This weekend presents you with the opportunity to do many things. If you’re in the Central Texas area, you’re probably hitting up SXSW 2012 alongside the intrepid staff at Film School Rejects and many other fine publications. But if you’re note falling down drunk on the streets of Austin, trying to punch-kick everyone following a screening of The Raid, you may want to escape to another wild wonderland: Mars. Beginning today, Disney is releasing John Carter into theaters. Based on the century-old book “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs, Carter follows a Civil War veteran who is transported magically to Earth’s red neighbor, where unknowable danger, a classic hero journey and the love of a gorgeous, tough princess await him. Also, he encounters 9-foot tall, four-armed green aliens who sound like Willem Dafoe, vengeful war mongers played by the likes of Dominic West and a CGI-enhanced landscape created by a team led by Pixar alum Andrew Stanton.
All-in-all, it’s quite a ride. And to give you an idea of why you should just ignore the poor early buzz and simply enjoy the ride, we’ve compile a list of 7 Very Good Reasons to See John Carter This Weekend. Join us on this magical journey…
7. John Carter is “Full of Action”
Sure, there’s no need for me to bring this up again. But I will, because self-effacing commentary is essential in this world. Too many critics take themselves too seriously. Those who watched the Oscars broadcast may have seen a commercial for John Carter in which yours truly was quoted as saying it was “full of action.” And as ridiculous as my Captain Obvious quote may be, it’s true. John Carter is the first wide-scale action film of the year. And like any operatic sci-fi picture, it gets its fill of battles, both intimate and massive. From Taylor Kitsch bouncing from airship to airship trying to save his lady to an army of 9-foot tall green Masai warriors storming a massive city, it has action. A full allotment of action.
6. Andrew Stanton Has Earned a Little Faith
Few directors working today have earned as much good will as Mr. Stanton. He’s the guy who gently removed our hearts with Finding Nemo and Wall-E, gently wrapped them in a warming electric blanket, then gently placed them back inside our chests, bringing unending joy to the world and if all goes well, eventually providing the inspiration necessary to end the problems of our modern world. So the guy has earned a little wiggle room, especially as he embarks on a live-action project for the first time. As Film.com’s Laremy Legal explains, “Director Andrew Stanton helped to write this lil’ epic, and let’s pause for a moment to be really proud of him. He also wrote and directed Wall-E and Finding Nemo, those alone earn him a lifetime of free drinks in my beachfront cabana bar, no further achievements necessary.” I will also see any movie Andrew Stanton directs until the weight of disappointment overcomes the weight of the happiness brought to me by Wall-E (like that will ever happen…)
5. Dejah Thoris is a Strong, Quality Female Character
Remember that old saying: Hollywood doesn’t have enough strong leading lady roles? Well, here’s the one worth seeing. As Devin Faraci of Badass Digest explains, “Lynn Collins is magnificent as Martian princess Dejah Thoris. Rarely has a female character like this been seen in a boy-centric blockbuster; Dejah is a scientist as well as a princess, and a fierce warrior as well as a totally sexy bombshell. A whole generation will have their puberties kick started by Lynn Collins in this film.” Lets move on from the weak-willed characters presented in stories like Twilight and give young girls a magnificently realized, tough, beautiful character to love. Young boys will get something, too. But that’s different.
4. A Michael Giacchino Score
The man behind scores for the likes of Star Trek, Lost, Up and Ratatouille, among others, simply does not disappoint. Adding to the stunning visuals brought to life by Andrew Stanton’s team is a score that rises and falls perfectly with action, adds emotion and when necessary, stays out of the way. It’s currently powering the writing of this article, leading us all to glory.
3. John Carter Could Be Star Wars for Today’s Kids
“In the vein of A New Hope, John Carter‘s flaws don’t tarnish the smart playfulness Stanton and the film perfect. This is what I wanted – and I’m sure plenty of you will agree come Friday – from the Star Wars prequels: high-flying adventure, not talk of trade federations, and all that mumbo jumbo.” There’s truth to the youthful jubilance of Jack Giroux, FSR’s youngest contributor, whose generation wasn’t raised on the “original trilogy” and the great sci-fi films of the early 80s. These kids, and those who have come along since, need a great adventure that will dazzle them, create a deep-seated yearning in them to know more (i.e. read the books), and sell them toys and lunch boxes. John Carter can be that movie. It’s that much fun. And Woola the Martian dog is a toy that the 12-year old inside me would definitely buy.
2. It’s Based on 100 Year Old Book, Not a Board Game
It’s worth noting again that for as much as we take issue with remakes, sequels, rehashes and resplices or popular brands with which we are already familiar, originality should matter. IFC’s Matt Singer recently questioned whether or not original movies should get more leeway with critics. And even though the answer to that question is a no, films that present original ideas or bring to light previously untainted source material should be given special notice by moviegoers. Because if you’re not part of the solution to the remake epidemic, you’re part of the problem.
1. John Carter is Visually Spectacular
As our own Robert Levin explained in his review, “you spend much of John Carter with your mouth agape, awed at the spectacle and thankful for the fact that a filmmaker with vision has finally been given real money to tell one of these stories.” Director Andrew Stanton, a man who has built entire worlds (and beyond) with his work at Pixar, has delivered Mars and its action-heavy landscape in stunning detail. HitFix critic Drew McWeeney is right when he says the film “is imbued with a wild, thrilling pulp energy and a genuine sense of wonder.” The computer driven visuals are seamless, the scale is massive and even the 3D adds depth to the experience. It’s like peering through a window at another world, one of those essential reasons we go to the movies in the first place.
John Carter is in theaters March 9, 2012.