Having just seen this movie, I am reminded of another movie where I was thoroughly confused from beginning to end. What is that movie?It was Dune by David Lynch. This begs the question, is John Carter this generations Dune? I can say that since both came from printed material, that range from 50 to 100 years, trying to bring them to the big screen is nearly impossible. Hell, do you remember how Peter Jackson struggled with making the Lord of the Rings series into three separate movies and was told to make all into one?
Granted when I first saw Dune, I had a vague idea about the series but did not know the source material and how dense the created universe came to be. After reading Dune, several times (normally I read a book once), I saw how hard Dune the movie tried to live up to Dune the book. In John Carter’s case, I am aware of the material from Edgar Rice Boroughs but I never read it. I have a feeling, when I read John Carter of Mars, I would like it more than the movie – which is usually the case.
Now, having said this, John Carter lost me completely. I had no idea who the aliens were from the humanoids to the 4 armed freaks nor did I have a clear understanding of the story/conflict. What threw me off were the names of characters and certain words they movie used – just like Dune. Once I was off put by this, I really couldn’t care for John Carter as there was nothing for me to latch on. Even as attractive the Princess looked on the screen, the onscreen chemistry was painful to watch. The Princess in certain scenes looked orange and I was yelling in my head, “Why is John Carter going afterPrincess Snooki?”
Recently, I watched JJ Abrams Star Trek movie and rewatched it with commentary. I loved his approach to update a tired franchise and have it accessible to not hard core Trek fans but also non Trek fans. I had wished this John Carter was done differently where it wasn’t so CGI heavy and there was more of connection to the lead. With marketing ad touting, “Before Avatar and Star Wars there was John Carter,” you have better deliver on the goods; Carter failed. I still think that Mars is a great setting for scifi for movies like The Martian Chronicles and Total Recall but overall Mars is a tough cookie to crack. Remember Red Planet, Mission to Mars, John Carpenter‘s Ghost of Mars? I think it is safe to say John Carter can go on this list as well.