10 Comments

I love this movie. It is indeed a gem and I'm angry that it will not get a sequel and that I never got a Woola plushie. Unlike a lot of updates, this actually modernized the story in good ways. It's like John Carter grew up. And it was about a man and a woman coming together to defeat evil and falling in love on the way so it actually hits all of my buttons.

Expand full comment
Mar 13Liked by Caroline Furlong

Yes, exactly! This movie works so well and the new crop of Disney bosses hated what their predecessor had greenlit.

Expand full comment
Mar 13Liked by Caroline Furlong

This is a wonderful movie that got caught in a power struggle at Disney.

Read "John Carter and the Gods of Hollywood" by Michael D. Sellers (https://www.amazon.com/John-Carter-Hollywood-Michael-Sellers/dp/0615682316) for a peek inside the sausage factory.

The book is written by an obsessive fan with issues of his own, self-published with the typical flaws of self-publishers, and it's repetitive. But my God! The infighting. The inability of marketing to do their job for a host of reasons of their own. Bad everything. It's amazing the movie made it out at all.

Too bad we'll never see a sequel to a fun, fun movie that finally captured Barsoom as Edgar Rice Burroughs imagined it.

Expand full comment
Mar 13Liked by Caroline Furlong

John Carter was a highly underrated movie. And sadly I don't think Hollywood would touch it nowadays.

Expand full comment

Aside from the marketing and infighting at Disney contributing to the failure, I think another major factor contributed: Everyone seeing it cold, with no background? They thought it was derivative, and copying everything else.

The reality that ERB got there first, and that all the rest of the genre copied him? That escaped the average movie-goer. I am uncertain that you could overcome the "founder effect" here, because whatever you show on the screen...? It's been done before, by people who were actually cribbing from ERB. The fact that they're only now making movies from this material is beside the point; the lowest common-denominator audience member doesn't know or care that this is a seminal work from which the rest was copied. All they care about is that it appears cliched and derivative of the other, later works that they're familiar with.

Word of mouth on this movie was terrible, because of that. People genuinely did not get that this was a loving expression of original source material that other things they loved was cribbed from. Desert planet? Oh, that's just like Tatooine or Arrakis... Same with the near-human aliens.

Some works are just destined to be essentially impossible to make commercially successful. I can only imagine the nightmare of trying to film a true-to-the-books versions of the predecessors to ERB and Tolkien: Good luck convincing anyone that you weren't doing a cut-and-paste copy job between something made out of Lord Dunsany's works, or C.L. Moore's Jirel of Joiry, and any of what they now term "classic fantasy", which ain't nobody understanding is itself standing on the shoulders of some fairly tall giants...

It absolutely sucks, but... Good luck convincing anyone that going back to the original long-forgotten source isn't somehow copying that which ripped those original sources off in the first damn place.

I'd love to go back and mine the entire 19th Century oeuvre produced by men we only remember as mere passing jokes. Case in point... Do any of you know what the first "science fiction/fantasy convention" was? Who the author was that inspired it? What modern-day contest is based on his writing?

Answer below as you will... I'll put the one I'm looking for up later on. It's a bit of a shocker, to a lot of people.

Expand full comment

First "science fiction con"? The Vril-Ya Bazaar and Fête, 1891 in London.

One of the better write-ups of it:

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/646499/first-sci-fi-convention-vril-ya-bazaar

Author? Edward Bulwer-Lytton, the very same man whose works inspired the infamous Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest.

Bonus points to anyone that can name his now-iconic quotes, which nobody remembers him having been responsible for.

What's ironic as hell is that if you'd have asked anyone during his heyday if he would still be read in a hundred years, they'd have said "Oh, hell yes!". He was arguably right up there with Charles Dickens, in terms of general popularity. Now? He's a joke... Wonder where Stephen King is going to be, in a hundred years?

Expand full comment

I’m not tribal, but dang if I didn’t find one in this one movie review. I thought I was alone.

Expand full comment
author

No, sir, you are not alone! I love this movie! :D

Expand full comment
Mar 13Liked by Caroline Furlong

This is as astute review, Caroline.

"Additionally, John Carter does not make fun of the titular hero’s “old-fashioned” manners or his masculinity. While it takes pains to show that Deja Thoris can fight, she never belittles the Earthman for making an effort to protect her, or for rescuing her. She teases him, but it is clearly just that: banter, something meant to show she appreciates his concern for her. A far cry from The Force Awakens’ infamous scenes where Rey shouts: “Stop holding my hand!”

On that point, John Carter never avoids the fact that its hero abides by his culture, despite adapting to at least some of Barsoom’s customs. Although he uses or abides by the Martians’ traditions when necessary, particularly toward the end of the film, for the most part he behaves like a Christian gentleman from the American southeast. He offers a salute to Tars Tarkas – who adopts the practice himself later on – and rescues the “dog” Woola when the beast is being abused in the middle of a party. When he proposes to Deja Thoris toward the end of the film, he does so in the traditional Christian manner, not the Barsoomian way."

Expand full comment
author

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it! :D

Expand full comment