Friday, March 23, 2012

Prometheus, plus a John Carter Rant: maybe they should have called it "A Princess of Mars?" Or spent less money?

First, the good: Prometheus. Looks clearly like it will be set in the same universe as Alien (nothing we didn't already suspect from leaks) but even more so than might have been otherwise expected. It kind of has some Mass Effect style influences as well, I noticed. I am really eager to see this.

Now for the rant!

Well it looks like John Carter flopped, and having seen and really liked that movie I am disappointed, as it means that the likelihood of more films like this are dramatically reduced. Same thing of course for last year's Conan the Barbarian, which while admittedly a problematic film in some regards was hardly so bad (in my obviously eccentric and non-mainstream opinion) as to warrant all the knocks it took. Oh much for the revival of the classic pulps in modern film.

As a guy who spent most of his childhood in the late seventies and early to mid eighties, it cracks me up to see these two films get negative reviews or even to do so poorly. I remember when films that look 1/100th as good as these, with a fraction of the acting talent or story would somehow rocket to success. I mean, Beast Master, fer cryin' out loud! (I liked Beast Master, for the record). Galaxy of Terror. Seriously.

I guess what a lot of 70's and 80's films had going for them was actual dearth of cash and FX, though. When you're making the FX with rubber and animal guts and glue, and your story is going to be primarily carried by the weight of the actors then....who am I kidding??? John Carter had better storytelling than 80% of the drek I was forced to watch in the 80's. Oh well.

Maybe it's the actors. The two guys they got for John Carter and Conan both have a certain look that might not be all its cracked up to be anymore. Maybe they should have been clean-cut space marine/football jock looking dudes. They could have pulled that off with John Carter, I bet (not so much with Conan, which suffered primarily for comparisons to the original Arnold film). And maybe they should have done these movies on half the budget, or maybe focused more on traditional special effects as much as possible, realizing that their real target were older audiences, and that apparently a lot of us are grumpy about CGI effects these days.

Eh, who knows. I'll admit, I'm still amazed Disney spent as much as it did on John Carter, an untested property that had minimal recognition outside of a core slice of SF fandom and which was then not even properly titled in a recognizable way to many people.

But hey, Prometheus is up next! I saw the trailer. If that movie doesn't do well I'll just have to conclude that movie going audiences are a bunch of rubes who don't spend cash on anything that isn't made by Michael Bay or doesn't involve street racing or dirty dancing.


  1. I think I stayed away from this for the same reasons I stayed away from Beastmaster... it looked dumb. I don't like dumb movies.

  2. I wouldn't call it dumb....more like simple and innocent. Star Wars simple and innocent(the 1977 Star Wars, not the rest). John Carter's a movie I'd love to take my son to see when he's old enough to get into it (6 or 7, about the same age I first saw and was hooked on Star Wars). Also a good date movie if you're wife/SO is a geek girl, my wife asolutely loved the movie.

  3. It also helped immensely that the martian princess was a very strong female character. Collectively this was a real "feelgood" movie, but I don't think for whatever reason Disney realized that they should market it that way. Probably because the genuinely interested core audience is old SF fans like me....and the movie itself is something a husband could take his wife and kids to see for relaxing entertainment....but it really doesn't look like that from all the trailers.

  4. 'Simple and innocent' is fine... I mean 'it looked dumb' based on the previews... like I was led to expect there would be things in it that would be annoyingly stupid.
    But then I haven't seen it yet, so when I eventually do I'll be happy to be proved wrong.

  5. That's true....I hadn't planned on seeing it at all based on the previews, but my wife ambushed me with a matinee (and a babysitter) so we went and saw it; it was a pleasant surprise to see how much better it actually was.