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.