Sunday, March 11, 2012

Saw John Carter. Loved it. What the hell, people?



So I don't usually go on and on like this about a movie, you'd think I have a vested interest in John Carter or something, and I don't, but there was just something about the atmosphere of negativity leading up to this movie that pissed me off. It wasn't coming from people who had seen it. That was the thing. From what Jim had heard online from the comic book podcasts, what I had seen on Twitter from some people I think well of, it was promising. I like the trailer, the director, the writer, and the cast. And yet, there was this aura of savagery like a pit of sharks that couldn't wait to tear this movie apart.

Exhibit A, from Deadline Hollywood, the comments section to a post on the eve of release:

I am so looking forward to Nikki’s hatchet job on JOHN CARTER/DISNEY tomorrow. This is going to bomb so deliciously… don’t hold back Nikki! :) 
Comment by Alex — Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 5:08pm PST  REPLY TO THIS POST 
Hahaha, me too. I’m going to curl up in a warm blanket with a glass of wine to read it. 
Comment by Tammy — Thursday March 8, 2012 @ 8:40pm PST  REPLY TO THIS POST 


Really, people? That's how you spend your evenings, chortling over nasty reviews? Sad. On the same comment thread, thank goodness, there were a lot of comments that I could relate to, a la: wherefore the savage glee, monsters

Anyway, I planned to see the movie Friday but babysitting fell through so I just saw it tonight and I LOVED it. I want to see it again. It's a big movie with an epic scope, aliens, creatures, cool flying craft, consequences, characters I cared about (and didn't mind looking at), and it's got heart. If I tried, I could probably find some criticisms, but why try? Why not just enjoy? Why does everyone have to be a critic? I'm not saying "Everyone, I decree that you like everything," but first: 

--if you don't like something, why must you crusade to destroy it, twirling your villain mustache and laughing as the creative passions of others are stamped to dust? 

and more importantly ...

--I feel a little bit like the ability to enjoy has been eclipsed by this need to Be Better Than, to prove oneself Smarter Than, to show that one is NO FOOL WHO GOES AROUND JUST ENJOYING THINGS NO-SIREE-BOB NOT ME. Like, enjoying fun movies is for the hoi polloi. It reminds me a little bit of my 9-year-old-circa-1981 self giving someone a withering look regarding Dukes of Hazard and stating, in acid tones of condescension, "I watch Nero Wolfe." Thenk you very much

I'm not saying to settle for trash! (OR Dukes of Hazard!) I'm not saying love every jaded giant franchise big-budget action flick that comes along with tinny dialogue, no heart, gigantic fritter-away-all-narrative-tension climaxes, etc etc. I really feel like this is not that. And moreover, movies that are unapologetically that, do not get the kind of shit that John Carter has gotten. 

John Carter is the kind of movie I love. It is big and panoramic, it employs kick-ass concept artists (jobs for artists!) in the creation of a cool world with cool weapons and outfits and tattoos and cities and creatures. It's has a palpable emotional core. The burial scene choked me up. The stars had chemistry, and there's a lot of humor. In short, I loved it.

If you didn't like it, you disagree with me violently, fine. 

If you didn't go see it because of this attitude of doom, don't listen to those misery-mongers. Maybe you'll love it like I did. Give it a shot.

P.S. It's great for older kids/families. The violence is of the Indiana Jones variety, you know, there's body count but in a vague kind of bloodless way (except for the blue blood, ha!), and there's no sex. Just lots of pecs and midriffs :-)


**added next day: I have been "informed" on Twitter of something I have heard circulating regarding the desire to see John Carter fail, and it's that people "in the industry" have "good reason" to want it to fail because of Disney's business practices or something. Well, I have no idea what this means. It's possible that someone "in the industry" could explain it to me in a way that would make me go, "Ohhhh," but I very very VERY much doubt that whatever this Disney wrongdoing is (and if it is), it would make me root for fail. Because seriously, WTF? You know what that reminds me of? People who give a book 1 star on Amazon because the dealer shipped it badly, or who trash an author because of something the publisher did or was perceived to do. 

I understand, in weak private moments -- ahem -- how one might have a nasty inner twinge of schadenfreude or ill will; in my experience, when one is, ehh, molested by such unworthy feeling -- it is like a dark moth batting around your head, stinking and leaving soot stains -- it is because of jealousy, and is short-lived. Better nature prevails, and you keep it the eff to yourself. The end.




34 comments:

Ebony said...

Great post, totally agree with what you're saying. These days, people are rejecting or trashing books and movies as a matter of course. This is the opposite of what we should be doing. I cant help but think that if we all walked in to the movie theatre with an open mind, we'd walk out alot happier. It's like with art - I've seen pieces in my local art galley that did nothing for me. But I would never then attack the worth of that artwork, because my tastes don't define what is 'good' or 'bad'.
All things have some merit to be found, and we owe it to all the time and hard work that has been spent on movies etc to genuinely look for it.

Sarah said...

Thank you!!! I'm going to see this on Tuesday, and I'm so glad to see such a positive review! I thought that it looked good, but people I've mentioned it to either haven't heard of it or weren't planning on going to see it!

(And I'm glad you mentioned that there's no sex... I'm going to see it with a guy on a first date and I didn't want things to be awkward!)

Anonymous said...

Did you get the feeling that only a loser would admit to to liking a movie about some place called Barsoom? Because that's the vibe I am getting. It's okay to watch completely silly cops and robber movies and completely silly rom-coms, but Golden Age Sci Fi is for people suffering from arrested development. WTF?

I won't be able to see the movie for months, but I'm glad that there are people to say they are Proud John Carter watchers!

Computer Rental San Diego said...
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Anonymous said...

Whoops, I meant that was the vibe I was getting from the mainstream reviewers. Not from you, Laini.

BookishBabe said...

At your urging, I gathered friends for an opening weekend Carter-palooza. REPRESENT! Two random teens walked out grumbling at the romantic climax, and I wanted to shout, "Oh, come on! This is ten times the epic of Star Wars and a universe of better scripting and acting!" At the end of the movie, the guy in front of us told his date, "Are you kiddin' me? This one's all on you. I coulda been watchin' Underworld." I don't know if these people thought they were going to be getting an ArtHouse Theatre Experience, but I got what I was looking for. (Loved the plot twists) Shannon Hale posted once about choosing to ask ourselves how the book failed us rather than trashing a work or assigning the author to the fires. Better to ask ourselves what we were looking for as a reader/moviegoer that we didn't get rather than trashing something with our self-reverential cleverness. Sounds like a much more productive approach.

Catherine Denton said...

"to show that one is NO FOOL WHO GOES AROUND JUST ENJOYING THINGS NO-SIREE-BOB NOT ME." Oh Laini, this line made me laugh so hard. Probably because I'm sometimes guilty of it. Thanks for poking fun and helping us regain that sense of enjoyment.

As for John Carter, I ended up not being able to go BUT I convinced friends to go see it, does that count? They liked it, by the way! I'm hoping to take my son this week.
Catherine Denton

Amanda said...

I went to see John Carter because of your last post. I planned to see it anyway, but I wanted my dollars TO COUNT. So, anyhow, I loved it. I'll buy the DVD, I look forward to seeing it again, and man, I wish I was as beautiful as the princes. :)

Alysa said...

Let me tell you the (unfinished) story of myself and John Carter. I saw a preview for it. Can't remember where or how, but I do remember finishing the preview thinking, "What is that movie even about? It looks like it will have a lot of intense music and fighting. Not my thing."

Then you posted about it, and told me there was an actual sci-fi/fantasy story to the thing, and I was like, "Huh, I might like to go to that. Sounds fun."

But then I remembered that it's really tough for me to see movies at this point in my life. It costs me so much (in both time and relative money) that it is rarely worth it. So I almost never go. There's the two kids, ages 3 and 1 to find a sitter for (we're not close to family, but we do have some people we regularly swap with). There's the cost of a couple movie tickets, which is actually rather prohibitive for our family. A friend recently told me she cancelled her cable in favor of netflix, to save money and get only what she wanted. She was looking at me like "isn't that a great idea, you should do it too!" so I told her truthfully that we cancelled our netflix to save money and now just go to the library. Point being that it's not worth it to my husband and I to pay 8 bucks a month for unlimited movies, so it is only very rarely worth it to us to pay 16 or more to see just one movie in the theater.

Finally, and I hate to even admit this is a (minor) issue, but there's the emotional comparison aspect. That is, I find myself saying to myself, "I went to see 6 of 8 Harry Potter movies in the theater. It was practically a family tradition. But I did not go to numbers 7 and 8," because of above stated reasons. "And now I'm thinking of seeing John Carter? Which I know so little about and is not even the movies in theaters that I want to see the most?" I wanted to see Arietty pretty bad, and now it's gone. I want to see The Artist, and I want to see The Hunger Games so badly that I might actually see it in the theater (though probably not on opening weekend). So. John Carter. Would I watch it? Sure! It sounds fun. But does my desire overcome the obstaces? Well, it hasn't yet.

Sigh.

There is one movie that I'm committed to seeing opening weekend, though. I'm even planning to travel if it doesn't come to my town. That would be Austenland.

Lillian said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, for your post--I second the comment, "to show that one is NO FOOL WHO GOES AROUND JUST ENJOYING THINGS NO-SIREE-BOB NOT ME." YEAAAHHHH! Several times a week I get the feeling that those around me think I'm a little touched in the head for being so excited about what I've just read, watched, seen, painted, woven. . .you get the idea.

I saw the preview for JOHN CARTER when I went to see WARHORSE and thought it looked cool. I haven't gotten to see it because someone (one of those non-enjoying people I work with, I bet!) gave me the flu and I've been at home being sick!

Thanks, again, Laini, for your comments.

The Geek Bride said...

After hearing that there was negative-buzz surrounding this movie, I made it a point to ignore all reviews (good, bad, so-so) and went to see it this weekend with hubby - note that I actually had no idea what the movie was about. We LOVED IT!!! I truly enjoyed the characters, the epic story, and well, everything. I kept thinking, "Wow, this comes from a story written nearly 100 years ago!" and that really blew my mind. Hubby, geek that he is, said he thought it was better than all the Star Wars movies ;)

If there's a movie out there that you're dying to see, DON'T READ THE REVIEWS! Go, watch, and make up your own mind.

anne said...

isn't it funny (but not hilarious) how negativity becomes a "fashion", and how vague rumors of "whatever" (like the disney what-have-you) motivate people to do or not do something ---and generally, no one even "knows" what "they" are talking about/ referring to? but the desire to appear In The Know has them all following along.....
It's a movie -- supposed to be entertainment, yes? so, if you are entertained by it, regardless of all the crap about why it is or isn't Quite the Thing, who the heck cares? some people put it together, worked on it, here it is, go see if you want, or not. but don't kick it, ya know? IF your official paying job is Movie Critic, well, yeh, then I guess you can, but.....perhaps we should just sit around and feel sorry for these folks who have so little happening in their lives they have to attack movies........
Great post Laini!

Laini Taylor said...

Love these comments. Thanks everyone for weighing in! :-)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for writing this post!! I saw John Carter this Saturday, and, even if it wasn't the most perfect movie or whatever, I still enjoyed it very much. I especially liked the dog-like creature, and the cultures that were shown.

~Ana

clenna said...

I took my 11 year old grandson, who loves weird characters and fighting scenes, to see the movie. We both loved it.
We even saw it in 3D. It was fun and entertaining. Lots of action and strong characters. My favorite scene was when the Princess and John were battling aliens. John tells the Princess to stand behind him and he'd protect her. She shoves him away and destroys the alien. Then she looks at John and says, maybe you should stand behind me!

I'd love to see it again.

June G said...

I read negative one star reviews in the paper and this did influence me not to see it, but you've done just the opposite! You've made it sound so good, I've got to go and check it out. I didn't have a clue about what it's about.

I hate when people bash books, movies. If you don't like something, you don't have to try to destroy it. I've read that some of the kids from the Hunger Games movie were dissing Twilight. They should be so fortunate. Sounds like they're already full of themselves and the movie hasn't even come out yet. Ugh!

Christy said...

Hey Laini!

I wanted to see it anyway, but when you posted about going on opening weekend, I made a point to go. I even got a couple friends to go with me! :)

And I must say that I thought it was GREAT!!! (and better than the most recent Star Wars movies)Yes, the idea of the other planet being Mars is silly, but who cares?! It was a great story. I LOVED the end.

I hope Daughter turns out even better when it's on the big screen!!!!!!!

Kate said...

Very good points! :) Well said Laini! :) Thanks for this post! :)

buy makeup online said...

you are a great writer.. Keep posting Buddy!!

Rebs @ Book-Rants said...

I saw this on the weekend and I loved it!!

Jet said...

I just want to say that I love you kind of a lot. I am thrilled with your unabashed enthusiasm for the things that turn you on. I pointed my daughter to you, and she just came home from college for spring break, pushing her kindle into my hands so that I will read Daughter, which has been on my TBR list since it came out, but she doesn't want me to wait one more minute. Also, she read Pure based on your recommendation, and cannot stop talking about that, either. We've been talking books since she started talking. I love that we're talking about your books now. Your posts on John Carter remind me of John Green's definition of a nerd as someone who really, really likes things. It's really fun when you really, really like things.

Mobi said...

i like ur post amazing , thanks for sharing

Phoebe said...

Saw it last week with my mother, who has been reading ERB since she was twelve. We loved it. Does it have the same plot as Flash Gordon, Avatar, and bits and pieces of Star Wars? Sure. But geeze, people, that's because it came first.

Katherine Traylor said...

Actually, I went to see it expecting to enjoy it, and ended up not liking it at all. It had its cute moments, but I didn't think the acting was very good and the frame device was really awkward. For the money, I thought it could have been a lot better. I agree that it's not very nice to make sport of dissing things, but everyone's entitled to their opinions, and the internet is the perfect place to share them.

J.W. Nickles said...

Wow, Laini, I can't thank you enough for this very thoughtful post. Truly, what IS going on out there? I am a writer/artist, and my husband is an independent filmmaker who recently endured just this sort of bizarrely scathing commentary...BEFORE his movie even came out. I find it especially frustrating when people tear down newcomers or independent artists - those who don't have the option of consoling themselves with enormous paychecks if their projects are panned... Of course, there have always been people who tear down the creative work of others (often without producing any such work themselves), but the internet just makes so many more of them visible. I've decided to take your lead and fight back with positivity - can't wait to go see John Carter!

Best wishes and many thanks for your gorgeously written, entertaining and inspiring books - I am very much looking forward to the sequel to DoSaB!

Starry 1stars said...

Thank-you for this thoughtful, refreshing post! We have linked to you from our web site as an example of embracing positivity and civility.

Anonymous said...

I went to see John Carter with my 10 year old son and his friend. We enjoyed the movie greatly! It is an action packed and fun filled movie with interesting characters and incredible special effects. It is a great movie for older kids and parents. I will see it again. We saw it in IMAX 3D and it was a fun ride and very entertaining.

Mary-Margaret said...

It is so upsetting that we are still hearing negative comments about this movie. We loved it in the theater and have bought the DVD and have watched it twice already. I am reading the books now. It is like there is some conspiracy going on. Why don't we talk about Clash of the Titans #2 (awful). John Carter was better than the Avengers in my opinion. People are sheep- if you tell them a movie bombs during opening weekend you are setting yourself up for failure.

Khanada said...

Thank you for such a wonderful blog post about this. You are not alone in your admiration for John Carter and your bafflement over how badly it was treated by the press. Thousands of us worldwide are just as mystified and frustrated. I fell in love with the movie and saw it 7 times in the theater and several more at home since the dvd release. And those tweets you shared! Those are very very telling! If you'd like to join us in our campaign to turn public opinion of John Carter around and get those sequels made, we'd LOVE to have you. You can find all of our info and links at backtobarsoom.com. Thanks again and I love the comments here, too. :)

diegomom50 said...

I went to see John Carter when it 1st came out and was lucky enough to see it in IMAX. I had no idea that the source material was a 100 years old. I left the theater walking on air. I loved it. I am now a part of a group trying to convince Alan Horn the new head of Disney movies to allow Andrew Stanton to complete the trilogy he envisioned. Do we really need a rebooted Spiderman and Superman. Do we really need an Anchorman 2 or Ghostrider 2. The fans of this movie are clamoring for the trilogy. Take me back to Barsoom

JC Fan 4 Life said...

Thanks for posting this and being one of the select few who actually gets John Carter. We have to be careful - others might join us and wake up the sheeple who took a pass on this wonderful film. And then where would we be? A sequel maybe? Nah, let's just sit through endless Step Ups, Fast and Furiouses, Resident Evils, Underworlds, etc...Who needs another amazing John Carter film that the rest of America just just going to crap all over. Let them eat cake!

Anonymous said...

I totally agree. I decided to watch John Carter despite the negative reviews, and I absolutely loved it! It had a great storyline, great characters, and wonderfully imaginative creativity, in all aspects of the film. Call me crazy, but there was just something so alluring about it, I didn't want it to end. If you like good wholesome movies then John Carter's the one to see.

Anonymous said...

Very old posting but I was recently going to re-watch this. Saw it originally with my ex-gf we both loved it. Mostly because it seemed very different at the time and somewhat dune-ish. Well she liked it for other reasons probably. Either way I went to see what others had thought and it seemed many didn't even see it. Also their was tons of hate on the movie in general which is sad. Also the mech solar powered flying ships were awesome.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see this movie in the theater, but did see it on cable. I've liked it from the first time I saw it and as I type, watching it again.

Not a bad movie at all and I would have loved to see what happened once he went back at the end. Hopefully they will make JC2.

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