Thursday, 29 November 2012

John Carter (of mars)

So, off topic for this blog really, but having finally seen the film I can muse about it.

I feel like the movie was kinda 'eh' but certainly fun and deserves better than to be carted around as an enormous flop... of course, I liked Waterworld, so I may have a taste for enormous flops.

The graphics were awesome (and it was probably even more fun to see on a big screen) and some of the characters were pretty cool. However:

Many characters names I never figured out even by the end. Is this bad? Dunno. All the weird names are easier to get the hang of in text... so when I was looking actors up on imdb later for many characters I had no clue who was who. Not really important though, I guess.

I was not at all sold on the romance. It just didn't click for me. They seemed more like friends, the chemistry wasn't there. The tragic backstory did not feel well-resolved, and the Big Moment which was supposed to show his change of heart just confused me - the parallel was not as clear as they seemed to think it was!

Dejah, while overall an okay character, was not well-served by the dialog. Combined with the massive power of the enemies (more on this later), her inability to articulate why marriage was such a terrible idea made her seem like a whiny brat. "I would do anything to save my people! Except kiss that man!" Sure, being forced into marriage sucks, but if it's being done as a political alliance you can turn this to potential advantage in the resulting union... or if the guy's enough of a bastard and you have planning time you can set him up for assassination. It really all depends on circumstances. Wearing a wedding dress does not have to mean your utter submission forever... unless it does in their culture, or the wedding is going to involve some sort of mind control, or you have Virgin Powers that will be irrevocably lost, or you strongly suspect your 'husband' will immediately kill you once he can claim your inheritance, or so on. All of these things would make a big difference! But she wasn't really able to voice much objection other than "I have a vague feeling that if I marry him the planet will be doomed!" which made her seem more like a bratty teenager than a brave rebel.

The bad guys. What the hell? First off, their power levels were WAY too high and WAY too inconsistent. They're everywhere, they see everything, they can evaporate thousands with a single wave of their hands... except when the climax happens and then suddenly they can only kill people really slowly or make blue glowing swords? I think I've complained elsewhere how inconsistent power levels destroy my ability to plan or predict and ruin my enjoyment of stories. I can't appreciate a clever plan if it's not a clever plan because it only works because the villains decide to not bother using their powers for no reason.

Also... the bad guys' plans make no sense at all, they just seem to be doing things for the lulz. "Have some power! Blow some shit up! But don't blow her up, you have to marry her first and then kill her. Why? Um... Because we said so." Why they don't simply murder everyone with their waves of blue power makes no sense. Why they don't simply kill John at the end makes no sense. Why they do almost anything makes no sense. They would have been far more interesting if they were much weaker and forced to do everything through subterfuge and subtle powers. If you revel in destruction but are far too weak to create destruction yourselves, then screwing around with warring cultures makes sense.

1 comment:

miruki said...

Hmm, it's been quite a while since I saw the film last, but I remember how much I enjoyed it. It definitely has it's flaws, especially in story and character development, but then again.. I've read a bit about the original novels and there's 11 of it, so I guess a lot of the stuff that isn't explained in the movie, might be explained in one of these 11 books. Dejah doesn't really have much of a role in the books other than being very beautiful and getting constantly into situations where John Carter has to save here in ridiculous ways. So to me it feels like Disney did quite a good job with her in the end.. ;>

I just enjoyed the movie for what it was and didn't question it too much, I'll instead just read the books some day. :>