Somehow, it is impossible to just review John Carter, because it is no longer just a movie, it is something that everyone has an opinion about, and these opinions must be addressed. Apparently, there were issues with the trailers and the marketing campaign for this movie, but I usually don’t see trailers and all I saw of the marketing were the billboards, which seemed fine, if orange.
Mostly, though, what people have these opinions on is the budget. The movie cost 250 million dollars, which everyone finds so enormous that it overshadows everything else about the movie. “If it cost 250 million dollars,” they say, “We must get 250 million dollars worth of entertainment from it, starting now! Where is my money’s worth? This five minutes, did it please me $9,469,696.97 worth? EVERY SECOND COST $31,565.66! Give me $31,565.66 and I will produce a second of such unmitigated majesty as to make the gods weep! This second, I wouldn’t have paid a plugged nickle for. I spit on this second! This next one, maybe is worth about a buck and a half, let me see, how much entertainment have I gotten thus far? Not enough!” Etc, etc.
There are a nice amount of good reviews for this movie, and most of the bad ones that I saw mentioned 250 million dollars in the first paragraph, which proves one thing to me, if you go see a movie with a calculator in your hand, you ain’t gonna have any fun, partially because you don’t want to. What does a budget have to do with anything? Who cares how much the movie cost, unless you are the one who put up the dough? Did you? Is any of that money yours? No? Well, then shut the fuck up about it.
I flat out loved this movie. It is a big, cheesy ball of fun, I was grinning ear to ear and jumping up and down in my seat watching it. There is a cute lead actor who can act, there are bad, evil bald guys in white, there are twelve foot tall green Martians with four arms, there are big fights and a princess that both needs rescuing and kicks butt with a big swords, and there is a giant monster doggie! Seriously, who doesn’t love a giant monster doggie? They totally had me at giant monster doggie.
The film starts out with the framing device of Edgar Rice Burroughs, a callow youth, answering a telegram to visit his uncle, John Carter, millionaire (we see his mansion, but not his yacht, for the Elmer Fudd fans out there), but Uncle John dies right before Edgar gets there, leaving a manuscript of his incredible adventure, which Edgar reads. It seems that thirteen years earlier, John Carter, a deserter from the Confederate army, has a mountain of gold that he is trying to excavate when he is captured by the Union army, who want him to join them. John Carter has had it with wars and armies and all such nonsense and attempts escape over and over, because John Carter never gives up, and ends up back at his cave of gold, within the mountain of gold, where he surprises a futuristic weirdo, whom he kills. As the weirdo is dying, he clutches a medallion and whispers strange words. John Carter repeats them, and BAM! He is somewhere else! Somewhere very red where every step takes him great leaps and bounds. Where could this strange place be? Heck if John Carter knows! Then he meets the four-armed green people, the princess, the giant monster doggie, has lots of adventures and is generally awesome all around.
Now, I am not saying that only people who have any capacity for joy would like this movie and if you don’t, you are one of the Ironic Generation, who can only look down on things that are actually fun while wearing a porkpie hat surrounded by invisible air quotes. My mother didn’t like the movie because she thought it was too repetitious and about half an hour too long–these are legitimate issues one can have with the film. I didn’t have them, but I get it. I do, however, think that if you go in thinking only about how much it cost, you are an asshole.
I leave you with the giant monster doggie. How could you break this doggie’s heart and not give his movie an honest chance?