A bad movie that never really stood a chance is one thing. I mean, when you see a bad movie starring someone like Katherine Heigl or directed by Brett Ratner, you just sort of shrug and say, “yeah, well, what else was that gonna be, really?” On the other hand, Dark Shadows, Tim Burton and Johnny Depp’s new reimagining of the cult supernatural soap opera, is the most disappointing kind of bad movie, one that constantly teeters right on the edge of being something truly worthwhile, only to keep shooting itself in the foot at nearly every turn. It’s got a decent concept, with seemingly the right director and definitely a very game cast, but something just seems off almost the entire way through. If you could take the word “frustrating” and distill it into film form, it would be this movie.
In all the speculation about why Disney’s John Carter failed at the box-office (poor marketing, limited mainstream appeal, lack of big stars), one potential explanation has remained curiously unmentioned – perhaps most folks just thought the story had already been told well enough in The Asylum’s 2009 adaptation, Princess of Mars.
Ha, I’m just fucking with you. Nobody thinks that.
John Carter, based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic series of sci-novels, arrives encumbered by 100 years of anticipation and unavoidable (though perhaps unfair and unnecessary) talk about its gigantic budget, piss-poor marketing and lack of mainstream appeal. I can’t remember any film in recent memory that has been more under a microscope than this one, and I certainly have my own opinions about how Disney has handled the film and its chances of actually launching a franchise as a result. But that’s a discussion for another day. For now, the question is simply how does John Carter fare as a movie, and I’m happy to report that, despite some undeniable flaws, the film works amazingly well more often than not, and rightfully earns its spot in the pantheon of enjoyable sci-fi adventures.
Watching Hugo, I could definitely see why Martin Scorsese wanted to make this movie. I could also see why, if anyone but Martin Scorsese had made it, it might not have ended up as good as it is. I mean, no offense to the lovers of Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret, but there are a few wonky issues with the storytelling here that came right up to edge of bothering me, but were always immediately forgiven thanks to Scorsese’s fantastic visual sense, a slew of excellent performances, and an “ode to loving cinema” message that I could definitely get behind.
Here’s a sentence I never once uttered: “Boy, I sure can’t wait for a fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie!” But, as I long ago realized, my opinions do not necessarily reflect the millions of other paying moviegoers. You know, the ones that the studios actually give a damn about. And so here we are, with yet another entry in the incredibly popular franchise based on a theme-park ride. Not too shabby for a series that many were predicting as DOA even before the first film was released.