The Unpopular Opinion: John Carter — by Alex Maldy

Other Stuff

by Alex Maldy via

Just over a year ago, Disney had two big budget movies coming out that was a big risk for the studio if fans did not turn out in droves to see them. One turned out to be a massive success (THE AVENGERS) and the other one of the biggest box office bombs of all time. JOHN CARTER did not click with critics or the movie-going public and I consider that a huge shame. JOHN CARTER is everything that a STAR WARS or INDIANA JONES fan could want in a movie and is a massive amount of fun to watch on repeated viewings. If you haven’t given the movie a chance, you are missing out.

JOHN CARTER, like STAR WARS or THE LORD OF THE RINGS, consists of an intricate mythology that is barely scratched in a single two hour film. The ten novel series by Edgar Rice Burroughs is one of the greatest adventure series in all of literature and was a direct influence on George Lucas and James Cameron. To see JOHN CARTER may come across as derivative of STAR WARS when in fact the Lucas films paid homage to the Burroughs books countless times over. Maybe that was the problem or the awful marketing job that Disney did with it, but JOHN CARTER is one of the best times I have had with a movie in years.

Read the rest at


  • Good news for Doc Savage! He popped up quite a lot lately in comments. I admit I’m not particularly a fan of the character himself, but I may be missing something. I think I read the first two novels and remember not being impressed. I may give them another try though, perhaps I was just in a bad mood. Anyway, we need a surge of pulp heroes popping onto the big screen! Hopefully some Burroughs heroes will be among the bunch.

    I imagine Shane Black is a fan of the character and will stay faithful to him, otherwise why even bother to adapt his adventures and not make up a “pulp” team à la Buckaroo Banzai? That’s odd, Shane Black’s work seems a bit on the cynical side of things to me, I can’t picture him making a pulp adventure, but who knows? It could be great.

  • “But what Stanton didn’t catch enough is that Han Solo was not the main protagonist of Star Wars, Luke was.”

    Stanton probably missed that. He probably thought Luke and Han weren’t whiny enough and how the film needed moving cities, dead wives and shape shifting British dudes. After all he did pitch this as “Indiana Jones on Mars” to Disney and I get the feeling he never saw any of those films (unless it was Crystal Skull).

    But that’s true, Han’s cynical attitude was offset by Luke, the same way Luke’s naive personality was offset by Han. Stanton didn’t do that, even though Burroughs provided a good character in Sola that could have provided that flip side. Sadly Stanton decided to ruin that character as well with the pointless rewriting of her and Tars’ back story (and I haven’t heard any of the Back to Barsoomers offer up a good explanation why that was a good change. Any of them want to try, other than the “Stanton’s my God and does no wrong” defense) and made her just as empty as Mopey Carter was.

    On an off note, maybe the pulp hero isn’t dead yet. I saw an interview with Shane Black, promoting Iron Man 3, where he confirmed his next movie will be Doc Savage. It’s a shame Black was never approached to do John Carter of Mars or Tarzan. He might have done a good job.

  • Thanks for the heads up on the article. The writer is a little overly gushy with his praise, but I mostly agree with his sentiments. The CGI in ‘Carter was top-notch, Lynn Collins’ Dejah was mesmerizing, and ‘Carter does have an Indiana Jones/Buck Rodgers/Flash Gordon feel….a slightly off-kilter, borderline campy-ish, fun film with the added depth of character and emotional elements which Stanton’s films are so good at.

  • Well, Han didn’t talk about his cave of gold to Leia, but he surely did to Luke, AND he made sure that Leia understood previously that he was just there to be the cab driver, nothing more. In fact that’s an accurate depiction of John Carter too, a guy that hides his true motivations behind a rough hide. But what Stanton didn’t catch enough is that Han Solo was not the main protagonist of Star Wars, Luke was. Yes, Luke could appear somewhat bland compared to the dashing space pirate, but at least we fully knew his motivations, he drove the story for the audience. That’s probably why John Carter is worthy of multiple viewings, among the things you have to digest regarding the exposition, you have to understand that Carter truly hides his true motivations. I’m not ashamed to admit that I didn’t understand it at first, to me Carter was just inconsistently written. It’s only when Michael wrote his article saying that Burroughs’ Carter may be hidden behind Stanton’s Carter that I got it.

  • I guess this was an “unpopular opinion” since no one has responded. Well the sniping isn’t going to do itself…

    First has this guy ever seen a Star Wars or Indiana Jones movie? Comparing Kitsch’s Mopey Carter to Indy or Han Solo is an insult to Harrison Ford. Neither of them whined as much as Mopey did throughout this movie. And the comparison to Luke? Yeah I guess I missed the part where Luke told Princess Leia “it’s not my problem, I have a cave of gold at home.”

    Also his comment about how the books have “an intricate mythology that is barely scratched in a single two hour film.” Yeah it does, especially here where Stanton chucked it into the trash can in favor of his “damaged goods,” shape shifting Therns and their Super Special Medallions and Dead Wives ripped off from 1970s movies (which as we know no one ever watches in the Stantonian view of the world, like how no one reads books). There is a great mythology there but I guess we have to wait until a clone of Peter Jackson comes along to tap it.

    That’s all I got for now. 😉

Leave a Reply