"What? You and three other people?"
That's what a friend of mine said when I told him I went to see John Carter. And in fact, there were just about three people in the audience. And that's a shame. What a waste. All that crazy money -- $300 million to make and promote -- all those creative people who worked their tails off, and the movie is derided as a "mega flop" by just about everyone after only two weekends in the theaters. And why is it a flop? Mostly because, from the start all anyone ever talked about were the production delays, budget overruns, problems on the set and all other kinds of backroom, Hollywood hand-wringing issues that the movie-going public could care less about. Negativity breeds negativity.
Even though Disney's billboard had done an excellent job of wetting my curiosity about the film, when my husband said he wanted to see John Carter, my first reaction was why? I hadn't read any of the details, but somehow I just knew it was baaaad. It was in the air, something you pick up because it's hard to miss. You think you know something when you don't really know anything at all. My husband contended that the film had gotten mixed reviews, not bad reviews, and that made me reconsider. I never forgot how I had gone to see Sister Act based on a good review, and vowed to never again pay attention to these obviously deaf, dumb and blind critics who stay up nights thinking of scintillating titles for their very important opinions ("A Hilariously Divine Comedy!"). I'm still boiling mad at what a waste of time that movie was, and that dud opened back in 1992. Who says I hold grudges? And as if its existence wasn't insult enough, Sister Act 2 came out shortly thereafter! I almost fainted from shock when I heard.
The other thing that made me decide to accompany my husband was an article I read that lumped John Carter with a bunch of other recent flops, including Hugo. I loved Hugo. "That's it!" I said. "Let's go." And I'm glad I did. I don't love Disney, I don't care about Disney, I don't even know anyone who works at Disney, and I'm telling you, the movie was fun. Great creatures, good storyline, a hero you can root for, a bad guy you can hate, a princess who can kick ass. What else do you want? It's not a work of genius or anything, and it doesn't fall into the "underappreciated gem" category, but it doesn't deserve the thrashing it's gotten in the press and elsewhere. As a matter of fact, you could do worse things than to go lose yourself in this fantasy for a couple of hours.
You hear all the time about special interest group loyalists, who despise a film without ever having seen it. In this case, there are a legitimate number of film goers who dislike the film, but that's par for the course. The bigger problem is this special interest group -- a bunch of Hollywood insiders, whose only concern is the bottom line. And who cares about them? Maybe I just like bucking the system, or maybe I just don't like being told what to do. In Hollywood, the unfortunate El Capitan Theatre is duty bound to screen the film until April 19. Why don't you go check it out and make up your own mind?
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