Welcome to The Mundane Adventures of a Fangirl

I consider myself a Fangirl. What does that mean, you ask? A "fanboy" in the most common understanding is a hardcore fan of 'genre' based entertainment in particular. In my case - science-fiction and comic book based movies and television. Because I'm a chick - it's fangirl, not fanboy. There you have it! I am a big movie fan, however, not necessarily a 'film' fan. And now - I have the forum to present my opinions to the public! These will mainly be movie reviews -that will always be my opinion - repeat OPINION. Just what I think, and in no way do I present my opinion as fact. I hope you enjoy and maybe it will help you decide what to see at the movie theater this weekend!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Movie Review: John Carter (PG-13 - 132 minutes)

Epic is a word that is often thrown around in regards to movies.  I have always assumed it to mean - at least in terms of movies - big; giant; overwhelming and mind-blowing; the old movies with huge sweeping location shots and giant fancy sets and that had to use thousands and thousands of extras because they couldn't CGI them yet.  The Ten Commandments and Gone with the Wind are the first two that come to mind.  They're also really really long - another key factor in an epic?  In the mid 1980s, there was a flurry of fantasy epics:  Willow, Legend, Ladyhawke, and Labyrinth (although thousands of Muppet extras may not count you in the epic category, so maybe Labyrinth doesn't count - but it is my favorite of those).
Fantasy epics are also very very easy to screw up - see any Uwe Boll movie.  Or better yet, don't.  I recommend them for only the most tolerant of movie goers like myself:  the ones who pay to see terrible movies because we enjoy that kind of thing.  If, like me, you enjoy that kind of thing, or if, like me, you have a love for SyFy's saturday night original movies, then by all means, Google Uwe Boll and watch some of his stuff.  You have been warned.
There is also the scifi fantasy epic - Avatar is the one that comes to mind.  I would place John Carter in this bracket.
You've been seeing trailers and previews for John Carter for the last year.  What you may not realize is that John Carter the character was originally created in 1911 by Edgar Rice Burroughs - before he created Tarzan.  He featured in many novels by Burroughs, and was then translated to various magazine serials, comics, and eventually graphic novels.  If you're curious, here's the Wikipedia link to answer all your John Carter questions:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Carter_(character). 
The new movie sticks very close to the original Burroughs storyline.  John Carter is a confederate soldier fed up with fighting who stumbles across a cave full of gold, and a passage to Mars.  On Mars, he finds himself at odds with the different gravity there, which, once he masters it, makes him seem stronger and able to travel the way the Hulk does (big, long bounces).  He runs into a tribe of primitive Martians who ask him to help them fight other tribes, then he runs into two warring factions of red-hued humanoids - who again ask him to fight.  He falls for a princess on the run from a forced marriage and finally finds a cause worth fighting for. 
Here's the thing - when you have low expectations of a movie - you can be pleasantly surprised.  When you have no expectations, or expect to be unhappy with a movie - your mind can be blown.  I loved this movie.  Surprised?  Because every review you've read has said it was terrible?  Here's the thing about movie critics - I find that I generally disagree with them and find them very snooty; they never seem to be willing to simply be entertained.  Guess what:  this movie is entertaining as hell.  Big, sweeping, tons of great effects, decent performances, and my favorite thing about good big budget pieces:  you can see every cent of the budget on the screen.  It's the perfect kick-off movie for the summer popcorn-flick blockbuster season.  Equal parts Utah desert and CGI make for beautiful martian landscapes.  The movie also manages a consistent tone - tough in a movie like this.  There's the funny fish-out-of-water beats, the fast actiony battle sequences, and the believable love story.  The cast is very good as well.
Taylor Kitsch of Friday Night Lights fame (I've been told repeatedly it's a good show) plays Carter in an acceptable stiff style.  It's been criticized as wooden, but I think it fits the character.  Kitsch is posed to have a big year between this and Battleship.  Maybe that would bring his Gambit from X-Men Orgins: Wolverine to the forefront of his own movie.  Come on, it would be awesome...set in Lousiana swampland in a war between the Assassins and Thieves Guilds.  Lynn Collins, who coincidentally played SilverFox in the Wolverine movie, does a really impressive job in this as the princess.  Collins is a martial artist (check out her abs in this flick) and wife to Stephen Strait who starred in the epically terrible 10,000BC.  She is also a Houston native who does an impressive british accent in this - perhaps because all the other actors playing Martians are UK folks.  Ciaran Hinds (most recently from Ghost Rider 2) plays her father, James Purefoy his second, Dominic West the forced husband-to-be.  Again, coincidentally - Hinds and Purefoy were both in the TV show Rome (rent it!).  Hinds was Julius Ceasar and Purefoy was Mark Antony.  Mark Strong plays the bad manipulative alien.  Thomas Hayden Church plays the tough-guy Martian who is looking to take over the tribe from Willem DaFoe's lead Martian.  Interestingly enough - DaFoe did his motion capture on stilts to bring him up to the 9 feet that his character would end up being.  How's that for method?
To make a long review short (too late!) I loved it.  I really did, and I was so surprised that I did.  Go see it - enjoy it - use it as an absolute escape - get the big popcorn.
9 out of 10.  
Gained points for the little dog pet alien, and for making me lose my cynicism just long enough to get really upset when it got threatened with harm.  Lost a point for using the Geonosis arena.  I swear - when they released the white ape, I just assumed it was going to be an Acklay. (big geek points for you if you understand that sentence).  Gained points for the amount of time Taylor spent shirtless.  Nothing wrong with that.  Someone make that Gambit movie.
Here's your bonus video - Gambit :)

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