March 18th, 2012

Happy

The Return Of The Washington Post Movie Reviewer Theory

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
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