3D and John Carter Enter Greenbriar's Cave
Remember talk of the 1963 Cleopatra nearly breaking Fox, and Heaven's Gate a near-scuttler for United Artists? Nowaday it seems Disney can lose a staggering $200 million on a single feature and easily keep lights on, as was case last year with John Carter, an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burrough's other-worldly adventure. My untypical dip into contempo waters was fruit of drunkenness over 3D at home, viewing appetite not sated by mere pair of oldies so far available (Dial M For Murder and Creature From The Black Lagoon). I come post-screening to find, however, that John Carter was not shot in 3D, being instead "converted" to the depth process in post-production. Rather than holler fake or foul, I'll admit to it looking pretty good to these untrained eyes, mindful withal of experts who online-declare it "inept" and a cheat. Maybe getting older makes me easier to please.
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Now to the movie: JC is sci-fi, and naysayers claim it rustles off previous sci-fi pix more than from content of Burrough's novel, A Princess Of Mars, credited basis for most of John Carter. Seems I once had a book of that with cover art by Frank Frazetta --- anyway there was awareness of the character dating even further to
I realize present pics traffic in mythology, but having missed all the Rings saga, plus Hobbits and Harry Potter, this viewer sits ill-equipped to grasp alternate reality lingo. Understanding modern fantasy is for me like strain toward mastery of a really complicated remote or cell phone. It can't be done, amigo. I thus suspend judgment of a John Carter and concede that maybe it's me and not the narrative that's confused. JC creators of a thirty-frame-per-second generation may rightfully consign Greenbriar to closet space with Mole People and Queens Of Outer Space better understood by decaying intellects. By way of further intimidation by modern sci-fi, there is Prometheus, which I'm forty minutes into and utterly undone by (it's got great 3D, though). A friend said I should watch 1979's Alien again in order to get it, but no can do, or better put, no will do. The march to Prometheus finish will eventually be made, with maybe further report from that field.
I read that John Carter was shot twice. Really? Has that been done since The Big Trail and Cinemascope 55? There was a young director whose first live action feature this was, by name of Andrew Stanton, who was born in 1965, approximate time I got through and comprehended Robinson Crusoe On Mars. There are flashbacks to John Carter, layers of them, Passage To Marseille a game of checkers by comparison. They don't call this red planet "Mars," but instead "Barsoom," which I thought was just another device to belittle me, if not a musical instrument, but then I found out it originated with Burroughs, so am willing to stand down. There are animated aliens by thousands sharing frame space; action highlights taken in a right spirit can astound. Warring tribes are "Therns" as opposed by "Helium"-folk, with trouble-makers out of "Zodanga," such names neither tripping off the tongue (spell check going nuts here) or readily retrievable by the memory (pause for phone or toilet saw me lost again).
There are neat effects where John Carter, his gravity halved for being on Mars, leaps across landscape after super-hero fashion. He has a Martian (or Basoomian) doggish creature for comic relief that's not so oppressive as robot appendages to Star Wars and like imitators. John Carter was chided for borrow of devices from the latter group of SW's, none of which I saw, thus my coming to this unsullied. A princess is here to be rescued with varied villains to rout. You could argue that John Carter is for kids and dumbbells, but so was plenty I grew up with and still enjoy watching. Thirty years from now, there will be those who will call JC classic, and maybe lead man Taylor Kitsch will buy groceries with cash got from autograph shows. Paul Mantee from Robinson Crusoe On Mars has done as much for decades now, and plenty of my generation consider him an ongoing cat's meow.