"John Carter" is every bit as good as "Avatar", for good and for ill. Indeed, it is better in some respects. It is definitely worth watching if you are in any way curious about it or have enjoyed any works of science fiction/fantasy/adventure created in the past one hundred years. For indeed, this film is based as reverently as possible the root of nearly all such fiction. And it had the good luck to be made by people who genuinely love the hell out of the source material.
Right. So let me try and talk about "John Carter" without screaming and swearing at Disney's almost impressively sh**ty marketing department.
("Cheep, cheep, cheep," go the crickets.)
Yeah, I really can't. Let me regale you with anecdotal evidence of how impressively sh**ty a job Disney did in promoting "John Carter":
My sister and our best friend are both big fans of "Friday Night Lights". Tim Riggins is their favorite character, if for no other reason than the fact that he is pretty hot. Got all that? Good, because NEITHER OF THEM WERE EVEN AWARE THAT THERE IS A MOVIE WHERE TAYLOR KITSCH GOES TO MARS AND KICKS EVERYONE'S ASS WHILE WEARING ALMOST NOTHING BUT A LOINCLOTH AND A SMILE FOR TWO HOURS!
Furthermore, our friend loves "Avatar". A lot. She isn't one of those "I was a Na'vi in another life; I cry at night because Earth is too boring; I'm going to move to Pandora Landora in Disney when it opens" types, but surely her curiosity might have been piqued if something along the lines of, oh, "From the classic stories that inspired one hundred years of epic sci-fi/fantasy" had been in the trailers. Maybe more emphasis on the really alien aliens and exotic landscapes. Maybe mention that the story involves an Earthling going to another planet and falling in love with an alien princess. You know, like the book's title does.
That's at least two butts that could have been in seats right there. And they are instead looking forward to "Battleship".
This one's for you, Disney marketing peoples.
(Okay, to be fair, so far they have been doing an awesome job promoting "Wreck-It Ralph". Though this may be the broken clock being right twice a day.)
So as far as "John Carter" as a movie, it is, as I said, every bit as good as "Avatar". The beginning drags like crazy, there are a fair number of corny moments, and the ending could most generously be described as abrupt. However, Barsoom looks fabulous with the production design taking inspiration from all the many and varied fantasy illustrators who ever interpreted Edgar Rice Burrough's imaginary worlds. The various animated characters are well-realized and -perhaps this is Andrew Stanton being true to his roots- are by far more interesting than any of the humans. Mad props to whomever decided that Woola shouldn't just be a dog with extra legs but should instead resemble something ugly-cute out of the Permian. The main antagonists are pretty interesting as they are God-tier beings who long ago decided to use their eternal, all-powerful lives to basically screw with mortals. This isn't spelled out much, though, hence the abrupt ending. All in all, this is a movie that did not deserve the fate it got, and hopefully it will gain a cult audience.
Sketch of the Day! Who wouldn't want to ride a Chocobo?