I knew this would happen. When I saw John Carter a few weeks back I realized that this film, which is profoundly flawed but also often extraordinarily excellent, would fall victim to the 'it rocks/it sucks' binary mentality. As the reviews roll in that is exactly what has been happening, with lazy critics approaching the film solely from the vantage point of an arena crowd of bloated Romans - entertain me in ways that I expect or get the thumbs down.
It's really unfair. The film fails in spots, but it always tries. It's always attempting to do something interesting, it's never settling for the easy moment. I'd rather Hollywood make a hundred movies like this, movies with rough edges and warts, than another Transformers, all of which are completely successful in their vile goals.
What's more, John Carter is a film that offers a female lead who is unlike any we've seen in forever. In 2012 we're finally getting past the idea that girls don't like genre (a belief that ironically hobbled THIS film by making Disney change its name), and a character like Dejah Thoris is so welcome. I don't subscribe to the school of criticism where you talk about your kids or your outside life ad nauseum, but I will make an exception here: I have a baby niece who is the light of my life, and the idea of her growing up with Dejah Thoris as a strong, feminine role model fills me with such excitement.
As film fans we make our voices heard with our ticket purchases. I'm not promising that you'll like John Carter if you see it this weekend (and I'm not saying that people who dislike it are wrong), but I am promising that if this film tanks the studios will look at it as another reason to make movies based on toys, or remakes of TV shows, and to hire music video directors instead of talented, true storytellers like Andrew Stanton.
Anyway, I urge you to make up your own mind on this film this weekend. And I want you to come back here and get into some smart, interesting debate about it. I want to hear from the people who didn't like it as much as I want to hear from the people who did. John Carter is a movie worth talking about.