Posted in books, film scores, movies, music, science fiction, science fiction, Steampunk, writing

Some Love for John Carter

I was distressed to see so much negativity surrounding the movie John Carter, based on the book A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, proclaiming it a weekend flop before the weekend was even over. It opened against some stiff competition (Disney’s new version of The Lorax. Give me strength). Now what in god’s name was Disney thinking launching both the same weekend?

I finally went to see it at a mid-afternoon showing on Monday (since I’m unemployed at this time, I have the luxury of being able to see movies when theaters aren’t so crowded). There were about 10 people there, including myself. It was perfect.

It’s a swashbuckler as much as anything. It brought back fond memories of when dragged a non-scifi friend  to see the first Star Wars movie in 1977.  We both felt that movie was just plain good fun. The good guys against the bad guys, white hats against the black hats. And so it is with John Carter.

Bear in mind these books were written 100 years ago, so they were not in any sense ‘politically correct.’ The princess of Mars, Dejah Thoris, wears nothing but some nice jewelry in the books. And probably a smile. I guess the climate on Mars is so mild nobody bothered to invent clothing. Obviously the movie has them wearing some pretty fabulous costumes, except for our intrepid hero, John Carter (played charmingly by Taylor Kitsch) who gets to run around in basically a loincloth through most of the flick. He did something like 98% of his own stunts and claims he has the groin scars to prove it, being strapped into harnesses for all the big bounce maneuvers.

I haven’t read the book on which the movie is based, but I am told by others who have that in the books Dejah Thoris is pretty much the typical helpless female who needs rescuing. Again, remember, the book was published in 1912. Edward was on the throne in England (think Mary Poppins, the Suffragette movement was new). Not so in the movie. Lynn Collins plays the princess, Dejah Thoris, and is in real life a black belt in karate. This gal can kick some serious ass. And her character wields a sword with the best of them, which leads to some amusing interchanges between her and John Carter. She’s strong, brave, brilliant, a professor in her city called Helium. No damsel-in-distress. She’s willing to sacrifice herself for the good of her people, to save her world. The character was updated, I’m sure, to make her more attractive and believable to modern audiences.

The steampunk crowd will appreciate the technology of the flying vessels they have. When John Carter decides to try to fly one, it takes him awhile to get the hang of the thing leading to some amusing, if harrowing, moments.

Go for the fun, the spectacle, the love story, the fabulous sets, the humor. The “Learning to Walk” scene is going to become a classic, so funny.

Here’s the trailer, and as usual, it kind of gets you muddled by tossing in scenes kind of randomly, but it’s much better than it looks here. The score is by Michael Giacchino, and I’ve already ordered the limited edition soundtrack CD while waiting anxiously, eagerly, for the pre-order for the DVD to become available (and yes I know the movie just opened).


Writer of vampire stories and science fiction. First novel, "Revenants Abroad", available now at Amazon. If you like a vampire you can go out drinking with and still respect yourself in the morning, I think you'd like Andrej.

23 thoughts on “Some Love for John Carter

  1. I agree! I didn’t like the portrayal of the Native Americans, but when does Hollywood ever get that right? And, yes, it is a simple plot – but I loved it! And the love story is cute. I great date flick if you ask me. i really enjoyed it and I bet it will become a success despite all the naysayers. I’m glad I’m not the only one that liked it! Oh, my husband loved it too. So, there’s three of us now. 🙂


  2. Haha 🙂 Yes, I think just about everyone who sees it likes it. The biggest complaint seems to be that they spent a lot of money making it ($250M, I believe) and it didn’t earn that back in the opening weekend, making only $100M. Um, seems like a reasonable take for 2 days, considering they were up against “The Lorax.” I’m even thinking of going to see it again, and I NEVER do that. A great date flick, indeed!


  3. Yay! 😀 The plotline is not so convoluted that you won’t be able to follow it. I hate movies that have subplots within subplots and you start forgetting who everyone is. This is just enough to keep you guessing, but there are some great devices and original technology that really made the movie for me. Let me know how you like it! 🙂


  4. This sounds like a lot of fun. I’ve heard some talk about it, but not much detail. Thanks for the revew. I think I will see it at some point. I could use some good old-fashioned entertainment.


  5. Hi Tasha,

    It is good fun. I’m hoping some word-of-mouth can bolster the box office receipts because I’d really like to see a sequel. Taylor Kitsch has already said he’s ready to sign on for it, I think Lynn Collins is as well.


  6. I hope to see this movie soon! The trailers I’ve seen were wonderful, even the “indie” one that was made a few weeks back. I read the series back in junior high, and I should read them again. They were fun to daydream about. Many movie adaptations are not done very well, ex. Stephen King’s novels. Yet, like you wrote, today’s audiences are different and a director’s interpretation can vary greatly from a novel.

    I remember my sophomore year in high school when Star Wars came out. I was enchanted by the movie and would walk the 3 miles to the theater after school to watch it again…12 more times! 🙂 Good thing that today you can buy a DVD and re-watch any movie, over and over again, without it hurting us in the wallet. 😛


    1. Ain’t it the truth 😉 He’s so cute in interviews, he comes across as a genuinely nice person.

      It was awesome not having a theater full of people talking and on their cell phones.


  7. I haven’t read the books, but will do so now. I realize they’re quite different from the movie, that’s ok. I’ve come to look at the differences between books and movies as almost like getting another sequel, like a bonus, another book in the series. From what I’ve heard they did get some things very close to the books, it’ll be interesting to compare.


  8. Okay, I’m convinced and will probably love it. Simple plots, etc are a refreshing change from so much of today’s films. And matinee’s are super…my love and I were two of the five who were viewing the last movie we ‘matinee-d’ and we totally relaxed and enjoyed.

    As for Star Wars? Ha, we’ll never, ever grow tired of watching…those flicks are so great.

    Thanks for the tip…


  9. Heehee! Hooray! I hope you like it, I think you will.

    I’m with you, Star Wars is just timeless. I’ve seen it so often watching it is like visiting old friends 😉


  10. Thanks for writing this D.D! I was wondering about it a lot lately. Wanted to read about it but didn’t want any spoilers since I never read the book. You did an excellent Job!

    I’ll probably see it very soon.


  11. Heya! Thanks, and thanks for coming by 🙂

    It’s a lot of fun. I just downloaded a free Kindle-for-PC version of the book, and am very eager to start reading. Hope you like the movie!


  12. That may be. For all the money they spent on marketing (something like $100M) it sure wasn’t very effective. Damn shame, it was a really fun movie. I may go see it again today.


  13. I’m well aware of what it is. I know the book well. It’s about environmentalism, and I know it’s kicking John Carter’s ass at the box office, but it infuriates me that they’ve twisted and commercialized Geisel’s message of environmentalism to sell cars. The Lorax does not drive a car.


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