When I was a kid, this being a grown up thing seemed a lot better than it actually is. Turns out that being a grown up kinda sucks.
It’s particularly difficult being a grown up nerd, who’s lived on pop culture and seen Flash Gordon, Return of the Jedi, and Temple of Doom in the theaters the first time around. Who grew up in the shadow of Star Trek and who’s life was changed by Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
I know that feeling. That feeling of larger than life wonder and being swept away in an epic space adventure with a bold hero and a scrappy heroine and really alien aliens in a place where everyone’s wearing stuff we’d never wear on poopy old Earth.
The older I get, though, the harder it is to go back there.
And sometimes that’s really all I want. For a moment, to feel like I’m six years old and sitting in a theater watching Luke Skywalker and the gang taking down the Empire. Not even for an entire movie – just for a moment. This probably makes me shallow, but I’ll happily take that one kid-like moment, looking wide-eyed at that screen, over just about any movie experience. In. A. Heartbeat.
That’s what I got from John Carter on Friday afternoon.
Was is perfect? No. Was it a groundbreaking film about the human condition? No. Did I feel like I was six years old while watching it? Yes. Therefore, it’s a winner.
What John Carter does really well is capturing the mood of those pulp movies I love and making it look retro without looking outdated. It also succeeds in visually calling back to those other movies from time to time in a way that feels like a fond memory.
Problems? Like most movies of its kind, it could stand to lose fifteen minutes in the middle. Taylor Kitsch has trouble moderating his voice and at times he sounds like Christian Bale’s Batman; at others, John Wayne. But, there’s so much that is so much fun, those issues are forgivable.
For me, for this particular movie, the fun was the whole point.
John Carter is a movie that knows what it is and has a sense of humor about itself. It knows its job is to be swashbucklingly outrageous and it delivers. Everything about it is a throwback to a simpler time when an afternoon at the movies was, in itself, an adventure.