Dances with Martians

Who is John Carter?

Before I went to see the Disney sci-fi flick, I had no idea either.

Though I was an avid reader as a child, I wasn’t much for sci-fi or fantasy so I never read any of Edgar Rice Burroughs classic novels, upon which the movie John Carter is based.

My head was stuck in Beverly Cleary books and The Boxcar Children series. I didn’t even see the Star Wars series until twenty years after it came out. Remember, I grew up in a family of girls with an MGM musical junky mother.

But I do love a Renaissance man, and good old Eddie was ahead of his time. He was writing about interplanetary travel and aliens during the turn of the 20th century pulp fiction era, long before sci-fi superstar George Lucas became an earthling.

I had seen the previews, and still not being a sci-fi buff, I had no interest to see John Carter necessarily, at least until it became a $1 Red Box special we could watch on a slow weekend. But we were in Vegas as a fam looking for something appropriate to see after dark with the kids, so we decided to have a looksy at Disney’s big budget production.

I liked it.

Surprising myself, I give it a thumbs up, and not just because Taylor Kitsch is illegal alien eye candy. The fact is, I go to the movies to be entertained and I was entertained for the entire 132 minutes.

Yes the story got kinda confusing. Yes, there were cheesy parts, and parts of the alien princess could have used more clothing, but overall I thought the movie was very engaging.

I’ve read some reviews of the film that argue it’s a yawn because “been there done that.” People say it’s a copy/combo of the Star Wars series, Indiana Jones, Prince of Persia, Conan the Barbarian, Avatar and the like. And no transtribal tale would be complete without a nod to Dances With Wolves with a cross-cultural romance and bonding with the natives.

But apparently all these blockbusters are a bunch of hacks because the John Carter adventures were the brainchild of Mr. Burroughs starting back in 1912. His epic adventures have been on the docket to be produced as a film for years, but unfortunately it got buried in committee somewhere. Meanwhile, copycats surfaced and stole Johnny C’s thunder.

If a cinematic concept of this proportion had come out in 1977 like Star Wars did, even with the primitive special effects of the time, it would have rocked pop culture in the same way.

It’s taken special effects a hundred years to catch up with Edgar’s imagination and it still cost a whopping $350 mil to do it up right, which they are not even coming close to recouping in sales. It’s too bad, because I think they did right by Eddie, and it’s definitely worth the watch – and this coming from a cynical sci-fi mocker!

It’s good enough it will make you want to get a pet Woola, and hope you give birth to a cute, chubby little Thark.

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