I’ve waited quite a long time to write about poor old John Carter because of all the nonsense that’s been floating around since before it came out and which only intensified after its release and subsequent dive into cinematic ignominy.

This isn’t going to be a properly measured review of the film (if you want that then I can do no better than to direct you to Carl’s splendid post; some of his companion pieces on the subject are  good as well) but more my impressions of the film and the furore that followed.

First a bit of background. Long-time readers will recall that I have been known to accompany the Book God to films that are not at first glance necessarily my cup of tea because (1) that’s the sort of thing you do when you’re married and (2) I have occasionally been pleasantly surprised – see Immortals and Red Cliff as good examples.

The Book God had been excited about this one as soon as the first stills leaked out, and his excitement slowly infected me as well, but I didn’t know very much about the story except that it was Edgar Rice Burroughs and was about a person from Earth who somehow got stuck on Mars. But that was good enough for me, so off we went one Sunday afternoon to watch the thing; I hadn’t read or heard any reviews though I was aware of some mutterings, especially around the advertising.

Before I launch into bullet-point mode its worth saying that I really, really enjoyed this, the time flew by and its on my DVD-to-buy list.

So there.

My thoughts:

  • What on earth were Disney thinking in just calling it John Carter? True, the poster gives you a clue as to what kind of film this is but for goodness sake, the inclusion of the word Mars wasn’t going to put people off (I say that as someone who has a stack of sci-fi novels and disappointing films (I’m looking at you Mission to Mars) bought solely because they were SET ON MARS)

[See what you have done, Disney, you have made me shouty and use parentheses in an excessive manner, shame on you]

  • And getting back to the whole Mars thing, how can people have watched this film and not realise that it was set on Mars? Apart from the big “of Mars” do-dah at the end, it’s mentioned at least twice in the film including some lengthy fiddling about with a star-map sort of thing. This has led me to the conclusion that some folk are just dim, which is not a very nice way to view your fellow man and I blame Disney for my temporary misanthropy as well
  • OK, so Taylor Kitsch is a bit dull and gloomy but that worked for me as well, not everyone inexplicably transported to another world will be full of joy and wonder and grasp the situation immediately
  • And there were some brilliant stalwart British actors moving the whole thing along; Ciaran Hinds looking a bit odd in his Julius-Caeasar-type grey wig, but c’mon Dominic West was chewing the scenery villainously, and I would have liked to have seen more of James Purefoy
  • Mark Strong. The man’s a class act in absolutely everything he has ever been in and I would bow my head in his presence (if I was ever lucky enough to be in his presence)
  • The heroine was quite pretty and not totally vapid. This is a good thing.
  • I liked the special effects. I liked the properly alien Martians. I liked the big dog thing. I particularly liked the framing device, very sweet (and yay Bryan Cranston).

So I just don’t understand why so many people seem to dislike this so much. It was not dull (despite what Mark Kermode and other reviewers have said) and it wasn’t incomprehensible if you were at least half-awake.

And it was set on Mars.

It’s a real shame it lost so much money and there won’t be any sequels. If I were a conspiracy theorist I would smell a rat, but sadly I just think that the studio got embarrassed by the film.

The whole thing has made me quite cross. Can you tell?

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