by Scott D. Parker “John Carter” is a very good film, not as bad as many critics have said, provided you know one thing: How To Have Fun.
To understand this essay, you have to understand where I come from and the type of viewer and reader I am. “A Princess of Mars,” Edgar Rice Burroughs’s first Mars book—first book period (!)—and the basis for the new movie, is one of the very few things that can literally transport me back to that glorious time in my life in the late 70s halo of those immediate post-Star Wars years where I learned about science fiction. While I cannot say with certainty that the John Carter books were my first literary SF, they were among the first. I re-read “Princess” a couple of years ago and found that the tale still held sway over my imagination despite my more adult observations on the technical proficiency of ERB’s writing style. In preparation for the new movie, my SF book club agreed to read the first two novels of the series (the second being The Gods of Mars), watch the movie, and then retire to a nearby restaurant and discuss.
As to the type of reader and viewer I am, let’s just say that I thoroughly enjoy being entertained. When it comes to TV cop shows, I can enjoy “The Wire” and “CSI: Miami” for what each of them are. CSI: Miami will never win over critics the way The Wire has, but I often have more fun with Horatio Caine and company versus McNulty and his pals. I was completely engrossed by “The Dark Knight” back in 2008 but also really dug the animated “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” released the same year. For another example, I am a proud member of the Star Wars Generation, a kid when it was released. As an adult, I was jazzed to see the new movies, yet left the theater after Episode I and Episode II having to justify many aspects of those movies. Of the six Star Wars movies made, only one is great, one is very good, and the rest are all muddled together. All this is to say that, while I don’t often wear my critical hat every time a watch or read something, I am no drone for properties and characters and universes I enjoy.