Written by Robin Bell
By Robin Bell
Let's get this straight from the start; this is a science fiction film, and even though its producers have decided to take the 'of Mars' out of the title, they're not fooling anyone.
Let's also get this straight; this film will be considered a flop, no matter what. Walt Disney has said that it expects to lose $200m on this film, which would make it one of the biggest flops in the history of cinema. Hollywood studios will probably blame such a failure on the fact that the genre of the film is science fiction. That isn't the reason that this film will be a washout. Actually, the reason that it won't be successful is difficult to attain - and when something is difficult in Hollywood, then the knee jerk reaction to solving it is usually the quickest - blame science fiction.
What really hampers this long-awaited adaptation of the first novel in Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom series is its faltering start. The story has too many set ups early on. We begin on Mars, then we are shown a snippet of the protagonist in 19th century New York, followed by an appearance by Edgar Rice Burroghs himself, and then John is dead. Only at this point does the narrative begin following the story of John Carter. Not exactly what you might call a smooth opening, but after that I really got into the film and forgave it its fumbling start, although I doubt that others will.
Despite all of this, John Carter of Mars (try as they may to take the sci-fi out of the title, it won't wash with me) was a flop long before it hit the big screen. As soon a budget of $250m for the film was announced, followed by Disney's somewhat confused marketing, this film was always heading the same way as Waterworld. This doesn't seem like a fair fate for John Carter, so please go and make your own mind up.
Robin is the head of film studies at Deeside College. Follow him on Twitter at @robinbellwriter