There’s a lot of controversy swirling around the internet about the quality of the recently released film, JOHN CARTER.
Personally, I feel like I’m in a great place to help solve this dispute, because I haven’t seen the film.
I’m like that unemployed friend you run into at the bar when you’re in the middle of a complex and sensitive debate with a close friend. I’m going to plop myself down uninvited (probably sitting on the seat backwards in an annoyingly casual manner) and spew my easy solutions. Brace yourself for an unpleasant barrage that reeks of Leinenkugel’s HoneyWeiss, clove cigarettes, and well-intentioned ignorance.
JOHN CARTER is a movie about a guy named John Carter. He’s played by that guy who played Tim Riggins in FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. So this film is basically TIM RIGGINS IN SPACE WITHOUT HIS SHIRT ON. I’m pretty sure he also wears one of those skirts you see Romans wear in gladiator, chariot race, or Easter movies.
A lot of people are mad that they dropped “OF MARS” from the title of the film which leads me to believe most of this movie happens on MARS.
Here’s the thing about MARS: You gotta handle that shit carefully. People make so many associations with MARS. The candy bar, the God of War, not to mention the planet itself. You put MARS in the title and people would be like, “is this just going to be a movie about a War God eating candy bars that is narrated by Carl Sagan?”
No one wants that.
So I bet this movie is grounded in something we can all relate to–like working retail. I bet JOHN CARTER works at Trader Joe’s. There’s a lady cashier he likes but he doesn’t date her because he’s got a little brother to take care of after their parents died. I also heard he’s maybe from Civil War time. So maybe his parents died in the Civil War, but right before they sacrificed themselves to end injustice, they put TIM RIGGINS and his cute orphan brother in this passageway that looked like the underground railroad but was actually a time corridor. Tap that sweet Doctor Who demographic.
So after we spend about 20 minutes setting up all the human emotion stuff, something computer generated happens at Trader Joe’s. There’s probably like a close up of a big rack of Three Buck Chuck shaking, then it explodes and the bottles come flying at you (because I know the movie’s got a lot of 3D showings) and a monster probably comes out of a space portal.
Odds are the monster is a SPIDER FROM MARS. Like David Bowie’s band except they don’t play glam rock, they’re less bi-sexual, and they’re actual spiders. So, Spiders are killing people on MARS and it’s like the CIVIL WAR all over again. TIM RIGGINS’ orphan brother and almost girlfriend were probably killed by the exploding wine racks, so he’s like, “Screw it. I have to go to MARS to fight injustice.”
BIG FIGHT when he first gets to MARS. Really slows down the plot, but there are a lot of cool shots where a half-naked TIM RIGGINS is jumping through the air swinging sharp things. Then–BAM–jump cut to an extreme close up of his sensitive yet steely eyes.
We can tell he is resolved:
HE’S GOING TO MAKE SURE THIS MOVIE GOES ON FOR AT LEAST ANOTHER 90 MINUTES.
I’ve also heard that the book the movie is based on had PRINCESS in the title. So, either it’s like a funny thing where MARS culture is different and they name their new hero PRINCESS or he meets a new girl who is the actual mf’ing PRINCESS of MARS.
(You would think that MARS would have a president or an emperor or something because MARS is a planet in SPACE, and most movies that happen in SPACE are futuristic. But for some reason, the people on MARS are still rocking a monarch based government system. So it’s like someone stripped the plot and drama from GAME of THRONES and put it in space. Which is bold, but dangerous. Because you could end up with like an army of geeks pushing their glasses up and fighting about whether it’s “SCI FI” or “FANTASY.” Two genres they like, but sometimes when you put them together, geeks get really mad and say hurtful things to each other on the internet.)
Anyway, the PRINCESS is probably like, “it has been foretold only you, TIM RIGGINS of THE CIVIL WAR and TRADER JOE’S, can protect us from the SPIDERS of MARS and lead our savage race.” (I’m assuming there’s an insulting thing about their pre-industrial culture because people keep comparing this movie to AVATAR. And AVATAR was just DANCES WITH WOLVES in SPACE. So, on a political level, this movie should be called TIM RIGGINS DANCES WITH DAMAGING SOCIO-CULTURAL STEREOTYPES ON MARS.)
Now admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the actual character of this new MARTIAN PRINCESS love interest, but to be fair, I bet the screenwriters and director don’t either. I can tell you one important thing: she’s not played by Lindsay Lohan. Because everybody would be making a big deal out of that. I can also tell you she’s attractive, scantily clad, and odds are she’s written pretty poorly but does some cool fighting to try to cover up the blatant sexism.
Any-hoo, then we have at least 20 minutes of TIM RIGGINS getting used to MARS. This is a mixture of humor, weight training montages, and a scene where he is taught to use an exotic new weapon. Perhaps a whip with a knife and/or electricity on the tip. He’ll also fall in love with the PRINCESS and maybe find another young orphan boy to mentor. Also, the evil people will be plotting to basically cause a MARTIAN CIVIL WAR so we can build the stakes to the BIG FIGHT AT THE END.
But before the end, I understand we have like a dream team of HBO TV stars. We’ve got McNulty from THE WIRE. We’ve got Walter White from BREAKING BAD. We’ve probably got the SISTER FROM DEXTER. Hell, maybe she’s even the PRINCESS. That would blow my mind.
Now, if you have McNulty, Walter White, and Tim Riggins in a movie and they don’t do a drug deal, that’s just a waste of American culture. That’s an insult to high quality drama. Like you just walked up to the podium on OSCARS night and slapped the greek drama mask right in the face.
So, I’m going to say McNulty is a war-torn savage who wants to change the monarchy system, but can’t. And I’m going to say Walter White is the main villain. Maybe the PRINCESS’ dad who turned evil, and used the RED METH ROCKS FROM THE CRYSTAL CAVE to become THE SPIDER KING.
Anyway, there’s a bunch of plot convolutions, but then there’s a BIG FIGHT. Walter White gets his stupid hat whipped off his head by TIM RIGGINS and all the audience can think about is COACH ERIC TAYLOR BEAMING WITH PRIDE and mumbling, “Good job, son, good job.”
Here are some of the things that come flying at the screen in 3D during the fight: SPIDER PARTS, MARS ROCKS, ARMOR, BRAS, EXPLOSIONS, RED METH.
Walter White is killed. This happens on like a hill or a castle. So a bloodied but victorious TIM RIGGINS can be higher than everybody else just like Hitler in every single shot in Leni Riefenstahl’s THE TRIUMPH OF THE WILL.
The war torn savages, even bitter drunk McNulty, scream and applaud like they just saw a really great stand-up act. TIM RIGGINS makes eye contact with NOT LINDSAY LOHAN and allows himself one brief smirk. Camera zooms into his eye and exciting, modern music that doesn’t make you think of science fiction in any way blasts over the credits.
Then, there’s a post credits sequence where TIM RIGGINS is training his new orphan brother to use the lazer-knife whip, and we see something in the distance–what is it?
It’s TONY FUCKING SOPRANO RIDING A SPACE ELEPHANT.
This means war, this means sequel, this means the next movie will be called JOHN CARTER 2, but everybody will call it JOHN CARTER, ALSO just to be smart-asses.
Okay, so that’s probably what happens, but is the movie any good?
Well, beyond certain objective structural and technical elements, movies are SUBJECTIVE.
Personally, I enjoyed imagining parts of this film and other things I pulled out of my ass really pissed me off and made me glad I haven’t seen it yet.
Bottom line–if you like fantasy, if you like space, if you have a high threshold for stereotypes, and/or you just want to see a topless TIM RIGGINS wearing a Roman Skirt, then this is a great way to spend two hours of your life that you will never get back.
All in all, I give JOHN CARTER, ASS KICKER OF MARS two thumbs. Thumbs don’t always need to be up or down. Sometimes they can just be. Hanging out, chill and cool, like TIM RIGGINS.
Tim Riggins forever, man, Tim Riggins forever.
Thanks for reading or whatever.