Sunday, March 11, 2012

That John Carter Guy...You Know, From Mars...

I had the unexpected pleasure of taking my woman out on a date last night to see a movie at a place we just heard about called "Movie Tavern." Pretty sweet place. It's a movie theater where you can get your usual popcorn and candy, but you can also get beer (I had a stein of Blue Moon. You heard me. A STEIN!) and real food. You order, you go sit in the theater, and they bring it to you. GENIUS. Why is this the only movie theater of its kind that I have seen? Seems like a no-brainer million-dollar idea to me.

Ok, now that I've given free publicity to my new favorite movie theater, lets get to the movie we saw. John Carter.

Our main motivation to see this movie was just to get out of the house for the night and actually go do something. We didn't care if the movie was going to suck or not, we just wanted to have have a few beers at the 'Tav (yeah, that's Mattspeak for Movie Tavern now) and not listen to our annoying, whiny dogs all night.

Dare I say it...I enjoyed the hell out of John Carter. Honestly, I thought it looked like every other "epic action blockbuster" movie they make these days, and to an extent it is but it was still a really fun movie to watch. There were a lot of funny parts that thankfully didn't go into Jar-Jar Binks territory (like it easily could have), and for a Disney film, this was pretty much a non-stop war movie with lots of blue blood and violence. The always-sinister-looking Mark Strong proved to be a really creepy villain, and even Bryan Cranston from "Breaking Bad" and "Malcolm In The Middle" fame had a brief cameo.

Despite how much my woman and I enjoyed the movie, I can't help but feel that its going to disappear quickly from the movie theaters. After all, the title of the movie kinda sucks and it looks like every other epic flick out there. Our movie theater was PACKED, though. Maybe it will get good word of mouth.

So yes, the movie was great. It was a lot of fun. Pretty much, it was like Star Wars meets Avatar. It wasn't Shakespeare, but it was certainly no Phantom Menace, that's for damn sure. Also, it has the gorgeous Lynn Collins as the femme fatale Dejah Thoris:

Yummy. Hell, lets go with another pic of this woman....this time from her brief time on HBO's "True Blood" as Dawn Green:

 Now, we can't drool all over a beautiful woman and talk about this movie unless I drop a bit of knowledge on you. 

John Carter isn't a new Disney character at all. He first appeared in the book "A Princess Of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs in 1917. 

The character went on to become a popular pulp story action hero in the '20's and '30's. He's appeared in several pulp magazines and comic books over the years. The most recent incarnation of his comic book life is in Dynamite Entertainment's "Warlord of Mars" series, which takes place in-between moments from the "Princess of Mars" novel.

The interesting thing to me about the "John Carter of Mars" mythos is how Burroughs made a story about an Earthman living in the barbarian setting of Mars as somewhat plausible. John Carter comes from the late 1800's, where he was cavalry soldier. He finds an artifact that transports him to Mars (or Barsoom, as the locals call it) where there is a whole civilization of people nearing the end of their time. What makes this interesting to me is that since "A Princess of Mars" was written in 1917, its entirely plausible for Burroughs to believe that life was possible on Mars when he wrote the book. So if you look at it in that regard, with everything that we know about Mars today (thank you, science!), a fan of the John Carter mythos could be led to believe that 100 years ago, maybe there was life on Mars! So what happened over the past 100 years that could have wiped out this lush and massive world that Burroughs created?

Of course, I live in the real world and I'm not an idiot, so that's not a serious question I would ever ask myself after just watching a movie based on a 100-year old character who's stories take place on what we know is a dead planet. But the point is, back in 1917 there was no such knowledge about Mars, and that makes the story that Edgar Rice Burroughs created much more endearing to me for some reason.

I hope this movie gets a fair shot in today's movie market. I would definitely be interested in seeing a sequel. The movie made me interested enough in the whole thing to research it a bit more. I don't think I'll be reading the comics (not with that $3.99 an issue price tag at least), but if I ever run across a copy of "A Princess of Mars," I'm going to pick it up. There's a good story here, people. All you gotta do is search it out.

Just make sure if you'll avoid the 2009 direct-to-DVD version of "Princess of Mars," with Antonio Sabato Jr. as John Carter and Traci Lords (yes, THAT Traci Lords) as Dejah Thoris.



  1. You ever see this tribute Superman comics had for John Carter?

  2. I want it! I used to always see the Marvel's "John Carter of Mars" comic in the discount bins. I wonder if that will change now.