12 March 2012

#SaveJohnCarter

(author's note:  Welcome to my 200th post.  I thought about making a special standalone 200 post, or posting my review of Adele's 21 which I'm still not happy with after a month, but instead I'm going with the below, something that has become more important to me as the day has progressed.  I hope you enjoy and are moved to action.)

     We are all aware of the Hollywood aversion to trying new things.  They're like Mikey when it comes to a script treatment that isn't a remake or followed by a Roman Numeral (note: write an original movie, but put a  Roman Numeral at the end of the title - I'll make millions!). And so we have John Carter.  John Carter, a contemporary vision of Edgar Rice Burroughs' (ERB) Barsoom novels, specifically A Princess of Mars (note I said novels.  There is more than one.  Hollywood could have their new franchise yet) cost just under $300 million to make, and only made $100 million world wide in its first weekend.  The word "flop" was laser-welded to this picture as soon as Saturday's receipts were counted, it would seem.

     I want John Carter to be a good movie. What I'm reading and hearing so far leads me to believe that it's either just an okay movie, or that it's a decent movie besotted by bad marketing, a director's vision out of control, in the finest tradition of Hollywood auteurs. Vulture explains the marketing issue well, and my two primary non-Internet sources of news (NPR/APM and The Express) have me concerned for this film, and for the future of risk-taking and innovation in Hollywood.

     I haven't seen the movie yet, but whenever the commercials air and the strains of Kashmir start up (I know, I know, the last time we had Kashmir in a movie we had Puffy -- as he was known then -- rapping over it, but it works this time) I turn to the Mrs. and tell her that we're going to see it, and she agrees with me.  I love that woman.  I understand that the material in the novels has been stolen and appropriated, borrowed and lifted wholesale from ERB's pages, but that's the point: his novels came first.  I want to see the original stories, I want to watch the proto-saga, see the origin story of origin stories, Space Opera itself being born on the big screen, 100 years after the original words were set down on paper.  I want to save John Carter.

     I want to save John Carter because if this movie doesn't end up turning a tidy profit then we'll be stuck with Iron Man XXXVII, where Tony Stark figures out how to put a distillery in his suit, 2 more reboots of Spider-Man with skinnier guys with poofier hair until Peter Parker looks more at home standing still in The Lorax than he does slinging webs, or God help us a third National Treasure movie.  My point is that Hollywood will want to take risks on original content even less than they already do, and we're already on our third Superman, folks.  Someone could be out there writing the next Star Wars, and the studios will pass on it because John Carter was an ok flick that had confusing commercials and ultimately broke even.  To do my part to prevent a future where our kids don't know the joy of undiscovered countries unbeknownst to their parents, I'm going to get to a theater to see John Carter as soon as I can.  Mind you, if it sucks my 202nd blog essay/post will be a retraction of "Save John Carter". But if it's awesome, or even just good, post 202 will be a link back to this one, reminding everyone to go see this movie.  For the children.

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