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Getting Carter

Tuesday 13 March 2012, 16:38

Mark Kermode Mark Kermode

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The long-awaited John Carter opened last weekend.

The film cost $250 million to make and the box office figures are so far pretty underwhelming - but does any of this matter?

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    Comment number 1.

    They spent $250.000.000 on that? And Andrew Stanton doesn't care? That's one hell of an expensive bad home movie.

    And they wonder why piracy is rife when studios spend obscene amounts of money on rubbish like this and then they cry about losing money through piracy.
    I don't condone it of course but really Hollywood is like a child that's just completed a join the dots or colour by numbers picture and shown it to a parent and the parent has said 'That's nice honey, could you not draw your own picture next time...'

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    Comment number 2.

    I think it will end up right at $400 million worldwide. If China decides to pick it up as one of the few foreign movies they allow each year, that total could jump up to $500 million or more. China has been a huge box office over that last few years for film such as Avatar and The Dark Knight and have helped propell them to being two of the top five grossing movies of all time

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    Comment number 3.

    I haven't seen the film and i won't be going to see it so I'll place no opinion on the film except it didn't really entice me enough to be interested. I like disney and I don't really like to see a film flop because losing money is bad for the film industry. It does makes me realise all the money they spent was wasted when it could have been put into better use, like a good movie for instance. I also feel bad that Andrew Stanton who is terrific has kind of failed with this film if I go by your opinion Mr.Kermode (who wouldn't?) hopefully he can succesfully get back on his feet after this.

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    Comment number 4.

    I have just seen it and i've got to say it's not the best. Well thats an understatement to be honest but if you're going to make a film that long, and lets be honest that silly, surely it should be fun just and you should just enjoy the ride with your brain switched off. But it just wasnt. I dont think it would be better if it had a big star like Tom Cruise and do i care about big budgets? Well, no i dont. I also watched Equillibrium on the weekend and that had a budget of about $20 million ten times less than John Carter and yet Equillibrium was at least ten times better. However, that is not to say i dont care about how much money the film eventually takes for two resons. Firstly if it is awful and takes loads of money, ie Transformers, we will undoubtably suffer having to see a sequel made. But secondly if it is a brilliant film that doesnt do too well then it will never get a sequel but more inportantly the people who made it, I'm thinking Terry Gilliam etc, will struggle to find funding for other projects. No matter how good a film is the sad fact of life dictates that if it doesnt make money then the makers are unlikely to get another chance any time soon.

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    Comment number 5.

    I think the problems were only exacerbated when the filmmakers themselves seemed to lose confidence in the product. The director was defensive in his interview on the Five Live show and the studio clearly feared they had a turkey on their hands with this Avatar apeing tripe. So the question is why is there no A List star if, as you say Mark, that makes a guaranteed moneymaker more likely?

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    Comment number 6.

    I was thinking of going to see it until I saw what the critics thought of it. It appears that Dr K hated it, Roger Ebert gave it 2 and a half stars and Empire magazine gave it 3 stars (and found the movie horrifyingly average) and Christopher Tookey gave it a turkey rating.

    I think the problem with John Carter is that when it was a pulp scifi book, it was ground breaking but that was back in 1911. Since then all the major scifi movies have taken ideas from it and now John Carter looks very, very tired. With a $250 million budget, people were expecting a lot more and when you combine that with 3D added in post production, the people seem to be saying "we don't give a fluffin muffin about this movie in either 2 or 3D!" If a studio is spending $250 million on a movie, then it should be good. What Disney has done is throw a massive budget at a shopword story and ended up with a movie that in the minds of the critics (and more importantly the audience) is mediocre to very poor.

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    Comment number 7.

    Hi Mark,
    I saw it in Paris last week. I was worried about the 3D (which I dislike and try to avoid when I can); however, to me it was a pleasant surprise. I thought the story worked, the creatures were great, and I liked the fact that the director didn't take himself too seriously, there was humor and I could see the man behind Wall-E in it. I wasn't even greatly put off by the 3D, as I had been, for example, in Hugo (I know you liked it, but honestly, it was just as cheesy as any of Audrey Tautou's Jeunet films).
    The funny thing is I remember having seen Kenneth Branagh's Thor following your quite glowing review and finding *that* one to be a complete turd, utterly ridiculous from beginning to end. Perhaps I should take your 3D blockbuster reviews with a grain of salt in the future -with the exception of Transformers movies, of course. :-)

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    Comment number 8.

    Box office: embraced when it bolsters opinion (loved the film and it cleaned up / hated the film and it bombed), dismissed when it contradicts opinion (loved the film and it bombed / hated the film and it cleaned up). FIN.

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    Comment number 9.

    Dr K,
    I did see John Carter, except when I did, it was called Conan the Barbarian, Troy, Immortals, 300, and Prince of Persia. I’m (almost) through complaining about these lousy, overwrought movies. It's become difficult to even get frustrated that this is the kind of movie I have to look forward to in the theater.

    There is a silver lining in that movies like John Carter motivate me to catch up on old classics I haven’t seen yet.

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    Comment number 10.

    No, I haven't seen and I'm in no particular rush to.
    But what I have seen is Mark Atkins' "Princess of Mars" (2009) which, I'm prepared to bet, is a far more entertaining movie made for a fraction of the catering costs for "John Carter".

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    Comment number 11.

    I think Mark seems to have a bias towards this sort of material in general. If it has a lion cloth and sword he just doesn’t like it. He were none too kind on Immortals too. I say this upon the hearing silliness he placed on things like the names and places in the movie. I guess Twilight doesn’t deserve this level of ridicule despite the many avenues of approach?!
    I for one loved john Carter movie. I love this material. But it was bit lacking in some parts and was clearly heavily interfered with. It was not brilliant but it was still really enjoyable and not a turkey like many critics suggest. Conan The Barbarian was a true turkey.
    Yes the deserts got boring and yes some parts felt a bit dull. But then I thought The Assassination of Jessie James was unbelievably boring and I fell lacking. I am not going to dump on a film because I personally found it boring. If I do not like something, I am not going to tell folks it is bad when it clearly is not. It’s just not my sort of movie.

    The reason I want John Carter to succeed is because I love this material and I want more of it. This sword and planet material is true cinema popcorn fun in my opinion.
    It seems many critics have been dying to dump on this movie and now it has not done well, they feel all vindicated. I am not saying that Mark is one of these but here, it feels a bit like, “ha, I told you so”.

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    Comment number 12.

    I think what Andrew Stanton meant when he says he doesn't care is about the box office, was that he concerns himself in making the best possible film that he can stand behind. Although, John Carter, ahem...(of Mars) is silly, badly written and has clearly had studio interference, but it is never boring. I predict that it will under preform at box office and be remembered as a flop in witch some science fiction film fans will revisit.

    So do it care if it cost $250.000.000? No!

    Do i care if it makes that money back? Only if i want a sequal.

    So no.

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    Comment number 13.

    I have no interest in this film whatsoever. The fact that it cost a quarter of a billion dollars to make, makes no impact on me whatsoever. That said I'm a 30 year old man and perhaps I'm not the sort of demographic that gets impressed by how much money is spent on a film, unless it's a tremendously small budget and the film has an amazing word of mouth buzz going, or the subject matter is not the usual fare and has had a stupendous amount of money spent on it. The last time a budget truly impressed me was Titanic. 200 million, a truly Titanic budget. But only if a film had a budget of say half a billion dollars, or something that was astronomically huge would it make me sit up and take notice. As it is, the title of this film was uninspiring, the trailer made it look like Prince of Persia vs some Aliens, and it failed to inspire me to even consider going to see it, and I don't have any friends who have mentioned it to me, save for a die hard movie freak friend of mine who seems to see every theatrical release going. I think becoming interested in a movie just because it has a big budget is at best superficial and shallow, and at worst that notion just doesn't sit well with the current economic climate of the Western world. Extravagance and luxury are anathema to what most of the English speaking world is experiencing right now. We want films made by underdogs. I'm personally rather glad that this movie is not going to be a financial success. Slapping a big budget and Disney onto a movie does not a great cinematic experience make.

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    Comment number 14.

    If John Carter doesn't do well at the box office then we have to say that Disney have taken a spanking this year. Mars needs Moms lost bucket loads and John Carter could be another nail in the 3D coffin. I doubt that John Carter will warrant a sequel.

    I was really excited to see john carter after I heard of its influence on the history of science fiction however, after the wave of poor reviews I'm not so sure any more.

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    Comment number 15.

    I don't care if it makes money or what it costed and I could care even less about the film, I have no desire to ever see it.

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    Comment number 16.

    I saw it and have to say 10-20 minutes in I felt my life force draining away and knew I would fall asleep at some stage. The film was boring, overlong, derivatively constructed of a dozen or so much better films and worst of all for me born alienating and tired screen play which made no sense at all.

    But a question Mark - Are weekend figures still the legitimate marker for the industry to use? Its very rare that anything is packing out Friday and Saturday nights, most Multiplexes do cheap Tuesdays as well as Orange Wednesdays which seem to be the big nights these days.

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    Comment number 17.

    Isn't it interesting that so much of the media coverage about this film has been from an industrial/financial point of view?

    What does that portend for the film, the film industry, the media, and our societal response to the above?

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    Comment number 18.

    While the good Doctor's review didn't fill me with optimism I decided to view this movie with an open mind.I came out with an sense it was underwhelming and uninspiring and instantly forgettable,although the ' flimflom of the twididum ' language made sure you were concentrating,but even so sometimes it did disappear up its own ' tredalpip ' but to label it boring is in my view a little harsh,I think lost would be a better word.All the wizz bangs of the special effects made me think I've seen it all before and I think that's one of its main problems;the story has been plundered over the years from so many Directors and Writers there's nothing original left on its carcass.The studios panicky fingerprints are all over it;throwing everything they can at it to make it more palatable to a mainstream audience.This may be the most over egged pudding of a movie due to their interference.

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    Comment number 19.

    Well I enjoyed it. I saw it in London at the weekend. I haven't seen Troy, Immortals, Prince of Persia, etc. so clearly I didn't notice the lack of originality. As a female rapidly approaching middle age, I'm probably not in the studio's target audience; but I did enjoy spotting all the British actors in supporting roles!

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    Comment number 20.

    Seems like everybody want to dump on this movie even when they have not seen it. I think there's a touch of snobbery going around if I may say it. Though both folks on Film 2012 liked the movie.
    I am confident that if one were to rummage through each hater's DVD collection, there would be something that cost a lot, bombed in the box office but they felt was a decent movie. Mark has Howard the Duck.

 

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Outspoken, opinionated and never lost for words, Mark is the UK's leading film critic.

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