Why John Carter REALLY Bombed at the Box Office: My Thoughts on the Movie
Let’s talk really fast about John Carter (of Mars). I know the film’s been out for awhile, but if you’ve kept on my blog, you know that I’m pretty much behind on EVERYTHING. But the bf and I went and saw it in the dollar theater the other night and as we left the movie, I could only promise that I would pay him his dollar back.
I knew going into the movie that John Carter was one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, with Disney having to make a 200 million write-off because of it, thus making it probably the only movie this summer not getting a sequel anytime soon. I’d read articles before I saw the movie questioning why Disney’s sands-and-sandals-plus-aliens-on-Mars-kinda-sorta vehicle wasn’t the huge success that everyone thought it was going to be. People blamed the marketing team, the uncultured masses who don’t know what an Edgar Rice Burroughs is, the fact that it sparred off with The Hunger Games opening weekend and all sorts of other excuses for why this mega-million dollar movie tanked. For me personally, I think the answer is very clear.
This movie just blows.
Honestly, even if Disney hadn’t hired morons for the advertising, even if people had known that it was based on source material written by the same guy who wrote Tarzan and even if it had opeened a week before Hunger Games came out, this movie would still have flopped because it’s just not very good. At all.
There are plot holes you can drive a spaceship through: Why does bald alien Mark Strong need humans to do his evil bidding when he can clearly control and destory all of them in a heartbeat? Why is Mars populated with about 80% humans and only 20% aliens? Why can the humans on Mars breathe? They don’t seem to have any different anatomy than humans on Earth, so how can they breathe in a planet that we know doesn’t have air? How come John Carter can bunny-hop like that? What’s with all this copy stuff? When did that come into play?
The plot is pretty convoluted with a forced love story and a rushed ending.
First of all, the epic battle at the end was completely rushed, non-suspenseful and it just dissipated by the end once Bald Mark Strong disappeared into thin air. Two seconds later, we cut to a wedding taking place presumably on top of thousands of decomposing corpses. Romance! And just when you think the movie is FINALLY OVER, it throws a twist when John, like an idiot, throws the transporter thing off and then Bald Mark Strong comes back and sends him back to earth. I will admit, I found this part actually interesting because I didn’t see it coming and it provided an intersting twist.
But guess what, I didn’t care because by that time two and a half hours of this suck fest had already gone by. I was ready to leave by the time the Gladiator/Attack of the Clones knock-off filler scene came on. And after John Carter gets sent back to Earth, I end up doubly not caring becuase the movie does a rushed one minute solution to the problem by having him fake his death with pufferfish poison (which just comes out of nowhere) and getting his nephew to open the vault, allowing him to kill shapeshifty Mark Strong. Somehow. I’m sure there would have been a much easier, less convuluted way to do that, but okay.
Did I mention this movie is long? And it feels long. I can sit and pay attention to a movie for a long time even if it’s a bad one, but I was fidgeting in my seat like a four-year-old with ADD. At least Pirates of the Carribbean’s three-hour running time had Johnny Depp. All I get is Taylor Kitsch (who?) and some Megan Fox look-a-like. Plus, the setting doesn’t even look like Mars. It looks like the last half of the Last Crusade. Or Utah. Potentially both.
I feel bad because I like Andrew Stanton and I can tell the Disney people do too with the amount of money that they threw at him for this. I like you, Andrew. I loved Finding Nemoand named it one of my top five favorite movies of all time. What happened? Everything just got tossed out the window on this one and you just went crazy like a teenager who gets a nice shiny Corvette for his birthday. I almost completely forgot this was from Disney and a Pixar guy, especially with the G-D word
thrown in there and the near nudity. Don’t think I didn’t miss Taylor’s bum, House of Mouse.
Anyway, I’ll wrap up what was supposed to be a brief overview and turned into a long rant. Do I think this movie had potential? Mmmm, no. Not at all. There’s a reason why Burroughs’ novels have fallen out of fashion in recent years and it’s becasue they’re really dated. It seems like Stanton and the writers tried to stay as close to the source material as possible which is a noble effort, but you just have to realize that it just won’t jive with audiences today. It has to be updated for an audience that now has higher standards for the movies they watch. Is the CGI impressive? Oh yes. It looks like $250 million, but as even one of the directors in Pixar should know, the effects shouldn’t be the point of the movie.
And maybe it’s because of the swords-and-sandals thing, but this movie reminds me of Clash of the Titans, which I did actually enjoy. But where Clash of the Titans succeeded for me is that it didn’t take itself seriously. Like, at all. Everyone involved knew that Clash was chessy and stupid to the max, but had fun doing it anyway. You can tell that Liam Nesson and Ralph Fiennes/Aslan and Voldemort/Schindler and That Evil Nazi Guy had a lot of fun being together on-screen again as God and Satan. Or “Zeus” and “Hades”, whatever. But John Carter takes itself waaayy too seriously. It’s trying to be epic. It’s trying to seem smart. It’s trying to be Gladiator meets Star Wars and it just . . . fails.
Unintentionally Hilarious Lines:
“Beans. The first item on the list is BEANS!”
“My right hands have betrayed me!”
“Maybe I ought to get behind you.” -John Carter to Megan Fox Look-A-Like
The major city being attacked is called Helium. Which makes it hard to take the movie seriously when they’re constantly referencing things such as “Princess of Helium,” “We must destory Helium,” “Don’t you care about Helium?”
Seriously, the hopping scene when John Carter first arrives on Mars is the most ridiculous thing put to film.
This movie was dedicated to Steve Jobs, who now turns in his grave.