Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Opinion: Will Critics Save or Doom John Carter?


Another opinion piece. Don't get angry!

As we head closer to John Carter's release the critic reviews are starting to hit. Granted a few hit mostly in Twitter world (the same ones Disney has used in their "Critics" TV spots) but most of them seem to be of the geek variety-the Harry Knowles brigade. Now the magazine and newspaper critics are getting their turn. And the early word? Well it depends on what side of the theater aisle you are sitting in.

Some of the reviews have been gushing praise, others mixed to positive and some flat out negative. (If you want an idea hit http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/john_carter/. Right now the movie has a 75 percent "fresh" rating. But it doesn't have all the reviews in so it might raise or drop anytime). The question is will they save or doom this film before it hits.

Now in this day and age critics are almost seen as being out of step with what people do go see at the movies. The idea of the "critic proof" blockbuster (which seems to have started with the orginal release of Star Wars Episode I-The Phantom Menace) has resulted in such lucrative-but crtically damned-franchises like Transformers, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Fast and The Furious. On the other hand critics do on occasion give glowing reviews to blockbusters-last summer's Rise of the Planet of the Apes and the more recent Harry Potter films for example-so they're not all film snobs.

But the question is can they help a movie-especially one with as much negative press as John Carter? As we all know Disney has had problems with the marketing. Stories have become ripe of budget overruns, reshooting and the appearance of a movie out of control. If audiences haven't bought the marketing will they believe Roger Ebert and his ilk? Especially when the target audience that Disney is seeking might not put much stock in their opinions-and I'm not talking fanboys either. I don't think fanboys were lining up for The Vow recently and that got pretty trashed.

On the other hand a good critical review can get audiences into the seats. Such films like District 9 benefitted from the critics giving them thumbs up which can help offset negative press or give the film a boost when pitted against stiff competition. And while John Carter doesn't seem to be facing much opening weekend (the horror flick Silent House seems to be the only other major release) the next few weeks will see it pitted against the highly hyped Hunger Games which might cut in-especially if the response is tepid.

The other issue I've seen is this use of critics to validate someone's own opinion. This has become noticeable on message boards and online forums where it seems there are two camps-the one that has total faith in this movie and believes it will be a masterpiece, the other believing that the film is a disaster and will bomb big time. It seems some are using any positive or negative comments they can find-whether it be some big name critic or some 15 year old on Twitter-to back up their claims of it being a masterpiece or a bomb.

My own thought is this-go with your gut. If this film looks great-or you have waited it as long as I and other Edgar Rice Burroughs fans have then go see it. It doesn't matter whether this film gets glowing reviews or not. If it looks bad then skip it. No one is forcing you to go. For myself I'm going because I'm a fan not because some critic likes it or doesn't. Their opinion isn't important to me and it shouldn't be to other people. Yes it's nice to get love from the critics if you're a filmmaker but to the average moviegoer that isn't important. What's important was were they entertained? And if you were the movie is then a winner which is what matters most. OK?

1 comment:

bruce said...

Great piece! A nice, level-headed approach to get through the home stretch. The message boards of places like aint it cool news, IMDB, and the like are really insane...many of these people have not seen the movie, and are setting up these highly rigid camps. Reading through these boards kind of leaves one depressed...I suppose I should stop! It goes both ways in terms of absurdity...people who defend, and people who attack. Of course I'm excited to see the movie, but I won't know what its like until I actually see the friggin' movie!