If there's one thing sci-fi and fantasy films have taught us, it is that one is not to fight his/her destiny. Father Steve Grunow continues to give in to his as our resident "B" (or worse) movie guru. Today he tackles two, um, interesting selections on the Word on Fire blog.
I was approached by a parishioner after Mass this past Sunday who commented that they had discovered that I wrote film reviews for a website called Word on Fire. “Yes,” I replied. “It’s too bad,” the well meaning soul responded, “that the movies you seem to review aren’t very good and don’t seem to do all that well.” I responded that we all find our niche in life.
My penchant for reviews of bad movies with bad to mediocre box office payouts continues with “John Carter,” a $300 million box office failure that has shaken the foundations of Disney’s Magic Kingdom. Disney will foot the bill for this cinematic disaster, which, in my estimation, is not so much a bad movie, but one that just has failed to find or resonate with its audience.
The story of “John Carter” is based on fantasy stories written by Edgar Rice Burroughs that were first published in 1917—the first titled “The Princess of Mars.” The series gave rise to a version of science fiction/fantasy known as “planetary romance,” and is the precursor to a whole panoply of offerings ranging from “Dune” to “Star Wars” to “Avatar.” More about this later.
“John Carter” takes place in the 19th century and features the adventures of a battle weary Civil War veteran, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch of “Friday Night Lights” fame). He is being pursued by Apaches in the American Southwest, takes refuge in a cave, and finds himself in a scuffle with a space travelling being called a Thern. The Thern has a medallion that transports Carter to Mars (or, as the planet is known by the locals, “Barsoom”).
It is there on Mars that Carter discovers he can leap tall rock formations or advancing armies with a single bound, and can do so while dressed in what amounts to underpants, without anyone on Mars snickering. In fact, they are all mighty impressed, and look for ways to leverage Carter’s leaping and fighting skills to their advantage. The problem for Carter and his Martian hosts is that after the personal losses he suffered as a result of the Civil War, he really isn’t interested in a fight—what he wants is to find a way back home...