Thursday, June 7, 2012

In short: John Carter (of Mars) (2012)

Adding insult to the many injuries Disney caused over the length of its existence - please don't get me started on their influence on the continuing prolonging of copyright into all eternity and keeping large parts of our cultural heritage locked up so they can make more money on that idiot mouse - is the inability of the company to hype this piece of actually awesome and fun blockbuster cinema into the at least minor hit it deserved to become.

It's got wonderful world-building, silly quips, romance, awesome (yes, I'll use this word again and again when talking of John Carter of Mars) action scenes, actually does a little more with its female characters than these films usual do (I'd watch a film that runs rough-shot over Burroughs and features the adventures of Lynn Collins's Dejah Thoris and Samantha Morton's Sola any time; oh, for a parallel universe), shows respect for its minor characters and makes awesome use of CGI effects. It even has a cute CGI dog monster thing that manages to be not annoying at all, for Cthulhu's sake! John Carter is certainly not a film to overburden the minds of the mainstream cinema public, but it, unlike the comparably budgeted films of the Bays and Bruckheimers of this world, is neither dumb, nor cynical, nor driven by an actual hatred of the human race; the film also just happens to be extremely fun once it gets going, taking what's good of its pulp roots and mostly leaving what isn't.

Of course, the film's not perfect. There are far too many superfluous introductory scenes, and the film gets a bit flabby around the waist once it enters its final ten minutes. Personally, I could also have lived without the flashbacks into Carter's (played by the unfortunately named Taylor Kitsch) traumatic past that seem to want to hammer home a point an audience should get on its own. However, the core of John Carter's running time is taken up by moments of awesome (see, I told you) fun that often even suggests the responsible filmmaker Andrew Stanton is pretty much in love with Burroughs's Barsoom - but obviously not with Burroughs's racism and sexism - and truly wants his audience to fall in love with it too. Worked well enough for me, as you can see.

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