John Carter has landed on MovieFone’s “10 Best Films You Didn’t See” list and the writeup they give it is a good one. I think it captures the John Carter Conundrum pretty well. It manages to combine “deeply strange”, “wildly imaginative”, and “discombobulated mess” into the description, but lands on “easygoing, overtly earnest charm”.
It’s weird to think of a $200 million Disney event movie directed by the filmmaker behind “Finding Nemo” as a “lost” film, but that’s exactly what “John Carter” was. Based on a series of hugely influential, hundred-year-old pulp novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, and flattened by the one-two punch of bad press and poor marketing, “John Carter” died a dog’s death at the box office this spring, despite being a deeply strange, wildly imaginative and hugely personal blockbuster. True, “John Carter” is a discombobulated mess, often times getting lost in a tangle of subplots and arcane terminology, but it works more often than it should, and has an easygoing, overtly earnest charm that’s hard to shrug off. Taylor Kitsch, from “Friday Night Lights,” plays the title role, a grumpy Confederate soldier zapped to Mars (that tired old story). Andrew Stanton, a Pixar veteran, made his live action debut with “John Carter,” and the action sequences have a zippy inventiveness befitting someone with an animation background (the script was co-written by Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Michael Chabon), often resulting in bold, sometimes deeply unsettling decisions. Known primarily as an astronomical financial dud, “John Carter” will one day rightfully be recognized for what it truly is — an utterly winning cult classic.
Oh, damn. There I go baiting the contrarians again.
“Utterly winning cult classic”?
Will anyone take the bait?
Here, to balance things out, is the Time Magazine writeup on JC’s inclusion in the worst films of the year. This should be soothing to those riled by the one above.
John Carter — #2
A 2011 New Yorker profile of Andrew Stanton revealed that the WALL-E director had never heard the words “I’m proud of you” from his parents. Who wants to kick that dude when he’s down? Thus, I saw the much-reviled John Carter with my son, a moviegoer so generous, he has defended Jar Jar Binks. We tried to get our bearings on Stanton’s alien planet, with its portentous conversations, native Tharks (who would fit in at a Binks family reunion) and long but passionless battles. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, embodying Lorenzo Lamas circa 1982) and his princess (Lynn Collins) seemed born not to love each other so much as to mud-wrestle each other. At the end, I expected my kid to announce that John Carter was awesome. Instead he said, “That has to go on your worst list.” Out of the mouths of babes (and the target demographic).
Under the John Carter listing, there is a spirited rebuttal from Daria Brooks, who is one of the prominent members of the John Carter Facebook Back to Barsoom Group, and a professional writer of Childrens Books (see Legacy of the Pacific.)
I’ve been preparing for months to spend December doing exactly what I’ve done most of this year: Following around idiotic pundits correcting their ridiculous misconceptions about “John Carter.” I really don’t care what some supposed film critic’s little kid thought of this amazingly creative rendition of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 100 year old adventure tale “A Princess Of Mars.” (It’s a PG-13 film, by the way, so young children shouldn’t even be viewing it). Until early 2011, this was meant to be the first live-action Pixar film for Disney Studios, but executive in-fighting, stock manipulation, marketing ineptitude and Disney’s own sabotage campaign (ever notice that there were almost no licensing deals for toys–for a Disney flick?!) turned what should have been Taylor Kitsch’s first hit of the year into every copy-cat blogger’s joy. The film broke box office records across Europe, plus remained in US theaters for four months–longer than 70% of other film releases this year. It went straight to No.1 on DVD/Blu-ray on June 5 . . . . The lesson: Stop relying on the opinions of people who write reviews based upon the quality of the press junkets and the gift bags they receive. “John Carter” is a fabulous paean to the movie serials of the 1930s and a great adventure outing indeed–see it!