Wednesday, February 22, 2012

FEATURE: John Carter a ''4/5'' Movie

Despite last week's report that the upcoming John Carter had been universally shunned by potential female viewers and that brand recognition seemed to be dismally low, we're hearing whispers that the movie itself is actually... pretty good.

First up, has an extended, almost play-by-play Review in which the movie is described as ''Historical. Emotional'' and awarded a 4/5 rating. 

Interestingly, the movie seems to be less action-orientated than the trailers imply (and I'm not saying women don't enjoy action movies but perhaps this is one of the reasons why it tested so poorly among potential female viewers) and that the movie's core romantic relationship between Carter and Dejah Thoris works well due to the fact that Kitsch and Collins ''sizzle.''

This comes following Ain't It Cool News' Harry Knowles tweet last week that:

JOHN CARTER is spectacular. The second that Edgar sits to begin reading Uncle Jack's diary... pure magic till the end.

and went on to describe it as ''an intriguing, involving, emotional motion picture.''

This, of course, then begs the question: just how did Disney get the marketing so wrong?

It would seem that Disney's focus on action sequences, epic battles and the generally violent aspects of the movie is their biggest misstep, given their brevity in a movie that seems as much about personal relationships and character development as it is about war and conflict. That could certainly explain why the female audience was turned-off by the movie's trailers.

Perhaps most baffling though is the fact that Disney elected to drop the original title - A Princess of Mars - due to the negative messages it sent to both genders (they claimed male viewers would not watch a movie with the word ''princess'' in its name and that women would not go to see a movie with the word ''Mars'' in the title.) Not since the Red Dragon was re-titled Manhunter has studio made such a woefully shortsighted choice. After all, the name of an existing work brings brand recognition and to change it is a very dangerous thing to do.

It also seems very strange that a movie that seems to have a romantic core would be pitched as an action movie. Action fans will be probably feel they were mislead and the audience looking for a character-centric piece won't pay to see what they perceive as a ''dumb action flick.''

Disney execs have claimed that the marketing campaign for the movie is only in its early stages and if that's the case we may see a turnaround in the audience's perception. And Disney must still feel confident, as Willem Dafoe revealed yesterday that the cast has signed-on to return for a series of sequels - ''if [John Carter] succeeds.''

Personally I don't think the quality of John Carter as a movie will be the deciding factor and that unless Disney do something very soon to turn-around the audience's ideas about this movie, it's doubtful we'll be seeing any sequels.

John Carter lands in theatres next month.

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