Cultural phenomena can be so enticing, like shiny crystals in a store window. Or a beautiful, greased-up shirtless man in a loincloth.
They’re both appealing because they’re glistening and glinting in the light. They also appeal to our basest desire to look at things.
I had this feeling about Disney’s John Carter. I watched the trailer. I feed myself with coverage of the film, the blown out budget, the name change, the weak marketing campaign.
Despite all of it, I assumed it would transcend my expectations.
I was an idiot to think I’d get sucked into the space-world of Mars in John Carter.
This is Like a Sequel to Avatar
I told myself to just have a little fun. Let my mind go. Don’t think about how absurd-looking those aliens are.
Just forget about it all and watch something for the sheer fun of movie-watching.
There was very little fun about it. Friends sitting next to me as we watched the questionable action play out drew comparisons to another recent film with lots of expensive special effects and absurd alien-beings.
So much so one of them shouted out “this is like a sequel to Avatar.”
I’d successfully avoided Avatar in what I considered to be a tactful fashion. I pretty much ignored it, and if it was brought up as a movie-going option I’d say “that looks stupid.”
If someone were to ask me what Avatar is about I would probably answer that it’s about James Cameron’s self-love erection, and I know for certain I’d be at least 50% correct.
I defy you to tell me I’m wrong on this one.
Two Suckerings in One
I felt smug in my hatred and dismissal of Avatar and I told myself I wasn’t going to let James Cameron suck me in again.
I’d sat through the entirety of Titanic on a date with a guy I didn’t even really like (that’s two suckerings in one, really), but I told myself that I was a young girl then.
Now, as a grown-ass woman, I wasn’t going to take any painful cinematic chances.
I already had plenty of things to rant about. I didn’t need to notch my belt with a multi-year Avatar rage arc that would rival my never-ending Million Dollar Baby rage-arc.
In the end I couldn’t help myself. I acted as though I’d never said any of those sensible things.
I kept going back to the trailer and watching it over and over, the cute dog-turtle alien things buzzing around the screen being cuter than anything George Lucas ever created.
I watched my beloved Taylor Kitsch, a.k.a Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights (as he will now be referred to for the duration of this piece) smolder and slash across the screen.
I watched my beloved Dominic West a.k.a. Jimmy McNulty from The Wire (as he will now be referred to for the duration of this piece) sneer and aggrandize.
They would treat me right. These loveable bad boys would take this blockbuster about space junk and make me fall in love.
They did not.
I Did Not Experience Anything Near My Eyebrows
I read about famed writer Michael Chabon and how he was involved in working on the script. He wouldn’t steer me astray.
I imagined a high-brow literary adaptation of an Edgar Rice Burroughs’ adventure story.
I did not experience anything near my eyebrows.
Even with Riggins and McNulty I barely experienced anything below the belt either. In the first ten minutes I was so bored all I could do was yell at Riggins to at least remove his shirt.
Thankfully, it came to a point where he hardly wore anything for the duration of the movie. Small blessings.
For a movie meant for kids it was confusing. A complicated, intricate story and failed emotional metaphors are the hallmark of this kind of movie.
Nothing is more confusing than a fantasy-alien-adventure like John Carter. I don’t know how people keep up with this stuff.
I expected more from you, Tim Riggins. I believed, like Friday Night Lights’ beloved Coach Taylor, that there was something special in your scruffy way. That you could be more than the sum of your good looks and charm.
But just like a high school kid with poor grades and gorgeous hair and the most attractive angst in the world, you weren’t even given a chance to shine.
You’re still charming. And there were moments when I could see your inner-Riggins. I still love you.
But this was bad luck. No one wanted to let you be great.
Lessons From John Carter
There are always lessons to be learned and John Carter hammered home a few things. Michael Chabon won a Pulitzer but couldn't make John Carter awesome.
I have a lot of issues related to morally questionable male leads on television. The nonsense plots of blockbusters confuse the hell out of me.
Oh man. That feels like a whole new post.
But before I get into it I need to rest my weary eyes and brain. They’ve suffered a space trauma.