John Carter

John Carter ½

this movie occupies such a specific place in my mind and memory, and i'm currently deep in a weird post-covid brain fog so allow me to take you on a little journey. back when it first came out, my brother had read about it in empire magazine and was really excited to see it, convinced it was going to be amazing, and so we went to see it as a family for his 18th birthday. even back then, before i had matured and developed into the beacon of good taste that i am today i thought it was awful. deeply chaotic pacing, strange casting and dodgy performances, a lot of exposition which comes across as if it's prose that's never supposed to be read aloud and what feels like a 6,000 hour runtime, it's one of those movies where the glint of the potential of the source material can be seen if you really squint, but it just feels like they've thrown it all up on the screen without thinking of how to adapt the material to the medium (which is a common issue with big, sci-fi adaptaitons, see also david lynch's dune [which coincidentally this does actually seem to directly reference on at least one occasion]).

it still stands out in my mind now as one of the most disappointing cinema experiences ever. and like the loving big brother that i am i've held it against my brother for ten years, still bringing it up on a semi-regular basis (and in fact, writing this whole review dragging his good name through the mud because, spoiler alert, i don't really have anything interesting to say about the actual movie).

a while back i saw an article on vulture that claimed that this is a misunderstood throwback epic and we all dismissed it too quickly. i immediately dismissed the article as just another in a long line of recent think pieces where authors bait clicks by boldly proclaiming that the general consensus about something is wrong and we're all idiots, when in reality they're just claiming their personal enjoyment of a thing is an immutable indicator of objective quality (you're allowed to like bad movies!!!). but it did get me thinking, maybe there is something there, maybe i owe the 18-year old budding cinephile version of my brother another shot.

i'm afraid to report that it is, in fact, absolutely still the pits. would this really be a half star movie without all of this baggage attached? probably not, but it wouldn't be much higher and at this point it's impossible for me to separate the movie from the idea of the movie that's lived rent free in my head for ten years when . sorry mark, you'll have to live with the burden of this shame until at least the 20th anniversary retrospective.

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