John Carter of Mars Lives!

I thought John Carter was a hoot!  I’ve read most of the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, and own 10 of his books from three series.  I’m no expert, but I think that the John Carter movie caught the Barsoom zeitgeist really well, and brought the visuals firmly into the 21st century.  Playing ERB as the nephew works out very, very well in relation to the original, and Mars itself works out to be a really strong character in the movie.  While the story doesn’t hold true to any one of the Barsoom books, in another way it hold true to all of them.  Critics can hate this movie all they want (haters gotta hate).  I think anybody who ever read the Barsoom books will find something to treasure here.

I took my family to watch this film, and every one of us liked it.  Even my wife, who found huge nits when she watched Casablanca, loved this. I draw that comparison because Casablanca has spawned so many imitations that My Bride thought the original film was full of clichés.  John Carter of Mars started just that size of revolution among F&SF fans around the world, and the stuff Edgar Rice Burroughs dreamed up has been almost endlessly regurgitated for B movies and B pulp fiction, but ERB created it, and Disney brought that oeuvre boldly to life.  I’m just pleased as punch, and my family had a great night at the movies.  If this show hasn’t left your village, go and watch it.

Visually it’s as real in its stark reds and severe clime as Avatar is in its blues and verdant forests, and John Carter doesn’t require that humanity export evil exploitation from America in order to fight it.  Instead it gives us a hero who finds reasons for hope and love in extreme conditions, and doesn’t then belabor that.  It squeezes a love story into a few looks and some shared peril, and unfolds an entire alien, impossible, amazing and fun world before our eyes.  And I loved that dog.

My only real nit was the red-men of Mars.  In my mental picture they’re a bold red, not a standard human coloration.  I think giving them a native American cast of color but not foregrounding Native American actors gives the movie a mildly off ambiance – it looks too much like 1950s Western Movie red-face.  They should have gone Cadillac Red.

Bill