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TAG TEAM REVIEW: JOHN CARTER
#71

Joshua Miller, John Carter is...Awesome!  I would...Love a sequel to this.  It is a shame that it is Disney's...Marketing, that would bring the film...Down To Earth!

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#72

Just saw it, liked it a lot.  Kitsch was the surprise for me - from advance reviews many folks seemed to think he was the film's weak point, and while you can tell this is his first time playing the lead, I thought he did a terrific job.  His character had a sense of humour and irony and I'd rather have had him in the lead than some other vanilla actor who might've brought five or ten more million to the box office.  Collins was great.  Dafoe, Morton, Chruch - great as the Tharks.

It looks like this will be a one-off, and it's a damned shame, because I'm pretty sure Stanton & Co. could've done taken some notes an even better job with the next film.

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#73

Say, what was with the one mean Thark lady? Like... she was just kind of generally... mean. Did she have a name? Is she somehow related to the Thomas Haden Thark with one tusk? Does she exist for any other reason than to torment Sola? But most importantly of all: how do the Tharks make those snorting sounds without noises?

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#74


Quote:
Originally Posted by Joshua Miller View Post

Yeah, they're like The Watcher from the Marvel Universe. Only, you know, they don't watch.

In the Barsoom books the Therns are just evil priests who live at the end of that river. Stanton was clever in his mining ideas from Burroughs series. Though I question the wisdom in changing the characters this way -- as it seems we all do. I know it has become common wisdom in franchise building lately to set up a larger concern for future movies, but I would have preferred that this film ended a bit more cleanly. Cause the logical extension of the Thern story is for them to come meddle on Earth. And the idea of a JOHN CARTER OF MARS: ON EARTH movie just seems beyond awful.



They should have definitely did something else with the Therns -- I get what they were doing from a plot perspective, but it still was too vague and underwritten.  What do they do with the planets after manipulating them, exactly?  They just seem to be a few priests who are dicking around.  To be completely frank, they're boring, and Mark Strong's efforts do very little to change that.  As they're written, their purpose is just too thin, enough that what they do seems self-explanatory and straightforward but then is subject to plot holes and just plain dullness.  Their execution is the one area where I think the film fails completely, and poor Mark Strong is left with another confusingly written villain after Green Lantern.

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#75

Just saw it and the girl and I both really liked it.  It realy reminded me of seeing Star Wars, or Raiders for the first time.  Also reminded me of Flash Gordon in that serialised adventure style.  I'd be gutted if this did bomb because I would quite happily see more movies in this franchise.  It's also made me want to get the books out of the Library, so in that case it certainly did it's job.

Despite the fact that everything should have seemed cliched (because of it effectively being the source for so much) it actually felt fresher and more alive, to me, than Avatar or the Prequels.

The 6 year old girl's opinion:

Loved it.  "That was as good as Star Wars!"

Thought Woola was awesome and funny and now wants a monster dog to chase around after her.

Thought the princess was "sooo cool  ... because she's clever and beautiful and she can fight really well".

She actually shed a tear during the wedding (the second one).

Was on the edge of her seat for the battle scenes, and cheered when the Tharks crashed the wedding.

Liked it when "the mean green lady got ripped in half by the gorillas".

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#76


Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteboy Jones View Post

Say, what was with the one mean Thark lady? Like... she was just kind of generally... mean. Did she have a name? Is she somehow related to the Thomas Haden Thark with one tusk? Does she exist for any other reason than to torment Sola? But most importantly of all: how do the Tharks make those snorting sounds without noises?


I got the vibe that she was the Thark's Alpha female.  She likely knew that Sula was Kar Tarkas' (?name?) by the previous ALpha female, so demeaned and punished her in that "wicked step-mother" way.

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#77

I saw John Carter this evening and loved it. I thought Kitsch was pretty good as Carter, but I will agree that the Tharks, Woola, and Dejah Thoris(OH MY!) stole the show. I hope a sequel will be made.

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#78


Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Bain View Post


Thought Woola was awesome and funny and now wants a monster dog to chase around after her.



This alone was a terrific surprise and I have no idea how Disney didn't try to capitalize on Woola to draw the younger audience.

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#79

I quite liked this, and am pretty irritated that it isn't getting better reviews (I guess the box office is a lost cause already). It's got a lot of problems at the script level, like all you guys have said -- an interminably boring middle section is the main problem for me -- the river journey and the cave scene were painful -- and the bizarre opening with the totally pointless extended Bryan Cranston cameo is also pretty head-scratching. Oh, and the climax is very, very weak. My main thought was "why does this have to be at night when I can't see a fucking thing."

It's also goddamn confusing at times, which is amazing for how simple the plot was superficially. For example, why did Dominic West try to murder Dejah Thoris in front of all her people? Wasn't the whole point of the wedding to give the impression their kingdoms were reconciled, thus avoiding the possibility of a subsequent revolution? I get that Carter's arrival sort of spurred them into action, but I was still pretty fuzzy on that.

I'm also surprised Kitsch isn't a bigger problem, since the guy is dense and unlikeable in interviews and I generally like my actors to have some smarts. He's kind of a black hole of personality, like Worthington, but I think a hard fantasy movie like this can actually benefit from a sorta bland lead actor. It lets the audience just insert themselves into that role (theoretically, at least), and the vicarious thrill that gives the audience might be a large part of why a film like this works. The very affected gruffness in his voice was pretty aggravating at times, though, I will say that.

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#80


Quote:
Originally Posted by Whiteboy Jones View Post

Say, what was with the one mean Thark lady? Like... she was just kind of generally... mean. Did she have a name? Is she somehow related to the Thomas Haden Thark with one tusk? Does she exist for any other reason than to torment Sola? But most importantly of all: how do the Tharks make those snorting sounds without noises?


She is Sarkoja.  She has a larger role in the books, but she's essentially a bitch.  She really manifests her bitchiness when it comes to Sola, the Thark that goes along with John and Dejah.

In the books: Tharks mate and then lay eggs.  The eggs are put into incubation chambers for a period of time (I don't remember how long).  When the hatchlings are brought back, they are taken in by the clan en masse.  The concept of having a mother and a father is a foreign concept to Tharks, as they are all raised communally.  The female thark that Tars Tarkus mated with discovered which hatchling was hers and tried to claim it.  Sarkoja found out and had her captured and tortured.  The mother never gave up the name of the father thark and died.  Sarkoja took out her wrath on Sola and made her life hell.

There's more to it than that but it's not important.  Sarkoja's a bitch, plain and simple.

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#81

Saw the movie tonight.  Very disappointed in how half-baked it seemed.  There's no flow to the story at all...exposition and plot points are just thrown at the wall willy nilly in the hopes that they stick in some kind of coherent fashion.  The entire structure feels completely off.  It looks great visually, though...I'll grant it that.

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#82

Just saw Mr. Beaks loved this flick.  Comforting.

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#83

I also really hate how Mark Strong went from interesting, under-appreciated character actor to go-to blockbuster bad guy in a matter of two or three years. I find him horribly boring now, and it sucks. I still want to like him.

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#84

I liked it, but there are a lot of needless changes from the book that end up hurting it overall. The Therns shouldn't have been in at all (they could have been alluded to slightly, but making them an active villainous presence was wrong), especially with the changes made to who they are and what they do, as 'The Gods of Mars' (if they manage to make it) will make absolutely no sense.  Zodanga being out and out evil is just weird, as they were no more evil than Helium in the book. They were at war with Helium, but everybody was at war with everybody in the book, and Helium was the most powerful nation on Barsoom, because they controlled the canals. And Tars knowing Sola was his daughter felt wrong, too.

I also wasn't keen on them dropping some of the more out there pulpy elements. Hollywood Sciencing up how Carter gets to Mars I was kind of okay with, but they make no allusion at all to him being immortal (or very near to it. The first lines of the first chapter of the book are: 'I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am a hundred, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I have never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did forty years and more ago...'). Just having that line in voice over when Edgar starts reading the journal would've been fine, and added a layer of irony to when Matai Shang says that the Therns are eternal and not concerned with mortality the way John Carter is.

I don't know why everybody is confused about the timeline of the movie, though. The journal says it all started 13 years ago in the Arizona territory, and he searched for ten years to find the medallion to go back to Mars. Three years Earth-time spent on Barsoom (Bryan Cranston was reduced to a skeleton, and even exposed as his body was, I don't think that happens in a few weeks), 10 years back on Earth searching and then faking his death. He never says he told tales of Mars to young Edgar, he just says he told him wild stories (it's implied that Edgar hadn't even seen him since John went to Arizona).

And Tharks are not a race, they are a tribe of the Green Men. The Warhoons are another tribe, and Tars Tarkas mentions a third tribe to the south (the Warhoons are from the north) in his 'Virginia fights for us!' speech.

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#85

Has Beaks written a review yet?  I can't find it.

So I ended up reading Harry's review, which was actually fine.  Heheheh

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#86

I really dislike the slowish cadence that Kitsch speaks with.  Like a really awkward John Wayne impression.  It reminds me of the only thing I didn't like about Constantine, Reeve's slow, halting delivery.  Weird choice.

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#87

Wow. Guess my inner child was dead 'cause I thought this was a mess. I could not tell why anyone was doing anything they were doing; why the bad guys needed to kill Deja (sp?) during the wedding, what that glowing shit was in the cave, what the Thaarks had to do with anything -- other than the broadstroke hero's journey crap, I basically had no idea what the fuck was going on. The performances were all good and I actually thought Kitsch was an engaging lead, but I was really, really disappointed by the way it all held together. I went in really hoping to like this (I did like the pulpy episodic qualities, I just didn't connect to the story or care) but ultimately I don't need to see another adventure in this world. And Woola was yet another awful slobbering CGI vagina blob. I just don't get what people are seeing in this. The best I can say for this is that it has a shot at being this era's FLASH GORDON. A unintentionally campy failure.

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#88

JMulder, Sebastian OB, The attempted killing of Dejah at the wedding was to reveal to the people that Sab Than Jeddak of Zodonga, would not only avenge the death of their Princess, whom he Loved, and he would make sure nothing of that nature happened...Again!  If anything the Thern was wrong.  Something just as easilly could have happened to Dejah...After the wedding.

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#89


Quote:
Originally Posted by duke fleed View Post

JMulder, Sebastian OB, The attempted killing of Dejah at the wedding was to reveal to the people that Sab Than Jeddak of Zodonga, would not only avenge the death of their Princess, whom he Loved, and he would make sure nothing of that nature happened...Again!  If anything the Thern was wrong.  Something just as easilly could have happened to Dejah...After the wedding.


I have no idea what this even means. Perfectly encapsulates the impenetrable bullshit that drives this film.

The more I think about it, the more I am convinced this is the modern equivalent of 1980's FLASH GORDON without the benefit of Queen.

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#90

Quote:
Originally Posted by duke fleed View Post

JMulder, Sebastian OB, The attempted killing of Dejah at the wedding was to reveal to the people that Sab Than Jeddak of Zodonga, would not only avenge the death of their Princess, whom he Loved, and he would make sure nothing of that nature happened...Again!  If anything the Thern was wrong.  Something just as easilly could have happened to Dejah...After the wedding.


He kills her to avenge her death and make sure it never happens again? Somehow I don't think you understood it any better than us, Fleed.

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#91

Why was the Helium side of the fight the right side? Why did mark Strong give MnNulty the ultimate weapon, and why didn't McNulty just use it to destroy Helium and kill the princess instead of going through the pomp and circumstance of a wedding and treaty? What did the Tharks have to do with any of this? What was that mystical river shit all about? What was I supposed to learn in the blue map room cave? It seemed like every instance where this movie could have taken a straight line, it took a meandering convoluted route for no good reason. As much as I didn't like AVATAR, at least I knew who the good guys were, who the bad guys were, what the conflict was and why it was. I can't believe the guy who wrote WALL-E had anything to do with this story.

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#92


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian OB View Post

Why was the Helium side of the fight the right side? Why did mark Strong give MnNulty the ultimate weapon, and why didn't McNulty just use it to destroy Helium and kill the princess instead of going through the pomp and circumstance of a wedding and treaty? What did the Tharks have to do with any of this? What was that mystical river shit all about? What was I supposed to learn in the blue map room cave?


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In all honesty, those questions are either explained in the book OR have nothing to do with what ERB wrote.  I suspect a lot of the answers were left on the cutting room floor.

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#93

Sebastian OB, For some reason, the Thern wanted the Princess, killed just as she was going to get married.  Sab Than wanted her dead much earlier.  I cannot fully understand...Why the Thern wanted her death at her wedding either.

JMulder, Well, I cannot properly...Explain, the plot.

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#94

Glad to see people coming down off this from the unnecessary passes it was getting on Page 1. I think people who want to give John Carter a pass have to really ask themselves if it's about plain old wanting to like a movie so much it just seems mean to dislike it even though that's exactly what it earns. I wanted to like John Carter so badly and it's just a mess. Someone said it's better than Prince of Persia. It's not better than Prince of Persia because it IS Prince of Persia.

I won't run through the list of things that jacked this movie up since others have already done so. One thing I will say, though, is that it's a bit embarrassing reading all these kudos and back-clappings for this movie for making Dejah a "positive female role model" coming from a bunch of men who also, it seems, can't help but comment on how hot she is. I mean, she is hot and there's nothing wrong with saying so or appreciating that, but when it comes to all this other  faux-progressive stuff... are you fucking kidding me? Lynn Collins tries to make something of the character, sure, and sometimes it even works but ultimately her value is the exact value being trumpeted here: she's there to provide sex appeal and eye candy we don't have to feel bad about because she is also a warrior and is smart. I'd like to hear more from women viewers about her before I declare the character to be the revelation some dudes seem to think she is. The character feels like it's coming from a pandering, dishonest place, the result of knowing that the arguably more honest male gaze stuff Burroughs unabashedly included in his books wouldn't fly for modern audiences. But the hook still has to be that she's a sex object, doesn't it?

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#95

Friend just linked me to this:

http://www.multiverse.org/fora/showthrea...amp;page=8

Pretty cool.

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#96


Quote:
Originally Posted by Sebastian OB View Post

Why was the Helium side of the fight the right side?

Because they are more peaceful (or would be if they weren't stuck in a civil war). The other city, Zodanga, are conquerors.

Why did mark Strong give MnNulty the ultimate weapon, and why didn't McNulty just use it to destroy Helium and kill the princess instead of going through the pomp and circumstance of a wedding and treaty?

This is probably the most poorly scripted part of the movie, but the Therns are sort of meddlers/architects in the history of civilizations. The superweapon gave Zodanga an advantage in the war, but I guess the Therns foresee that McNulty marrying and then killing Dejah will have the historical effect of solidifying his position as a new supreme dictator. That's underexplained in the film but sort of makes sense. The truce and marriage allow him and his people into Helium and in a position of power, and killing Dejah allows him to completely seize all that power.  I got the sense that it was also supposed to work on a symbolic level to the people, seeing their Princess capitulate and then die at the hands of the enemy.

What did the Tharks have to do with any of this?

Not all that much, unfortunately. They definitely could have been more integrated into the story. But they're the other prominent race on Mars and sort of do their own thing so it's significant that John Carter convinces them to become allies of Helium.

What was that mystical river shit all about?

The Thark temple reveals that the myths of the planet involve this river that ends in gates to another world or worlds, which is all very Styx and Underworld like in the myths but which Carter susses out as related to the Thern and their teleporting thing. So making that journey could allow him to get home, or at least give him more information on how to do so.

What was I supposed to learn in the blue map room cave?

That the Therns can travel between worlds, and how.


Yes, the script is a bit weak, at times convoluted and/or rushed, and probably errs a little too much on the side of catering to people who have read the books, but most of this stuff is there in the film if you just pay attention.

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#97


Quote:
Originally Posted by Xion View Post

Glad to see people coming down off this from the unnecessary passes it was getting on Page 1. I think people who want to give John Carter a pass have to really ask themselves if it's about plain old wanting to like a movie so much it just seems mean to dislike it even though that's exactly what it earns. I wanted to like John Carter so badly and it's just a mess. Someone said it's better than Prince of Persia. It's not better than Prince of Persia because it IS Prince of Persia.


Can't disagree with this sentiment more. Especially the idea that people who liked JOHN CARTER are giving it a "pass." As though our opinions can't be grounded in anything other than denial. I didn't walk into CARTER wanting to like it. No one is going to argue that CARTER has a sound story or that it doesn't have too many characters, but Stanton and company made a film that - for some of us - had enough good elements that the bad elements couldn't sink our overall reaction. That is what it "earned" for me. I had the same thing with THOR and CAPTAIN AMERICA last year. A film earns good will. It isn't math.

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#98


Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Bain View Post

Liked it when "the mean green lady got ripped in half by the gorillas".


Your gal is well on her way!

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#99


Quote:
Originally Posted by dudalb View Post

It's got a RT score of 58%.Not good.

It looks from the low tracking that this is going to be a major box office misfire for Disney. CHances for a franchise do not look very good,since it has to do 500 Million just to break even.

Some people in the Disney marketing department need to be fed to the Banths for the way they fucked up the marketing for this film.

And to make matters worse,it seems not to be tracking very well in overseas markets either.



Does dudalb have some kind of stake in JC's demise?  I can't remember the last time I saw him post, and suddenly in the last week it's been nothing but how JC is set to fail miserably the world over.

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dudalb is the Debbie Downer of the boards.

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I think a lot of the praise for Dejah comes from the fact that you wouldn't really expect that strong of a character (relatively) from an adaptation of Princess of Mars.  Xion did really make me consider this topic a bit harder.  I don't think I've said anything about Dejah being a great role model for women myself.  I just knew that I appreciated her character beyond her lovely appearance (which is considerable).  There is something about the way Collins played her that went so well with the general tone of the film that helped me enjoy myself despite the many flaws of the story.

Whatever was or wasn't on the page, Collins played her with a spirit that went beyond that of a damsel in distress.  But I think there was some good stuff on the page too.  Her eventually choosing to go along with the marriage instead of killing someone in cold blood... her giving John the opportunity to go back to Earth and leave her in a dark situation...

"Objectively" this probably isn't much better than Prince of Persia.  But the fact that this was done by someone with an obvious love for the property as opposed to a cynical Bruckheimer production with more of a journeyman at the helm (not trying to dig on journeymen however) admittedly changes my perception of the two films.  And obviously, the Hollywood Whitewashing controversy surrounding PoP did get to me.  I can't deny that had an impact on how I approached the film.

Speaking for myself, I definitely had more of a 'stake' in wishing John Carter to be a good movie (wanting someone from Pixar to succeed outside of Pixar)  and such wishes probably had some placebo effect.  Then there's Giacchino's score, which walks all over another generic score by Harry Gregson Williams.  I don't doubt at all that the lush themes in John Carter make me putty in its hands.

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It's definitely a flawed movie. It's too long, there are pacing issues, the Therns seem to be ALL WILL BE REVEALED...IN THE SEQUEL! characters, etc

But there were a bunch of  fun adventure moments, all of the main hero characters are likeable and the special effects are successful for the most part (Tars and Sola felt like real characters). I liked it.

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Holy shit, just saw this. Fuck. It was brilliant. I don't know what people's issues were with Kitsch because I thought he was great, as well as everyone else. Really fucking enjoyed this, and normally plot holes bother me, but this was just infectious and kept moving. I never once felt like it was dragging and I really liked the bookend stuff.

It was just full of those little idiosyncratic bits that make the Pixar films shine.

Best moment for me was the Thark's attack on the bad guys city, only to find it abandoned, and when they question the only guard on duty, he tells them they're at the evil wedding, which is then followed by Tars Takas smacking Carter up side his head. Amazing, the whole audience just burst out laughing, so unexpected and a perfect moment. I also really love that Carter was calling Dejah "Professor" for ages. Oh! and James Purefoy's camp performance as Kantos - I hope his character's gay, cos he was utterly brilliant.

Damn, I'm just so happy to have a flawed but totally fun blockbuster in the cinemas that looks like a fucking movie.

Oh, and the score - best knock off star wars ever.

Gush.

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Yay!

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SeanCE View Post

Damn, I'm just so happy to have a flawed but totally fun blockbuster in the cinemas that looks like a fucking movie.


Seconded. This certainly whetted the palate for the blockbuster season -- I mean I love prestige pictures and all, but goddamn if it isn't good to be on the brink of a summer film season again. It's certainly liberating considering the dregs we've been sinking in through January-February. I truly hate this part of the year for movies.

On second thought, maybe this was why I liked Carter more than it perhaps deserved...

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