he died. And what do we find out? Well, for one, the name of John’s nephew is actually not Ned, but Edgar Rice Burroughs. Huh. What a coincidence. John’s lawyer then gives Edgar the diary of his late uncle, that only he is allowed to read. Long story short, this is obviously where John Carter’s own story truly begins.
He started off as an unsuccessful gold digger, who trusted the american native who sold him the whereabouts of a gold-filled but cursed cave. After a little skirmish with other poeple, soldiers and natives, he finds the cave by accident. And by accident, one of the Blue Man Group from Mars pops up, only to get accidentally shot by the surprised John Carter, who then gets sent to Mars, by… uh, accident. And some strange amulet that’s obviously not going to be a huge plot item later on.
Hello ladies. Look at your Earth. Now back to Mars. Now back at your Earth. Now back to Mars. Sadly, our planet isn’t Mars. But if it had less gravity and water, John Carter could jump around like on Mars. Look down. Back up. Where is John Carter? He is in captured by aliens that are nice at first but get angered easily. What’s on the ground? Back up. It’s in the air. The two forces from before are fighting themselves with airships again. Look again. John Carter is now saving the one that’s at a disadvantage! Anything is possible when you’re on Mars and not on Earth! I’m in a cage.
Basically, John rescues the princess of the blue force from the red force. Or at least he tried. The non-humanoid neutral alien-race of the Tharks that captured John earlier is impressed by his actions and allows him to keep the princess as a loot of war. In the holy temple of the alien race, John then finds out that the key to returning to Earth could be the amulet he got from the Blue Man Group. Who has it? Willem Dafoe, king of the Tharks, because John lost it. Fortunately, he gives it to him before they have to flee from the furious aliens for disgracing the holy temple.
Here I will stop with the plot. From here on, John is in a conflict between returning to Earth or fighting for the princess. Everything beyond that could already be considered as spoiler, and I ain’t spoiling anything tonight.
Despite the complicate presentation given by the movie itself, it’s actually pretty simple. Hero, inner conflict, bad guys. While John Carter is nothing special, it’s far from being a bad film. I would even say it’s too underestimated. But let me explain to you why exactly I like this movie.
First of all, every character is unlikeable. “But how is that something positive, you idiot?!” Easy: after some time watching John Carter, you grow to like them. They don’t seem to have any personality at all, especially John, but you still want them to accomplish their goals by the end of the movie. Even when you didn’t care about them in the beginning, you will be rooting for them by the end. At least that’s the case for me.
Secondly, it’s very cliché, but the good kind, where you are confronted with something familiar. As I said, it’s nothing special, but do movies really have to be overwhelming all the time? Sometimes it’s just enough to be entertained. And that’s exactly what John Carter is: plot-driven entertainment.
The third thing is, the humor in this movie is rare but great. It’s like they are begging you not to take this film seriously. And you really shouldn’t.
Unfortunately, this movie already seems to have a bad reputation that it clearly doesn’t deserve, because of the low financial income it made. Well, that’s no surprise. The title doesn’t say much, the trailer looks a bit like an Avatar rip-off (the James Cameron one, not AVATAR STATE, YIP YIP) and didn’t have any connection to the movie at all (apart from the visuals), there are no really notable actors (except for Willem Dafoe who is enjoyable as a green
goblin alien, and that bald guy I know from somewhere), and… well, it’s sci-fi. Not the most mainstream genre there is, aye?
Most importantly: a movie’s worth isn’t determined by the money it made. Nolan’s movies, for example, will forever be cash cows, doesn’t matter if they are good or bad. No matter how bad any of his movies turns out, Hollywood will think it was a success because it made money. That’s all there is to it.
And do you want to know how I was made aware of that movie? Not because I saw the poster. Not because they showed a trailer in the movie theater. Not because someone told me to check it out. I searched for the song Kashmir by Led Zeppelin on YouTube. That’s how I found the trailer. How stupid is that? Marketing my ass.
So, is the movie enjoyable? Yes. Is it underrated? Mostly. Is there a plot twist to it? I guess. Do you have to deactivate your brain before watching it? Uh… it helps. Is the movie overwhelming? Nah. With that, I rate this movie with a ‘nice saturday evening flick’. Cheers!