March 10th, 2012
I read all of Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter books when I was about 10, and loved them. I read the Marvel Comics version in the late 1970s as well. John Carter is basically a superhero in space with swords. That’s very appealing to the boy in me still. I’m not sure how well they would stand up for me today, more than 30 years later, but I remember them fondly.
So, I was very much looking forward to the movie, especially after reading Wired’s interview with sf writer Michael Chabon who wrote the script. Chabon is a better known and more award-winning writer than me to start with, but he was also apparently an even bigger fan of John Carter than me.
The movie wasn’t bad at all, and I liked it rather well. It won’t be in my top ten movies of all time, and maybe not even for the year, but it was competent, fun, and great eye candy. Some departures from the book made sense. I can buy it.
And it should be clear that Edgar Rice Burroughs was writing fantasy, even though a lot about Mars was unknown in the early 1900s when A Princess of Mars was written. Barsoom is not Mars, and I liked the way the movie handled that.
So, no “Science and Science Fiction: John Carter” posts. It would have to be “Science and Fantasy: John Carter” and I don’t tend to evaluate fantasies with the same standards. There is no air on Mars, no advanced lifeforms. A human on Mars would not leap as high as John Carter. The moons don’t look right and don’t seem to move right. Where’s the base of the food chain to support all those people? I didn’t see grain fields or the equivalent. Etc. It’s fine, it’s a fantasy, and a fun one. I hope they make a sequel.
Check out the movie and enjoy it. Still not sure? Here’s a ten-minute scene from the movie involving the 19th century frame of the story:
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