‘John Carter’ Movie: Boo! Hiss! Away Wi’ Ye!

I’m going to do something today that I’ve never done before–review a movie sight-unseen: this after having seen stills and trailers, and read a thorough summary of what is laughingly called a plot.

Disney’s John Carter is more than just this year’s biggest box-office bomb. It is a crime.

Edgar Rice Burroughs was famous for creating Tarzan, but he also wrote eleven novels set in the world of Barsoom–Mars–and featuring the immortal John Carter. This year is the 100th anniversary of A Princess of Mars, the first of the Martian series and Burroughs’ first published novel. (Tarzan of the Apes was second.)

The Martian novels were the finest stories Burroughs ever wrote, by far his most creative work. They are haunting. NASA and the Jet Propulsion Lab are full of men and women whose young imaginations were set on fire by these books, and that fire still burns. Quite a few young writers were inspired by them, too–including yours truly. Fifty years after making their acquaintance, I still read them with admiration and delight.

And along comes this abomination of a movie…

What they did, it seems, was to take elements of several Martian tales, randomly selected by not-very-bright 11-year-olds, throw them into a blender along with a lot of gobbledygook that they made up themselves, and, voila! A hebephrenic mish-mosh of a story that wouldn’t hold up if it had suspenders.

Great works of art are never improved by two-legged amoebas in Hollywood trying to make them more like video games. John Carter looks like a jigsaw puzzle put together by monkeys.

By all means, read ERB’s Martian novels: you’ll never forget them. But if you have any respect at all for writers and their work, approach this movie as you would an attic full of really irritable brown recluse spiders.

I love my art; it is God’s gift to me. I love the art displayed by other writers, which inspires my own efforts. And when this art is abused by dolts in Hollywod whose only inspiration is to make a buck… well, it gets my dander up.

8 comments on “‘John Carter’ Movie: Boo! Hiss! Away Wi’ Ye!

  1. Just as always, Hollywood can take a perfectly good story and turn it into
    trash without even half trying. It is genetic with them, they are simply helpless to avoid it. What a shame.

  2. No, I do not feel very charitable toward them. That was “tongue in cheek”
    I consider them hopeless, and so avoid their products almost entirely.
    Some old movies made in the 30’s, 40’s and even early 50’s were a lot
    better, but these days nothing they churn out makes a bit of sense.

    1. It’s very rare to find a decent movie, these days. Hardly worth trying.
      My reply to you was tongue-in-cheek, too.

  3. Disney has fallen far from the lofty perch it sat on at the beginning. Shame on them.

    1. Somebody finally makes a movie of these wonderful fantastic books, and it sucks! I know it’s hard to make a good fantasy movie, just like it’s hard to write a good fantasy in the first place. But this was unforgivable.

  4. So tell us your real opinion of this movie, Lee; don’t be shy! 🙂 Seriously, I understand the outrage at how film-makers can turn splendid works of art into (shall we say) the result of a strong emetic. You should have heard me go on and on about what the BBC did to Shakespeare in their 1980s series — or, rather, manglings — of his plays.

    I love your term “two-legged amoebas.” And obviously, those deformed protozoa aren’t limited to Hollywood.

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