2012 Disney. Directed by Andrew Stanton. Running time: 132 minutes. PG13. Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong
Mathew: Yeah. Totally.
Helm: I wish that I could either love or hate this movie, but I cannot.
Mathew: Right there with you, buddy.
Helm: You, at least, I can hate with intensity.
Mathew: Right back at ya, dillweed. But let's get on to the review.
Helm: Let me note that I love the Barsoom books by Edgar Rice Burroughs. They are ingenious and thrilling. READ THEM! READ THEM!
Helm: Mathew, though there are few areas in which I would acknowledge you as my superior, soaking in the filthy cesspool of modern culture is definitively one of them. Perhaps you can provide some insight?
Helm: Why can they not simply make a good book into a movie without feeling the need to monkey with the plot line? Why must they change things? Is it pride? Is it ego? Do they do it on a whim? Or is there an actual written law which states that they may not simply translate an excellent work of fiction from one form to another without pointlessly modifying it?
Mathew: It's a mystery, Helm. And look, I agree with you, generally speaking. But in this case, some of the monkeying did serve a purpose. Like the amulets. I think the amulets were a useful device for explaining how John goes back and forth between worlds. It was always a little mystical/iffy in the books.
Helm: I concede that point. But why did they have to paddle pointlessly up the river Isis for half an hour? Why did they need the Sola character at all? And why, oh why does there have to be a bad guy threatening the destruction of the entire planet?
Mathew: I think there may actually be a law that says screenwriters have to do that last one whenever they write science fiction.
Helm: In truth?!
Mathew: No. I'm yanking your... uh... chin strap. Actually, I think they just try to amplify the drama when they're making a movie. You know, to keep you on the edge of your seat.
Helm: The edge of my seat is wearing out, and so is that device. And so is my patience. They should have trusted in the drama of the original story!
Mathew: True that.
Helm: It is not that this movie was horrible. It was not. It's just that it never quite pulled itself together. Nor did I care about John Carter's pointless emotional struggle with the wife character the screenwriters manufactured in order to give him an emotional struggle. Fie on emotional struggles. I say, let him fight more monsters!
Mathew: Yup. Emotional struggle is all the rage these days. Got to have an internally conflicted character.
Helm: No I do not. Not if the character is as thunderously righteous an ass kicker as John Carter Warlord of Mars!
Two Flaming Swords!!
Three Flaming Swords!!
Mathew: It was still pretty cool to look at. And I liked all the people in it, especially Taylor Kitsch. And I like Andrew Stanton. He directed Finding Nemo!
Helm: I did not hate the film, but perhaps Mr. Stanton should have stuck with animated fishes.
Mathew: Harsh, dude. Harsh.