It's been no secret around these parts that I've been excited for the release of John Carter (of Mars). I've been posting every trailer, chiding people to read the books, previewing Marvel's comics. I've been a fan of this franchise for a while and it's been evident in all of my coverage.
Where some people saw doubt, I saw the team behind the film and expected that they would give me something better than the average Hollywood blockbuster fare.
My trust in them was not misplaced.
Andrew Stanton, Michael Chabon, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Giacchino, Ryan Church, Willem Dafoe, Bryan Cranston, Samantha Morton. It's names like these that made this film one of my most anticipated films of 2012.
And it came off beautifully.
There's one thing you have to do for this movie, and that is this: forget that you've seen every other cliched, formulaic blockbuster of the last thirty years. The source material is the thing that inspired all of the tropes we've seen in cinema since the old Flash Gordon serials and somehow John Carter's adventures have remained sacred and off the big screen.
Watch this and understand that it's true to the source material. You'll have fun.
But on a subconscious level, you'll be entertained by a level of filmmaking much more even handed, capable, and mature than you're used to. The story is told elegantly, the wraparound sequences serve a purpose, the characterizations are deep and complex. The princess, Dejah Thoris, isn't just a damsel in distress, she's vulnerable but can take care of herself. The hero, John Carter is that devil-may-care rogue we all love in films, but he has a complexity to him that makes him truly human, which is an important distinction when you're in a land full of martians. There's so much more going on in this story beneath the surface and behind all of the characters, it's just incredible.
But it's still a Saturday afternoon serial, perfect for a matinee.
The action and adventure in this film is top notch. Just like the books, it's breathless and fun. I had a hard time keeping the dopey grin off of my face. Not only did the characters and situations cause that reaction, but so did the level of care that went into the craft of the filmmaking.
The editing and visual storytelling was much, much better than your average Hollywood fare. Plot points and character motivations aren't spelled out for the dolts in the audience, it's doled out to you like an excellent three course meal. You have to work for the understanding and context provided in the film and are rewarded with one of the most fun adventures that's been on the big screen. This is easily one of the best films to come out this year so far, and I wouldn't hesitate to say that it will probably outshine most of the summer movies this season.
Ignore the marketing they've done for this film and just trust me. I can't impress upon you enough how entertained I was by this movie. You don't need to know anything going in. All you need to do is just go.
You'll like it.
Trust me. I left this movie with a big grin on my face, fulfilled. Satisfied. People always seem to complain about today's movies not being as good as movies used to be. I assure you, this movie will not have that problem. If you're even half a fan of good adventure movies, this is how you should be spending your weekend.