John Carter movie

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John Carter movie

Post by finarvyn » Wed Dec 05, 2018 1:32 am

So I've been re-watching the John Carter movie tonight and thought I'd see what others here thought of it.

A couple of my thoughts:

* I liked it a lot overall. Saw it 6-8 times in the theater. Nice soundtrack, tharks were well done. Overall I thought it captured a solid Barsoom vibe.

* The flying ships weren't at all what I imagined they would look like, perhaps because I'm biased by some of the cover art of the novels. I always thought they would look a lot like regular water-based ships, only with a propeller. Dunno, maybe that would have looked dumb on screen.

* The sub-plot with ERB was pretty well done. I liked the puzzle of the burial site; different from the book and allowed for some surprises at the end.

* I wasn't as interested in the dead-wife subplot. I suppose they thought that John Carter needed motivation, but in the books he just likes to fight and that seemed like enough motivation to me.

* Marketing was a disaster. I asked a lot of my gaming friends if they saw the movie and their typical reply was that they didn't know anything about it. I mentioned that the author was the same guy who did Tarzan and they had heard of that character, so why didn't they push for that in the commercials?

* I would have gone to see a sequel, had they made one.
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by RobJN » Wed Dec 05, 2018 9:16 am

I thought it made for a pretty good sci-fantasy romp, having not read any of the original ERB books
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Morfie » Thu Dec 06, 2018 7:22 am

I've seen it twice, both at home. Still haven't read any of the stories though.
I liked it, but hiring a Director who had only ever worked on animated films was asking for trouble.
Spending an absolute ton of money on reshoots almost guaranteed it was never going to make enough $ to warrant a sequel.
Marketing was an absolute disaster.. dropping the "of Mars" bit. Releasing a Youtube video showing the opening 10 mins where it was basically a Western only. Not pushing any of the history so clueless reviewers wrote about how "derivative" it was.. when in fact the films it supposedly copied from were themselves inspired from the John Carter stories.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Sturm » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:12 am

Yes good movie, dropping the Mars was a huge mistake. Still it has its weak spots.
But a pity they will not do the two other planned movies.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Havard » Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:08 pm

I saw this movie in the theaters and I own a copy on BluRay. I really enjoyed the movie, but I recognize that it's not perfect. I see the problem with the dead wife subplot because it creates a very poignant tone which doesn't really mesh with the more comedic elements on Mars and when Carter is imprisoned in the first act. I enjoy both the more serious scenes and the comedic scenes, but they don't really mesh well. I also think they could have worked to make the characters more interesting. John Carter is the straight man and fish out of water, but the rest of the cast is pretty bland. I like the actress who played Dejah Thoris, but her character was pretty standard straight woman/romantic interest. The same thing with Tars Tarkas (didn't realize it was Willem DeFoe! :o). A more interesting dymantic between these three could have made the story a bit more personal.

I suspect that many audiences would also have felt like we have seen all of this before. But to me personally that was less of a problem. Marketing on the other hand, was a disaster which is a real shame.


I only had limited familiarity with the property before watching the movie, so that might have affected my opinion.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by finarvyn » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:35 pm

It's also strange to realize that the movie has been out for more than 6 years already. Yikes! This kind of thing makes me feel really old. :(
Havard wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:08 pm
I like the actress who played Dejah Thoris, but her character was pretty standard straight woman/romantic interest.
I actually liked the Dejah Thoris character in that the original books have a bit of a "save me" vibe but the movie version had a little more attitude. This may be what many folks didn't like about the character, since it changed. On the other hand, my daughter enjoyed the character a lot because Dejah ran around with a sword and was a scientist and did stuff. She hasn't read the books, either, so has no frame of reference on the matter.
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Havard » Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:50 pm

finarvyn wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 9:35 pm
Havard wrote:
Thu Dec 06, 2018 12:08 pm
I like the actress who played Dejah Thoris, but her character was pretty standard straight woman/romantic interest.
I actually liked the Dejah Thoris character in that the original books have a bit of a "save me" vibe but the movie version had a little more attitude. This may be what many folks didn't like about the character, since it changed. On the other hand, my daughter enjoyed the character a lot because Dejah ran around with a sword and was a scientist and did stuff. She hasn't read the books, either, so has no frame of reference on the matter.
I agree that shifting her towards a more independent action heroine is step in the right direction, but its not like we haven't seen this type of character before. So we are left with three fairly standard heroes and not a very interesting dynamic between them. I didn't dislike any of them, but it still feels like something is missing.

Overall I still liked the movie. Just disappointed it wasn't successful, but that's not just the fault of the movie.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by shesheyan » Thu Jan 31, 2019 3:58 pm

I was expecting a terrible movie after reading about the Disney debacle... In found it more entertaining than several superhero (Marvel and DC) movies and some Star Wars movies. At the beginning of this week I was trying to decide what novel the read next. I decided to read the Complete Chronicle of John Carter's adventurers, which I have never read.
Last edited by shesheyan on Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Illuminatus » Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:39 pm

I had several issues with the movie, but I’ll restrain myself to the biggest: they didn’t even bother to use the John Carter character from the books.

Instead of a supremely chivalrous and self-possessed 19th-century gentleman-warrior, they substituted the same generic, cliched, late-20th century tortured anti-hero from literally every Hollywood movie of the last 50 years. The character in the movie was NOT John Carter.

Why pay a license fee if you’re just going to make up a whole new character? They should have made “Dirk Baddassery, Reluctant Hero and Self-Pitying Jerk of Mars,” saved themselves the fee, and left the original property intact for someone who really wanted to make a John Carter movie.

(Now...please don't get me started on Schwarzenegger's Conan.)

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Havard » Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:56 pm

Illuminatus wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 5:39 pm
I had several issues with the movie, but I’ll restrain myself to the biggest: they didn’t even bother to use the John Carter character from the books.

Instead of a supremely chivalrous and self-possessed 19th-century gentleman-warrior, they substituted the same generic, cliched, late-20th century tortured anti-hero from literally every Hollywood movie of the last 50 years. The character in the movie was NOT John Carter.

Why pay a license fee if you’re just going to make up a whole new character? They should have made “Dirk Baddassery, Reluctant Hero and Self-Pitying Jerk of Mars,” saved themselves the fee, and left the original property intact for someone who really wanted to make a John Carter movie.
I'm sure they could have taken the character in a different direction. However, do you think the character as described by ERB could have worked for a modern audience? I havent read those stories, but from what other John Carter fans have described to me, it sounds like he would be very difficult to pull off without making changes.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Sturm » Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:14 pm

I have to (mostly) agree with Illuinatus here, even if I did not dislike much movie and character. The original John Carter was quite different and better. Only the lack of imagination and courage of the movie's writers and producers is to blame for not using him. I think he could have an an appeal to modern audience too, it's a classic and his old fashioned chivalry imo could have worked very well.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Yaztromo » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:41 pm

I can see some good logic here in splitting the issue in two:
1) is it a decent movie? It is not a masterpiece, but overall it is pretty good, compared to the competition. Strange it wasn't well launched and supported.
2) is it a movie reflecting strictly ERB's vision of John Carter of Mars as a character? Not that much, at all. Perhaps that kind of characters (a bit like most John Wayne's characters...) are considered out of fashion right now. Anyway, following the "mainstream" didn't seem to help much the movie to become a big success.
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Illuminatus » Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:43 pm

Havard wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 7:56 pm
..but from what other John Carter fans have described to me, it sounds like he would be very difficult to pull off without making changes.
Yeah, ERB’s characters could be pretty thin. I think the writers knew they had to do something to fill out JC, but what they wound up doing was turning the character completely inside-out and throwing away its essence.
Sturm wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:14 pm
I think he could have an an appeal to modern audience too, it's a classic and his old fashioned chivalry imo could have worked very well.
That was pretty much my thought when the movie came out...an actual movie hero who lived by a strict code of honor might be mind-bogglingly new and refreshing to today's audiences.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Sturm » Fri Feb 01, 2019 9:36 am

Illuminatus wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 10:43 pm
Sturm wrote:
Thu Jan 31, 2019 8:14 pm
I think he could have an an appeal to modern audience too, it's a classic and his old fashioned chivalry imo could have worked very well.
That was pretty much my thought when the movie came out...an actual movie hero who lived by a strict code of honor might be mind-bogglingly new and refreshing to today's audiences.
Indeed I had this impression when I read the books as a teen. Also because now (and in past decades even more), despite the fact that a lot of people pretend to uphold some sort of honor/chivalry, the ones who actually do it when no one is looking closely are very, very few. John Carter is presented as a character who does that in any circumstance, and this makes him a true hero, more than the physical abilities. IMO Burroughs conveys this very well in the books, but the movie was not so good.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Havard » Fri Feb 01, 2019 3:03 pm

I think that when you are making a movie about an exotic and weird setting you don't at the same time want a main character who also seems weird and different from what the audience is used to. You can do a fish out of water type story like Thor or Wonder Woman, but then you need a pretty standard world, or at least in the case of Wonder Woman, you need a straght man (Chris Pine in WW) to contrast the main character with.

The Barsoom stories have the limitation that the world is indeed weird and alien and the only human character is John Carter. Now, I don't know if a code of honor needs to be perceived as weird to the audience, but it needs to be done in a certain way to work. John Carter is our POV character so the audience needs to be able to identify with him and probably also like him.

In most movies, you will also want to give the main character an arc. Typically, pulp characters and many other characters from older ficiton do not have an arc. This is why Aragorn is completely different in the LotR movies than in the novel(s). I'm assuming the dead wife plot in John Carter was added both to give John Carter an arc and to make the audience sympathise with him.

I think for the most part this worked, but it did create some weird shifts in tone since they tried to combine this fairly dark theme of loss and grief with a fairly happy, adventurous and sometimes wacky story. A movie that pulls this off better is Guardians of the Galaxy which really manages to balance fun and adventure with some really dark undertones.

There are definitely ways they could have made John Carter's character different on screen than they did, but its hard to say if a different portrayal would have made for a better movie. Staying true to the original work is a common criticism when it comes to books adapted to film, but if you want a good movie you need to make some changes just because they are different mediums.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Yaztromo » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:25 pm

I understood that John Carter character was "rewritten" to be more "mainstream" and, somehow, I can understand it, as this was planned to be a mainstream movie and it is a common "sacrifice" that movie indutry asks to all novels converted into movies.
However, as the movie didn't appeal the "mainstream" enough and the results were disappointing for a mainstream movie, it was a hard sacrifice to accept, with hindsight. I can understand that hardcore ERB fans find it hard to accept, as it twists a lot the character, but the screenwriters couldn't know it. :(
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Havard » Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:21 pm

Yaztromo wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:25 pm
I understood that John Carter character was "rewritten" to be more "mainstream" and, somehow, I can understand it, as this was planned to be a mainstream movie and it is a common "sacrifice" that movie indutry asks to all novels converted into movies.
However, as the movie didn't appeal the "mainstream" enough and the results were disappointing for a mainstream movie, it was a hard sacrifice to accept, with hindsight. I can understand that hardcore ERB fans find it hard to accept, as it twists a lot the character, but the screenwriters couldn't know it. :(
I don't think the issue is turning it into a "mainstream" story. I think its simply that a story needs to be adapted to fit the movie medium. Some things simply will not work when you adapt a book to a movie. Hard core fans will often be disappointed with such adaptations, but ultimatelythere is no way around making certain changes. This doesn't mean the movie doesn't have problems though. And there is certainly more than one way to adapt a story into a movie. Other choices could have been made.

For instance, if they dropped the dead wife plot, they would have had to replace it with something else. Having a main character without an arc is possible, but very difficult to pull off. But they could have given him another arc, or they could have introduced some other elements to the story. Maybe made the story more about Dejah Thoris.

Utlimately, I don't think the quality of the movie was what caused it to be so disappointing commercially though. The awful marketing was the main reason why the movie failed. Dropping Mars from the title. That poster that told average movie goers nothing about what this movie was about. Some have even speculated that Disney wanted this movie to fail because they were already in talks to buy Star Wars from George Lucas. I don't know about that part.

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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Yaztromo » Wed Feb 06, 2019 11:20 pm

Havard wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 9:21 pm
Utlimately, I don't think the quality of the movie was what caused it to be so disappointing commercially though.
I agree.

EDIT: as far as I know, I think that the only movie adapted from a book that satisfied the readers more than the book itself was The Legend of the Holy Drinker (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Legen ... ker_(film)).
It is something really, really uncommon.
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Coronoides » Thu Feb 07, 2019 5:58 am

Here’s another question: without the movie would the current beautifully illustrated “John Carter of Mars” RPG exist?
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Re: John Carter movie

Post by Yaztromo » Thu Feb 07, 2019 4:07 pm

I don't know, but my feeling is that the expiry of the IP was a very important factor as well.
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