Sunday, March 11, 2012

John Carter, Warlord of Movies

I'm not sure if it's good or bad when a major studio makes a movie that you think is absolutely terrific -- and the critics and most of the moviegoing public disagrees.

If it's a low-budget film, you may view it as a badge of coolness, of exclusivity. It just means that your tastes are singular; and since the film didn't cost much to make, you know that it will likely find enough of an audience to make a buck.

But if the movie is JOHN CARTER, reputedly one of the most expensive movies ever (and with a cast dim on star power, every cent is on the screen), there's a tinge of sadness to the same audience that embraced AVATAR showing a lack of interest in a far pulpier (and to me more entertaining) adaptation of the story that antedated AVATAR, and FLASH GORDON, and every story in which a warrior from our world finds himself stranded in another, far more romantic one. Because while Hollywood sometimes, ever so rarely, bets on long odds, it seldom bets on the same number twice.

For me, the special effects of our era were created specifically to take this brass-tubed, wood-stocked, sword-swinging vision of another world, envisioned by Tarzan creator Edgar Rice Burroughs almost exactly 100 years ago, and plaster it on the screen in dazzling color. And AVATAR and STAR WARS, as entertaining as they are, were in some ways test runs before bringing their ancestor to the screen.

Yet the critics and audiences have bet against the movie on its opening weekend. We can hope that the movie will find its legs over time, if it stays in theaters long enough for word of mouth to generate business. But if not, then we are unlikely to see another movie of this ilk for a while. And that's a shame.

I recommend seeing JOHN CARTER, in the theater, with its otherworldly vision glowing on a huge screen, while you can. So that you can let the studios know that they should make movies for us.

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