Dear John Carter,
After having inadvertently seen some scathing and begrudging reviews, I go into our meeting not expecting very much. That’s impressive considering the fact that I am a Big Fan of Burroughs, Verne and Robert E. Howard. To say I have reverence for the great pulp stars would a very safe statement.
Now that this meeting has occurred I am mildly surprised and mildly annoyed. I am mildly surprised in that I find the beginning of your story quite satisfying by contrast to many harsh reviews. The exposition before Mars is a bit mysterious though not so laborious as I was led to believe, and well establishes John as the hard ass he is. It paints this story well at the start. Even getting to Mars has a blink of eye curiosity that keeps me invested since it is so sudden and little explained.
Once on Barsoom, that half gravity messes with John for a while until the Tharks find him and uh, kind of claim him. I love the way Tars Tarkas throws down his weapons and Anthropomorphizes John exactly as we would anything we encounter that is alien. It’s a neat reverse perspective! As we find out more about the Tharks back at Tharksville, soon the pivotal character, Princess Dejah, is introduced to us and John via her flight from a betrothal to the enemy king. This king is being allowed to rule the entire planet by another star-traveling immortal race that plunders and pillages sentient planets until they are dead husks.
Still with me? As John uses his near superhero physicality to pluck her out of harms way, and Tars Tarkas bestows honor on him naming him his ‘right arms,’ they soon enough anger the village by visiting a sacred chamber that aids John in finding the next piece of the puzzle. When they are to be sacrificed to the great apes, Tars sets them free illegally with his soon to be sacrificed Daughter Sola to make way to the sacred temple that can get him back to earth. I pause to ponder the visual feast in front of me; make no mistake it, excels at that not quite real larger than life feel that Burroughs was able to paint with words.
Most movie goers in this day and age don’t give that sort of credit to visuals and often aren’t surprised by the immersion, but I appreciate it anyway. So, lets look at a pulp check list. We have an implausible story, check. A simple quick-to-arms hero that is gruff but fundamentally good, check. Tons of action and near constant fighting, check. A nearly impossible quest to get back home, check. Damsel in extreme distress, check. Molten chemistry between said damsel and John, check. Certainty of death, very small chance of success, check.
You get the picture.
Its all here. There are even extras! The Speedy Gonzales ‘Frog-Dog’ Woola is the coolest creature I have see in a long time and I want one. This is the first time EVER that I would want one of anything from the big screen! Let’s also not forget the laughs in this movie. They are peppered throughout. When John finally comes to the rescue it’s big and it’s something the natives hardly expect but makes perfect sense. When they win and he gets his princess prize, it is satisfying like it should be. But the end from here twists and turns a bit yet also satisfies.
Are you a masterpiece? No. You have a bit to much Hollywood template to you and thus I come to my annoyance. I usually embrace my excitable inner ten year old in these instances and just munch popcorn and revel in the ride. I did so in this case as well and really liked the movie, as it was a rip roaring good time.
We have a caveat and I don’t like to rail but I will this rare occasion to remind all the jaded critics that while yes you have seen it before, don’t pollute your opinion because you have seen it’s ‘type’ before, or marketing didn’t sell it, don’t lament that it is another similar effort to Prince of Persia, Starship Troopers, or any number of others. Just sit back and enjoy and don’t come down so hard on the movie for being made that HAS to follow a seriously Frakked up Studio ROI mindset just to see the light of day where you either follow the formula or take your ass home. Embrace what got you into movies in the first place.
All I know is I never get that jaded and reward those that provide me a good time with a kind word and you did that. I don’t usually give a grade but you get a solid B for the fun B movie you are and the Blast I had!
Come visit anytime John Carter.