INTRODUCTION: This post is dedicated to Brandie Wendling Roberts who wrote on her Facebook page “I am watching John Carter on Spike instead of the Oscars while cutting quilt squares. And I don’t feel any less cool. ♡” Indeed my friend. And now I shall review John Carter for you. 🙂
OVERALL: Wow. What a movie!
POINTS: Heroines! Mars! Cool space ships! World travel! Gravity fields! Martian dog! Fun story! Yeah, I liked it.
PITFALLS: See Cultural Pitfalls below.
FEMALE CHARACTER(S): What glorious heroines!!! Oh but we LOVE you Dejah Thoris played by Lynn Collins. What an amazing heroine! Strong, powerful, feminine and oh so fully realized. And you Sola played by Samantha Morton more LOVE!! What amazing characters. So full bloodied and realized. I love them! Plus they are John Carter’s buddies and not just love or sex objects. Especially Sola who really is his sidekick. So awesome.
Now here is also a BIG point for me: Older women got to speak and be dressed beautifully. Usually women beyond the age of 40 are trashed in movies and never seen except for the butt of jokes for being unattractive. (Wow, juvenile much.) But in John Carter we have several older women with wrinkles in beautiful clothes speaking and holding positions of power. AND TAKING UP SCREEN TIME! OMG!!! I am so impressed. I loved it.
CULTURAL PITFALL(S): 1.) The Name. What I am about to write has been mentioned by others many times over the world. The book that inspired this movie is called A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Let’s write that again: A Princess of Mars. This book was seminal in 20th century American pulp fiction and science fiction. This book, the first of a series, inspired many science fiction and fantasy (SF/F) writers. People who know SF/F know the name A Princess of Mars. So when the name A Princess of Mars flashes across the screen people in the audience would get excited, right? I mean SF/F fans would be “Whooo hooo!!! Let’s see this!” Non-SF/F fans would be “Oooo Mars has a princess? Cool! That sounds interesting! I’m going to see that movie!” Awesome. The name is an instant, golden marketing opportunity! Good thing they used it.
Yeah, that last line was typed with great, dripping sarcasm.
The Powers That Be (PTB) used strange sexist brain cells and reasoning and named the movie John Carter. Now yes, the hero and main protagonist of this story is John Carter, BUT that name is not going to mean anything to anyone except the hardcore SF/F and Burroughs fans, thus destroying the wow factor. Plus audiences are going to see the words John Carter with an SF looking movie and think “Huh?”
So all of the great advertising and excitement that could have been generated by the simple, original title was tossed to the wind. Because, hey, I guess mentioning a woman in the title is a bad idea. Or so thought director Andrew Stanton – see article here. Also read the article from The Mary Sue. I personally think that because the PTB didn’t use the famous title their movie didn’t so well. It is also argued that when the movie preview didn’t thrill audiences, they stopped pushing the movie. Now the movie did turn a profit, just not the one the producers wanted. Thu, many speculate, was John Carter a victim of sexism in the film industry. So dear PTB: You probably would have made all of your money back and then some if you had kept the original name. Come on director Stanton, you directed two incredible female characters. What’s with the sexist nonsense in the title change? You should have left it.
2.) Actors’ Races. Ok, this is an SF movie. That means that since many of the characters are either CGI or covered in ruddy coloring make-up, you could have many races playing the characters in the movie. I have a feeling most of the talking parts were played by European descent people. Hmmm… Look there could have been a huge variety of color on the set. It would be good to give jobs to Actors of Color too. Especially in a movie where it really won’t matter.
HIGH POINT(S): 1.) Beautiful movie. 2.) Wonderful characters. 3.) Cool plot twists and turns. 4.) Oh heck the whole darn thing.
RACIAL BECHDEL TEST (Website): No search results at this time. However, well it is an SF movie and there are Martians in the movie with very ruddy skin. However I think they are all played by white people – drat.
IMDB: John Carter (2012)
OFFICIAL MOVIE WEBSITE: John Carter | Disney Movies
DVD/BLU-RAY WORTHY: I own it. I watch it. I love it!
LION PAW PRINTS: 3 out of 5. Oh but it is good.