“I don’t understand the logic in saying Disney is taking a risk. Stanton hit a grand slam with Finding Nemo. Why WOULDN’T Disney pay him a gazillion dollars to do the sequel? The failure of John Carter should have no bearing on whether Finding Nemo 2 will be successful. Stanton has proven twice he can do well with animated films. If anything, this move is the complete opposite of “risky”.
Btw – Thus far, John Carter has made more money globally than Brave (that will change once Brave opens in more territories)."
I meant they may possibly be taking a risk on John Carter 2. Not Finding Nemo 2, that’ll do fine. But in addition to being a financial failure (it made more money globally but cost too much), it was also pretty panned and even the apologists were like, “Well it wasn’t as good as it could have been but yay, geek service!” I think some people who saw Carter want a sequel in order for it to be better than what happened, and that’s Stanton’s intent, but does that bring in the larger audiences who just didn’t like it?
Yeah, what interested me about the article was how much better it is at reading out from the film, and the genre it inhabits, than is normally the case for these sorts of ideologically interested essays. The trend is to generally read the world into the film and play loose with what is actually happening onscreen, using the movie as a sort of locus for some larger interest rather than seeing the film as it is. Obviously I can’t comment on how “true” this essay is to my feelings on the movie since I won’t likely see it for many months at best, but the points raised generally have some validity and the method brought to bear, heh, seems solid. My own interest in the film was enhanced when you and Jazz started to talk about the mother turning into a bear, since, as the article suggests, mothers featuring prominently in these stories is in itself rare. (And also seems to be a signal for poor box office returns, which in some cases seems entirely predictable. Mars Needs Moms anyone? How could you think a film about a boy entering his teen years needing his mother would make money? I can’t think of many subjects that young teenish boys would be more squigged out by. Add to that the sort of implicit Oedipal issues raised in her saving, and the less than stellar formal elements, and that film just begged to bomb.)
A lot of the reviews of John Carter take pains to point out how Stanton really didn’t do that bad a job with Carter blaming the failure more on the marketing, and that may be true, but it also could be said how standard the film is and how that in itself suggests that what might be separating the “winners” from the losers at the box office is indeed what Hollywood seems to think it is, name recognition, more than anything else, hence the constant barrage of sequels.
Wait, are they talking about doing a John Carter 2? And Andrew Stanton wants to do it?
If Stanton wants a second chance at live action, he should ditch John Carter and find another property.
Or beg Tom Cruise to do a Mission: Impossible movie.
That review that Greg linked is fabulous! I highly recommend it. It’s one of the best reviews I’ve read. It makes a really compelling case for it’s reading—one that illuminates the film (and, if correct, makes mince-meat of my reading—which I say somewhat begrudgingly). Still, I don’t know if I’m ready to throw in the towel just yet (but I’m pretty close), but the writer’s interpretations demands to be taken seriously. If she’s right, this is a much better film than I have given it credit for.
“A lot of the reviews of John Carter take pains to point out how Stanton really didn’t do that bad a job with Carter blaming the failure more on the marketing”
Most of the reviews I read said that it was topheavy, the action was mostly boring, and the story was slim.
This is like the third time I’ve mentioned poor reviews and you’ve countered with others, so I guess it must be the sources of the reviews. I stick to a lot of local reviews and reviews written from the sort of sources that would be interested (fanzines for John Carter, i.e.). Or maybe just the reviews that stick out for me are negative or something…..
“Wait, are they talking about doing a John Carter 2? And Andrew Stanton wants to do it?
If Stanton wants a second chance at live action, he should ditch John Carter and find another property."
Santino, Stanton and Andrews have ideas to develop two more scripts and are eager and hopeful to get the chance to produce them if possible
""We’re ready to go. As soon as somebody from Disney says, ‘We want ’John Carter 2,’’ we’d be right there." (Andrews also says that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Michael Chabon will be back to co-write the additional films.)"
I think, as much as anything, John Carter failed because virtually no one wanted to see an anarchonistic sci-fi action film.
I wouldn’t have minded seeing that^. But the trailers made me stay away (and the subsequent criticism).
^^Most people didn’t even know it was a sci-fi film i bet! they shouldn’t have changed the title from John Carter from Mars(???!! I think that was it) to just plain old John Carter, as if somehow such a bland title would entice audiences to see it.
‘Oh John Carter!! How intriguing! i wonder what that’s all about? Better pay to find it!!’
Glad to see you liked the article Jazz. I thought it was a good one too.
Polaris, i think you might be right about the review thing as I tend to read more late reviews online from blogs and whatnot which also tend to speak to the earlier reviews in the mainstream press, but that is info I am only getting secondhand. For the most part it doesn’t matter too much as here I was only using the reviews as a sort of proxy for my own judgment as well as I didn’t want to limit it to my own views given the point was more about the general ability shown in the film. There isn’t much need to try and unpack who said what where as the general point was just that the film is pretty much as good or competent as the others of its ilk, so the reason for its failure, to my mind, had more to do with audience indifference for whatever reason that might be.
OK, I recently re-watched this. I wanted to discuss some issues, as well as address the terrific "review"http://thenewinquiry.com/essays/just-another-princess-movie/ that Greg linked. First some thoughts and questions off the top of my head:
I need some help untangling the bear metaphor. What does the bear signify and represent? There’s one significant scene in particular that I’m not sure how to read—i.e. the one where the Queen, as a bear, takes off her crown and starts catching fish with Merida. Close-ups of the crown coming off and, later, sitting by itself on a rock suggest that this is an important symbolic act. The crown might represent status and notions of success for a woman; expectations and norms and roles imposed on women—maybe by women (including feminists) themselves.
Taking off the crown might signify her putting aside all of this, and catching fish, as a bear, might represent…embracing something more natural and free? A part of me wonders if the bear represents a masculine or wild energy, which is in opposition with the more feminine and civilized sensibility. The former is something that Merida embraces, while she rejects the latter (not completely). I’m wondering if the mother taking off her the narrower feminine role and embracing the a more masculine one she understands Merida more—and maybe she becomes more balanced and whole human being. One of the last images in the film is a of a woven tapestry of Merida and bear facing each other signifying some connection or harmony, and that seems to support the reading I just mentioned.
But how does this fit with the Mor’du? Mor’du becomes a bear out of over-ambition (evil?). The bear could still symbolize the wild, natural and masculine as opposed to civilized, social or feminine. But Mor’du, as we see him, doesn’t have any humanity like Elinor, the Queen, does. So he’s fully given over himself to the wild and barbaric.
What about the significance and meaning of Elinor becoming a bear? Merida wants to change her fate—she wants to get her own way. This seems similiar to Mor’du—wanting to get his own way, without consideration for the well-being of others and the Kingdom. So the transformation is a result of ego-centricism and selfishness. So maybe these points are examples of the film dealing with the tension between the individual and society.
As for Lily Loobourow’s article, I have two points that I want to address before I concede completely to her reading.
1. I want make sure she’s not reading too much into the film.
2. I want to make sure she’s not in love with her hypothesis to the extent that she’s forcing the film to fit into that hypothesis.
I’ll have to re-read the review and think more about her reading before I can confidently answer this question. My sense is that she’s on the mark for the most part and that these two points aren’t big issues. The other point I want to address is her claim that the film isn’t cliched. I’m not sure she’s completely correct here, but, again, I’ll have to re-read the article.
cars is garbage
Well, you know this stuff is aimed at kids, not adults. I took my daughter to see Brave and she loved it. Who am I to argue?
It looks like business as usual to me.
I must know, where was that chart generated? Did you actually do it yourself or is it part of some Internet thing?
I don’t know how to use Excel, or whatever it is you would use to generate such a chart, so I made it at KIDS’ ZONE. Haha. :)
First thing that showed up in a google search for “make simple chart”.
Well, you know this stuff is aimed at kids, not adults. I took my daughter to see Brave and she loved it. Who am I to argue?
I don’t know. Personally, I don’t think you can use that as a way to judge a film. It’s like saying teenagers loved Twilight targets young females and they love it, so who are we to argue? I think kids can enjoy a bad children’s film, just as adults can enjoy bad films geared at them.
Huh. I’m a little surprised that you don’t seem to think so highly of Pixar films. (I noticed that The Incredibles isn’t on the chart. Did you not see it?)
I’m curious of hear if you can generalize your relatively middling to low approval of the films?
And what made Wall-E and Day and Night so good for you, particularly the latter? (I really liked that one, too, but 10 seems to be a bit high.)
Hey Jazz, no I haven’t seen The Incredibles. I’m sure I will eventually.
My sister (age 8) enjoys Pixar movies which is why I have so many titles on that chart up there. I may not enjoy them much but of course I’m going to make the extra effort to feed her budding cinephile habits of seeking out everything by artists that she enjoys (she’s actually a much bigger Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki fan, as am I, so that list of shorts and features would be even larger).
I don’t think too highly of Pixar. In fact, to me, I consider them to be quite low quality in animation as a whole, even contemporary animation. I enjoy the contemporary output from Japan and France much more than the current state of American animation. Still, I think animation itself is pretty much an abused medium, deemed by too many people to be nothing more than a children’s medium — which almost all the studios play into.
I feel Pixar itself is one of the worst when it comes to humour. The jokes aimed at adults are often so obvious, and only “funny” because “We get it and our kids don’t”, or because a talking animal is the one delivering such an adult line; That doesn’t resonate with me. Then the humour aimed at the kids seems to be aimed at the most primitive of minds. That dog in Up, Ellen in Nemo, or the whole of Cars for example.
I’ll just end by saying, though my sister does like Pixar and Dreamworks movies (I’m always shocked at the debates about which of these studios are better when I consider them to be equally mediocre) I’ve never heard her laugh nearly as hard at them as she has for ParaNorman, or any Looney Tunes animation, have as much interest in the meaning behind them as she did for The Lorax (1972), or Porco Rosso, or take an interest in the world and characters (by drawing them over and over and asking me to request the manga’s and artbooks at our library) as she has for Nausicaa, Totoro, and Spirited Away. So why exactly are these movies talking down to both me, as an adult, and her, as a child? That’s what I feel Pixar movies do and that’s why I don’t enjoy them much.
Truthfully WALL-E may be rated a bit too highly, I have yet to revisit it. I absolutely loved the first 20 minutes of that movie. Beautiful animation, and a great way of showing the results of an Earth rotted with the remains of consumerism, and the love story itself is great, without the need for dialogue of a cliche punky teenager or an inuendo delivering barbie doll. After that, though, I feel it suffers from some of the usual Pixar patronizing. It’s still good, I liked it, but the beginning absolutely dwarfs the rest.
As for Day and Night, I thoroughly enjoy that and I’ve revisited it many times. The animation is playful, inventive, fresh, and when you understand the depth of it all, after they hear the “Fear of the Unknown” snippet, the following celebration of differences makes you tear up, or at least it did for me. Something tells me Dr. Seuss would have loved it. :)
So you don’t like Pixar because of the quality of the animation and the humor? The former surprises me, maybe even shocks me. Actually, I don’t react as positively to Pixar’s animation as some, but I do think it’s good—and sometimes very good. But I should qualify my remarks by saying that I have a hard time judging computer-based animation. The capabilities of computer animation is so high, and many people seem to do it well—not just Pixar. Or at least I have trouble seeing significant differences between the quality in Pixar’s animation versus other films. Still, I don’t think the quality is low. What are some examples of contemporary animated films that have superior animation?
Then the humour aimed at the kids seems to be aimed at the most primitive of minds. That dog in Up, Ellen in Nemo,…
Erm, uh, those were the funniest characters in either film! Unga-bunga! Seriously, I don’t think the films are terrifically funny (although Ellen Degeneris was my favorite part of Nemo and I think there were some funny moments in Bug’s Life and Toy Story, but I don’t recall at this point), but I only think humor is part of the films’ appeal. Toy Story is more of drama, for example. In any event, I see your point.
So why exactly are these movies talking down to both me, as an adult, and her, as a child? That’s what I feel Pixar movies do and that’s why I don’t enjoy them much.
But just because your sister doesn’t like them as much as other animated films, does that mean the films are talking down to her?
Truthfully WALL-E may be rated a bit too highly, I have yet to revisit it. I absolutely loved the first 20 minutes of that movie. Beautiful animation, and a great way of showing the results of an Earth rotted with the remains of consumerism, and the love story itself is great, without the need for dialogue of a cliche punky teenager or an inuendo delivering barbie doll.
The first twenty minutes is terrific (you didn’t like the early scenes in Up?), and I liked the love story, but the sub-plot and action sequences interfered with that story, imo.
Oh, you know, by low-quality I meant overall (animation, story, character/world design, music, etc) and not just the animation specifically. In fact that may be what I have the least problem with. My wording was a little funny on that. I do admit I’m more into traditional animation than I am computer animation, so I guess one could say I am biased against computer-animation but I would disagree, I think it comes down to the fact that computer-animation is usually used in pretty uncreative ways. When computer animation is good I love it just as well as traditional animation.
Instead of being redundant with what I do enjoy I’ll link to this comment I made in another thread on animation: http://mubi.com/comments/628857
I’m not saying because my sister doesn’t like them that they are talking down to her. I was just summing up that paragraph and the one prior to it. I believe they talk down to kids by being quite simplistic in their jokes (ie. Dory: I shall call him Squishy and he shall be mine and he shall be my Squishy. Come on, Squishy Come on, little Squishy.) and, in my eyes, they only contain that very base level of humour.
I think humour works on many tiers, and I closely associate how I view it to this bit of interview from Paul Schrader. I’m going to include a lot of this since it all relates and it’s something I’ve read that I always think back to yet it’s nowhere on the internet yet!
JOHN BRADY: Why the Mohawk haircut on Travis in Taxi Driver?
PAUL SCHRADER: That was a Vietnam thing. Marty Scorsese and Bobby De Niro interviewed an ex-Green Beret who told them if a Special Force member felt he was going to die, he would shave his head into a Mohawk as a warning to his fellow soldiers. What he meant was “Don’t fuck with me. I’m going over the hill.” It’s part of the private Vietnam language of the film. The film never mentions Vietnam, but it’s full of Vietnam language.
JOHN BRADY: That’s quite revealing.
PAUL SCHRADER: Some people pick up on it.
JOHN BRADY: I think, though, in terms of the film, it’s obscure. Is that intentional?
PAUL SCHRADER: There should be things in films that only five percent of the audience picks up on. You put things in a film that not everybody gets. Some things seventy-five percent get; some fifty percent; some ten percent. You can’t make everything obvious. Sometimes I say to the cinematographer, “If we hold a little longer, this will be clear.” But we don’t do it. I say, if twenty-five percent of the people who watch this movie understand this bit of action, I will be happy. Because if I had to show it long enough for everybody to see, it would become noticeable and wouldn’t work. I love to throw things away. Let each viewer pick up what he wants.
JOHN BRADY: But if a film gets too internal, it becomes like some contemporary poetry. Unreadable.
PAUL SCHRADER: No. You have to have a strong center line. You throw away from there. You keep your center line strong. You don’t fuck with that. But you throw away a hundred things out of that so that people can go to the same movie and come out with entirely different experiences because they pick up on the things that mean something to them. They miss the things that don’t. But they’re all valid. Like Blue Collar is full of black code language that whites won’t understand. It’s full of worker code language that non-autoworkers won’t understand. And that’s good. The moment you explain it, you’ve hurt it.
An example of this, applied to humour, would be the Marx Brothers. These people almost perfectly represent the varying degrees of humour, all of which is necessary — all of which I love. Groucho himself delivers lines so fast, and often obscurely witty, that I find him the main reason why I have to continue to re-experience these movies. When I watch Pixar movies, which I do deem to be mostly comedies, I feel all we get is Chico, and even then I find that an insult to Chico!
I’ll have to revisit WALL-E again to comment any further on that. :)
As for the early scenes in Up, I found them too forced and rushed for me to gain any feeling towards the characters at that pace. To me I felt it was just there to quickly get into peoples minds “You know adults worked on this movie!” before continuing on into a silly children’s film.
Oh, you know, by low-quality I meant overall (animation, story, character/world design, music, etc) and not just the animation specifically. In fact that may be what I have the least problem with. My wording was a little funny on that.
Oh, OK. I’m more sympathetic to this reading.
When computer animation is good I love it just as well as traditional animation.
Instead of being redundant with what I do enjoy I’ll link to this comment I made in another thread on animation*
I didn’t get to read all the posts or watch all the examples, but based on the few clips I saw, I’m not sure if Pixar’s animation is inferior so much as you prefer more hand-drawn (or a mixture of a hand-drawn animation with computer animation). Or maybe you prefer the “anime” look? I can’t really see a dramatic difference. (Also, you can’t just the quality of the animation on a trailer—especially for anime. They often so the best animation in those trailers and the quality in the actual film or TV show can be dramatically different.)
I think humour works on many tiers, and I closely associate how I view it to this bit of interview from Paul Schrader….When I watch Pixar movies, which I do deem to be mostly comedies, I feel all we get is Chico, and even then I find that an insult to Chico!
I liked the exchange between Schrader and the interviewer. But are you saying that all the comedy (or other types of film, for that matter) that has to be multi-tiered? Some films do function in that way, but other good films, do not, imo. What I’m saying is that I don’t think we can condemn a film for having only “Chico-humor.”
I do think that some of the dramatic and comedic moments in the film aren’t that great, but I do think some of them are better than you suggest. They’re not completely mindless (like the squishy example) and lacking in talent or execution. There is a cleverness and comedic ability in the execution of the humor, imo.
Also, the humor and drama in the film’s actually are multi-tiered in the sense that they’re going to appeal to different age-groups. You mentioned that earlier—and you also made disparaging comments about the humor geared towards adults. I think those criticisms are sometimes true, but sometimes not, too.
My bigger problem with Pixar, for what it’s worth, is that they often don’t have great stories. They have great animation or good-to-great ideas about characters or situations. But it’s as if these ideas come first and then they try to construct a story around these ideas.
When it comes to a movie that I feel is primarily a comedy, yes I do think it should function that way.
I can’t think of another, primarily comedic, movie I enjoy that I got all my laughs out of on the initial viewing.
I did mention earlier that there are lines that adults will laugh at while children will not, but to me they’re all one note. Also, as I said, that one note does not resonate with me.
Yeah, I’ve also never been impressed with the stories themselves, and often they spend the entire duration to end on what you can tell they think was a profound idea (Ugh, Toy Story 3) that would actually have been told in one act (or less) in a better constructed movie. I’m thoroughly unimpressed with Pixar movies most of the time.
Talking down to you?
That sounds like a pinku I would watch only to observe some interesting cinematography.
The kind of thing where a 50 to 65 minute runtime is a large selling point.
a few cute moments with the three bears (the only characters of any interest) and a few exciting moments but nothing else
the mom praises a tradition that seems to have made her miserable. She has no chemistry with the king which explains why the king does not notice she is missing for at least 24 hours.
the problem is never really solved (the redhead will end up marrying one of those clowns)
and the protag is really kind of a bitch. She is spoiled in the begining, barely reacts when her mom appears to be dying for eating the cookie then takes forever to care for her depressing plight as a bear.
Yeah, this part was a bit confusing and fit glossed over. What was the solution, again? If I remember correctly, Merida and suitors, by courting(?), will determine who will be married—as opposed to Merida choosing on her own. What if she doesn’t fall in love with any of them—or if the suitor doesn’t fall in love with her—then what? The solution doesn’t seem that much different from the traditional approach. The hope is that Merida and one of the suitors will, by mutual consent, agree to marry each other—presumably because they are in love. Or am not remembering this correctly?
I was kinda of annoyed at her for these things, but I took it as somewhat typical teenage behavior.