The basic buzz was that John Carter was a hot mess and Prometheus was awesome.
What utter rot. I cannot stand by silently and let this stand. So here, goddesses, is my chock-full-of-spoilers compare and contrast of both movies. Fasten your seat belts.
What the movies have in common: Sci-fi genre, based on preexisting worlds—in the case of Prometheus, the Alien world created in the first movie and in John Carter, the world created by legendary sci-fi writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. The obvious challenges in writing a story based on a fictional world created long ago are that you have to stick to the story-structure. You can’t break the world. You can’t play fast and loose with viewer expectations, those loyal viewers who will make you pay in blood for messing with “their” story. I think both movies did a good job with this. I’m not speaking for the majority on this.
John Carter has been scorched for not sticking to the novel. Well, in the novel John Carter was flat. He was also kind of a jerk, in my very female opinion. The movie gave John Carter tenderness, a heart-rending past, and cast him as a romantic hero just as much as an action hero. John Carter was a highly sympathetic character. In fact, all of the main characters were highly sympathetic in John Carter. In Prometheus, the most sympathetic character was the robot. Prometheus: that poor, sweet robot. John Carter: rooting for every single good guy/girl/dog-slug (you have to see it). Well done! All fantastic improvements. Nothing at all to gripe about.
But speaking of gripes . . . Prometheus. Logic problems and continuity problems abound. First, there is the problem of the space helmets. The set up: The characters are on a distant planet, the atmosphere is highly hostile to humans, the team explores a cave (and it’s not a deep cave, they walk right into it). The atmosphere in the cave is good for humans, and so they take their helmets off. Why? What kind of idiot explorers and scientists are they? What kind of dope takes off his “this allows me to live in this hostile climate” helmet?
And it gets worse. Now that the gigantic helmets, helmets that did not impede their vision at all and, stepping outside the world of the movie to speak as a movie goer, did not impede me seeing the actors faces at all, now that they’ve been removed, they simply disappear. The characters walk around the creepy cave with their hands free, doing scientific stuff and chatting about this and that. Where are the helmets? Never fear. When the characters need to leave the cave, the helmets magically appear in their hands or on their heads.
The disappearing/appearing helmet would be a fantastic drinking game.
And before I leave the subject of the helmets, there is no reason for either the actors or the characters to remove the helmets. As actors, I can see their faces. As characters, the removal of the helmet does not, in any way, further the plot. There is no bad thing that must happen for the story to work that has anything at all to do with helmets being either on or off.
I’m going to say it again: nothing that happens is dependent upon the helmets being off.
Then there is the big fight scene outside of the ship. One of the crew has been mutated and he’s a monster now and they can all see that he’s a monster and they open the door. When the fighting and killing begins, they do not close the door. What the heck? Close the door and keep the monster out!
I’m not even going to go into the plot hole at the end of the movie where the female protagonist jumps to a conclusion (she does that a lot in the movie) and speeds off to do justice, find the bad guy, get answers . . . all of the above. There is no logic to her conclusion. It’s in the realm of “an Australian mugged me; I must find out what the entire Australian continent has against Americans.” Huh?
Now, let’s talk about the beauty that is John Carter. The world-building is complex, realistic, and logical. There is a mystery that is not meant to be solved in this movie; I can live with that. The action sequences made sense from both a plot and character point of view. John Carter behaves in character throughout the movie, and his motives are lovely, romantic, and touching. When he falls in love, we believe it. We applaud it. We applaud him. He is a reluctant hero, much like the typical Harrison Ford standard role. He is a good action hero and marvelous eye-candy (don’t get me started on the lack of eye candy in Prometheus and the appalling waste of Guy Pearce, one of my favorite actors, who had approximately 5 minutes on screen).
John Carter made sense. It was emotionally, visually, and intellectually lovely. Prometheus was fun visually; I really enjoyed the special effects, but the plot of the movie was a mess, and the sets were boring. The same three cave sets, the same four space ship sets, the same one alien space ship set. For all that money, couldn’t we get more sets? John Carter had lots of sets! John Carter was a visual feast. When I go see a sci-fi action movie, I expect thrilling and varied sets along with special effects. Both movies had great special effects. Kudos to that department.
Thank you, John Carter. You were awesome. And I’m a real fan of your leather outfit. Real. Fan. Kudos to the wardrobe department and your personal trainer.
Your turn. Spew away.