Monday, April 2, 2012
John Carter of Mars
It's no secret on this blog that I am a huge nerd. I used to be embarrassed by my love of Star Wars, Star Trek, and all things geektastic, but no more. As I've gotten older, I've learned to embrace it. I love a good story, and if that story happens to feature grown men with ponytails and light swords, then so be it.
Let me introduce my latest nerdy obsession: John Carter. It's about a tortured Civil War hero who's transported Mars, gets caught up in another civil war, and falls hard for a Martian princess. Based on the first of a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs (aka the guy who invented Tarzan), the film also features some pretty spectacular southern Utah scenery as a stand-in for the red planet. I've since learned that Burroughs spent time in Utah as a young man, and may have used it as inspiration when he was imagining Mars. And if the premise sounds cheesy, that's okay. It's supposed to. Another great thing about the film? It doesn't take itself too seriously.
I've been reading the book too. A PRINCESS OF MARS is even cheesier, with a John Carter character who has considerably less depth on the page than he does on the screen. But it's also great fun to read - keep in mind, it was first published 100 years ago - and I can't help but notice certain precursory elements to some more recent popular science fiction. Without Dejah Thoris, there would be no Princess Leia. Without John Carter, there would be no Avatar.
There's so many things I love about this movie: the steampunk-esque airships, the loyal frog-slash-dog monster Woola, John's bromance with the four-armed Martian Tars Tarkas, the abundance of cool tattoos, the idea that someone can find the place they belong a long way from where they started, and yes, the love story. So how come hardly anybody is going to see it? Poor reviews? Shoddy marketing? The massive hype surrounding a certain other movie also based on a book (which I loved, but not as much as John Carter)? Your guess is as good as mine. All I know is, I want sequels!