John Carter – An Incredible Success

The truth is, I’m not a movie aficionado. In fact, I don’t watch movies that often at all. It’s not because I don’t enjoy watching movies, but rather that I’m usually busy trying to keep my life in order. I use up my time among keeping my job, raising my autistic son, and trying to carve out a little ‘me’ time to exercise and occasionally get some sleep.

With that, you should understand that it is a big deal when I decide that there is a movie out there worth seeing that I’m actually willing to pay to see at the theater. It’s an even bigger deal when I decide that the whole family should come. It’s a big event in our household.

I had seen a few previews of John Carter and decided that it was a movie I wanted to see in the theater and that it was a movie that the whole family would enjoy. So we made our plans and off we went.

We did all enjoy the movie. It was excellent. Sure, it’s not Schindler’s List, but it was a really great romp on a foreign planet based upon a classic book. It wasn’t the same-old fare – a replicate of Avatar, or whatever. It certainly wasn’t a flop like Water World. It didn’t follow the usual formula. It kept me guessing and wondering where the plot was going to go. I was engaged.

The things I particularly enjoyed include:

1) The four-armed critters were actually pretty convincing. As a vertebrate paleontologist, I’m always disappointed when the alien species depicted really couldn’t function.

2) The characters seemed genuine, especially John Carter himself. I could totally get why he was so jaded with life.

3) It didn’t feel like a totally CG movie, though I realize that there was a lot of CG in it. Oftentimes, I find too much CG a great distraction, but I wasn’t troubled by it in John Carter. Was it because the technology has improved? Maybe. Equally likely, the movie was conceived in such a way that it’s success wasn’t entirely dependent upon CG. The new Star Wars movies overused CG so much that I can barely watch them.

4) The landscapes and backdrops were home to me. This is a double-edged sword, of course, since I recognized some of the vistas as places I have been. But, seriously, Shiprock is awesome, and the perfect place to stand in as Mars. It was in the Southwest where I learned my trade (geology and paleontology), and love to see my old stomping grounds.

5) And naturally, James Purefoy, who is one of my favorite actors to watch and who seems to have stolen every scene he was in. (Sigh.)

When I heard that John Carter is being described as the “Biggest Flop Ever,” I was dismayed. It’s a perfectly good movie. How could it flop? The fact of it is that Disney seems to have not bothered to advertise the movie in the US. When I think about it, the only reason why I knew about it was that I enjoy cyber-stalking Mr. Purefoy (I’m an adult, I can do that) and I found out about the movie from one of his fan websites. My husband, who watches considerably more television than I do, knew absolutely nothing about the movie. He hadn’t even heard of it. What’s up with that, Disney?

I’m disappointed – seriously – because there’s one other reason why I really liked John Carter.


I mentioned my autistic son earlier. He’s not horribly autistic, some would call him ‘high functioning.’ In the medical parlance, his diagnosis is PDD-NOS, which puts him on the autism spectrum, but not the type of autistic that you might have seen in Rain Man. Nevertheless, to get the boy to a theater and get him to sit through a movie is difficult. It’s something new, something different, so he fights. He could start peeping and acting out during the film. As we were going into the theater he was screaming about how he didn’t want to go and that he would cover his ears and shut his eyes the whole time. We’ve had some poor movie experiences because of his autism, and I was a bit apprehensive. But I was convinced that he would like the film.

The boy sat still and quiet through the whole movie, start to finish. Amazing. And as we left he said, “I guess that was a pretty good movie after all.”


How can John Carter be a ‘flop’? My boy liked it. It was incredible!

This entry was posted in Autism, Home Life, Movies by Penny. Bookmark the permalink.

About Penny

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

6 thoughts on “John Carter – An Incredible Success

  1. I almost feel like the whole thing was a conspiracy by my high school teachers come back to life to persecute me like they used to do for reading the books.

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