Jackie Gleason once said “What is a Critic? A Critic is someone who relaxes on the rim of the valley and watches all the effort that goes into fighting a battle below and when it is finished, the Critic rides down and kills the survivors.”
So many movies are trying to get made. Green lighted, funded, etc. If you survive the first steps, then actually making the movie has been compared to war. The Producer and Director move an army of production people through all the steps up to release of the film.
Making good movies is hard. Making good movies takes all the elements which include story first and foremost, but then all the craft work such as acting, directing, sets, music, ALL of it.
So my experiment today was this: I bought a ticket to see the movie John Carter. After I watched it, I bought another ticket and watched Safe House. Both were roller coaster rides. Both were lavish with locations and action. Both made me care about the outcome and the lead characters.
Tin Tin and Hugo — which I admit were brilliant productions — were a feast for my eyes. I marveled at the effects and construction of the films. But I DID NOT CARE about the lead characters nearly enough to FORGET the world outside the theater.
I want to suspend time and stop the noise of everyday life and enter a theatre and be taken away for just a couple of hours. Then I want to be returned safely to my home and remember the films that suspended time for me.
Remember how you felt after seeing Avatar, and latest Star Trek remake, and The Matrix and you said silently to yourself – Wow! that was something really different. And then you remember how you felt seeing the first Star Wars and now years later, you realize that George Lucas is a master of visuals and sets and effects and has absolutely NO plot writing skill. He steals every plot element and has stilted characters deliver the lines instead of letting them “act”. Star Wars is a money machine (and was a visual treat for every science fantasy lover out there in the 1977). Lucas’ Indiana Jones and Raiders of the Lost Ark was the exception.
So what I got out of my experiment today was this: I’ve read a lot of pre-release reviews about how the Disney Movie (PG-13) John Carter is going to fail at the box office. It might. Simply because of terrible marketing. I just read one review in the LA Times. (Don’t read it if you hate spoilers.) And so I’m here as ONE SINGLE ticket buyer to tell you this: IF you decide to take a two hour break from life this weekend, John Carter is every bit as much fun as you can have at a movie and it delivers that suspension of time in grand, magnificent style.
I recommend it to you NOT as a “must see” film but as a genuine good use of your movie dollar.
Celebrate the excellent. A lot of people worked very hard to create this two hours and I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Everyone’s a critic. Your mileage may vary. -Robert Barnes
PS: In case you wondered… Safe House was excellent as a Bourne Identity style action movie. But John Carter was “Fun” and exceptional and really benefits from the big screen. Don’t wait for this one on your TV. John Carter is based on the series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs who later wrote Tarzan.