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Many many years ago, when I was young and cynical, I read the Pat Conroy novel The Lords of Discipline, which I understand is based on Conroy's own experiences at the Citadel back during the Vietnam War. Some time later, a movie was made from the book, and not having learned yet that a lot of book-to-movie transitions suck, I thought I'd go down and check out the movie. First, though, I took a look at the Washington Post, which was running a review of the movie, to see what their film critic thought about it.

They hated it. In one of the most obtuse pieces of criticism ever, the reviewer condemned the movie for its racism. Considering that one of the major plot threads of the movie is the arrival of the first black cadet at the Citadel*, this is about as wrong as you can possibly get. I kept checking the WaPo reviews and began to notice a pattern: whenever their critics thought a movie was fabulous and a must-see, it was a preachy piece of crap. Conversely, when their critics panned a movie, it was bound to be entertaining and a good use of my entertainment dollar.

And so it is with "John Carter", the Disney adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs classic A Princess Of Mars. I have already cocked a snook at Ms. Hornaday for being on drugs, distracted by Twitter, or otherwise incompetent for her one-star review of this marvelous, swashbuckling adaptation of ERB's scientifiction romance, and will not repeat my heckling here; suffice it to say that since the movie has a PG-13 rating, Princess Dejah Thoris (played as a Wrench Wench/Warrior Maid with toothsome deliciousness by Lynn Collins, ook ook slobber drool) is wearing far more clothes than Frank Frazetta ever drew her in. *sigh*

So, yeah - cipherpunk and I went to see the 2d version up in Silver Springs this afternoon, and a great time was had by both of us. Barsoom is appropriately covered in wretched deserts, ruined cities, and majestic buttes reminiscent of Arizona. John Carter is played by Taylor Kitsch, and it's a somewhat more dark and brooding fellow than we saw in the books, but he can still leap enormous distances, smite Tharks with one punch, and in general act like a one-man army when the occasion calls for it. Since this is Barsoom, that's pretty frequent. There have been changes made to the original plot, and a framing device added, and these all work well in my arrogant opinion. This may be the only movie I see more than once in the theaters this year, depending on how good "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" turns out to be. You should go see it, and if your kids aren't averse to (or too young for) mass quantities of the old blue-blooded ultra-violence, you should take them with you. Highly recommended!

*Which, given that this is set in South Carolina during the 1960s, is not greeted by cadets or staff with great joy and celebration



( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 19th, 2012 01:38 pm (UTC)
That's because Frank Frazetta's designs don't stay on real, moving women. Think about plate armour for your hoohoo. I mean, ow.
Mar. 19th, 2012 04:06 pm (UTC)
Well, there is that. This being Disney, I doubt they ever seriously thought about trying.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 19th, 2012 05:06 pm (UTC)
You know, now that you mention it, the red and blue cloaks of Helium and Zodanga were awful hard to tell apart in the melee scenes. It would have been even harder if they'd just gone with the leather harnesses from the book, though.

I found the dark and brooding John Carter of Earth a little annoying, but given the backstory they gave him, understandable; I was very glad, though, that he dropped that dark broodyness for straight-up heroism.

Scanning the Wikipedia articles brought back some old, old memories of reading the Barsoom novels when I was a kid, and made me think - Dejah Thoris' character is going to have to change more from the book version going forward; I don't think audiences will be willing to settle for a passive, relatively helpless damsel in distress now that they've seen an active, smart and dangerous heroine.
Mar. 27th, 2012 10:48 pm (UTC)
things that I think are undervalued and underrepresented in the cinema. -- gonna second that, at least lately they ain't.
Mar. 20th, 2012 01:43 pm (UTC)
Raymond just read
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Raymond just read <i?>Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter</i> recently and really liked it. Me, I've read Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter, and I'm slowly churning my tyres through Mansfield Park And Mummies.

Oh, and speaking of Dejah Thoris, I saw some very nice burlesque last night, one number which included the recitation of the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution...
Mar. 20th, 2012 04:54 pm (UTC)
Well, that's something you don't see every day.
Mar. 27th, 2012 10:47 pm (UTC)
You just made this film sound far more interesting than any of the douchey advertising struck me. I totally would've gone to see something called A Princess Of Mars or had been hinted was illustrated by Frazetta. I'm a sci-fi fan and am embarrassed to call myself ignorant of these facts.
Mar. 28th, 2012 01:20 am (UTC)
Well, I understand A Princess of Mars had already been done straight-to-video, so the title was copyrighted. Anyway, John Carter is still in the movie theaters, at least here in the DC area, so you still have a shot at helping prove Disney wrong.
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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