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Posts Tagged ‘John Carter Of Mars – movie review’

This week I re-watched “good night, and good luck.” (GNGL), and “John Carter“, (JCoM) both on DVD.
During the 1960’s-70’s, when I was coming of age, the most trusted man in America was Walter Cronkite who presented the evening new for CBS.  But before Cronkite, there was another journalism legend at CBS – his name was Edward R. Murrow.   GNGL is a movie about the abuse of power by a government figure (Senator Joseph McCarthy) and the struggle to contain / curtail that abuse by CBS TV journalist Edward R. Murrow.  While Murrow did not “personally” bring down McCarthy, Murrow’s programs marked the start of McCarthy’s fall from grace.  GNGL is the story of the broadcasts which ultimately led to the vote of censure by the U.S. Senate against McCarthy.
The movie is shot in black and white to highlight the “feel” of 1953 America – in the days before color television (yes, kids, there was a time when TV was in black and white ONLY) – like watching an Ansel Adams nature portrait come to life.   It worked for me, even though I generally don’t care for new films (that is, non-classics) which don’t seem to use the drama provided by black and white as well as it appears in GNGL.  The writing and performances are crisp and David Strathairn captures Murrow perfectly (or as near as I can imagine it to be).
I did not see this film at the theater and this was my second time viewing the DVD.  I’m not sure why, but I don’t have my first viewing on this blog.  The movie is from 2005, so it’s possible I saw the DVD before I started this blog (in ’09).   In any case, this is a highly recommended!!
As an aside, as a young child, I grew up listening to a box set of 78 LP’s titled: “I Can Hear It Now“.  I still have vivid recollections of sitting in an old red armchair and listening to history over and over again: “Fear Itself”, “Day of Infamy”, “Greatest Hour”, the destruction of the Hindenburg, etc.  Some of the greatest moments of 20th century radio and the thread which linked them in my mind was the voice of Edward R. Murrow.
The second movie I watched was “John Carter“, which was originally supposed to be called “John Carter of Mars” or “John Carter and the Princess of Mars“.  I did see this movie at the theater and I’ve watched it on DVD when I first bought it, but for some reason, I didn’t review it – probably, because I watched it mid-week and didn’t get back to a review on the weekend (procrastinating me).
For those not familiar with the story, Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a series of eleven short novels about a Civil War officer who is transported to Mars and who then has a series of adventures leading up to his becoming a War Lord of Mars.  The books were written / published over a number of decades.  I first encountered the books while I was in the Army.  My roommate knew of my interest in adventure novels (mostly SciFi) and told me about the series, which was his favorite while he was growing up.  He seemed quite surprised I had never heard of the series.  Anyway, I bought the series and carried them around for the better part of 35 years before finally getting around to reading them.  I was motivated to read them by the up-coming release of the movie.
This is one of those movies people say can never be shot because of the nature of the special effects required to convey the story.  Well, I’m happy to say technology has caught up with imagination in this age of the super-hero movie, so this movie could finally be made.  You can read my initial review here.  On re-watching the DVD, my opinion remains – it’s a VERY entertaining little movie.  Is it a great movie?  No…  Has a lot of the stuff (FX) been done before?  Yes.  Does it matter?  Nope, not to me anyway.  Summer escapism / action flick…  If the movie gets you to go back and read the books or the Tarzan series (also written by Burroughs), then the movie has served its purpose in history.
The shame is the movie was so badly marketed, it lost Disney a ton of money and there will probably not be any sequels developed.  That’s a shame because there are a lot worse movies out there that have a ton of abysmal sequels.  Strong recommendation (borderline high recommendation) – I enjoy it more each time I view it.
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Friday night, I took my daughter Sarah to see “John Carter Of Mars“.  This is the new movie from the eleven volume JCofM series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The movie is based on book one: “The Princess Of Mars“.  It follows the book fairly well – as well as can be expected.  The movie is a Romance /Sci-Fi / Fantasy / action genre and it does well at all of those levels.  Is it “great” cinema?  How many action / fantasy / romance movies are?  Is it entertaining?  Definitely!!!
Do you have to read the book to “get” the movie?  No, but you’ll probably enjoy it (the movie) more if you see it first, read the book and then see it again (DVD).  I’ve read the book twice and the entire series once (just finished in anticipation of the movie).  Does it do justice to Burroughs’ JCofM concept?  Yes, I think it does.  How’s the acting and “pace/direction” of the movie?  Hello??!!??  Action movie…!!!  The Princess (Lynn Collins) is suitably gorgeous.  JC (Taylor Kitsch) is remarkably Timothy Oliphant-ian (is that a word?).  They both start out stilted, but warm to their roles.  The two “stars” of the movie are the “dog” (a calot) named Woola and the four-armed green Thark – Tars Tarkas.  They both add surprising moments of humor – the book is NOT very funny.
All in all, I found it to be a surprising entertaining / fun action movie and well worth the price of admission.  I WILL be buying it when it comes out on DVD.
Other news:
Today, Hil and I took a trip up to Sacramento to visit our daughter Rebecca and help her start to move to her new place.  She’s moving from her studio close to the Capitol Bldg, to a one-bedroom a little farther away and on the other side of the Capitol Bldg.  It’s an old, Victorian style and it’s really nice.  We both think she’s really going to enjoy her next couple of years there.
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