MCR has reviewed John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood on his blog, and has been reasonably gente with me, for which I am grateful. I’m going to just post it here first and then later, after I’ve got an egg nog glow going on, I’ll offer some comments. Please click through and read it over on JCOM Reader.
Review: John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood
So, the world didn’t end? Talk about disappointing your audience. How’s that for a segue way for a review?
At this point every Edgar Rice Burroughs fan and fans of Andrew Stanton’s John Carter can tell you the basics of what happened-massively expensive movie+bad buzz and press=box office bomb. Now the merits of the film itself has been debated (and will be before this review ends) but did John Carter deserve it’s fate as the 21st Century’s answer to Ishtar?
John Carter Files creator Michael Sellers’ book makes the argument that it didn’t, that like all things it was a combination of elements that resulted in the film’s final box office fate. It’s that point of view that fuels through Gods of Hollywood and gives for fans some idea of what went wrong.
The first few chapters give a brief history of Burroughs, A Princess of Mars and John Carter’s tortured path to the motion picture screen before that fateful day in 2007 when former Disney Chairman Dick Cook called Stanton and set this whole thing in motion. From there the book doesn’t detail much of the production which it seems went smoothly contrary to the later press stories of out of control spending and reshoots but really digs in when it comes to Disney’s handling of the film. If the book has a narrative through line its here and it is that the powers that be were lax at their jobs. A film studio chief too busy buying things instead of creating them? Check. A chairman apparently too afraid or uninterested in the film to challenge the director? Check. A marketing chief who had no movie marketing experience and who made bad calls? Check. A director in over his head and who contradicted himself? Sort of a check (more on that below). All of these characters show up and Sellers does his best to catalog every misstep-from name changes, lack of Internet exposure, middling trailers and posters to the final declaration that the film was a massive bomb that cost Disney a huge write-off. In some cases its hard to tell whether to sigh sadly about all of the incompetence present or just laugh at how more badly they could screw it up…only to screw it up even more.
It’s all told with a nice, direct style by Mr. Sellers. Probably the most interesting parts-at least from a fan’s point of view-is where he takes breaks from the film’s saga to relate his own personal interest John Carter of Mars and his own disappointment and bewilderment at what was happening. One of the most eye opening chapters is a meeting with some of the Disney PR people and the realization that they were set on their course and were not going to change it no matter what.