John Carter of Earth-Two?

In an alternate dimension, where we’re a less cynical culture and hollow crap like Avatar and The Lorax tank at the box office, John Carter would be lauded for what it is: an unapologetic, old-fashioned swashbuckling adventure for all ages. We caught it on IMAX this morning, and while the 3D isn’t noteworthy (it never is), it looked great on the big screen and all four of us gave it an enthusiastic thumbs-up.

To the naysayers who say it rips off [insert your favorite sci-fi franchise], check the history books. From Superman to Star Wars to Avatar, all your tropes are belong to Burroughs!

To the purists who are bemoaning the changes to the story, I’d strongly recommend rereading Burrough’s originals—I just read them for the first time last month—because as fun as they are and as well as they hold up, they’re neither the most plausible nor deepest stories ever written. Halfway through the movie, as I was thinking about the various tweaks that had been made, I realized how much action and information Burroughs packed into that first novel (and how much he left unexplained), and there’s no way any movie could have done it justice; it would need the Game of Thrones-style treatment from an HBO.

Instead, Andrew Stanton and company retained the underlying spirit of the stories and delivered an entertaining adaptation that fully respects its source material, and more importantly, its own audience. It’s a shame Disney never quite found its footing with the marketing, but I’m hoping word of mouth and a less cynical foreign audience will give it strong enough legs to guarantee a sequel, because I want more.

UPDATE: Domestic box office is estimated at a disappointing $30m, but foreign take is more than double at $70m.

Americans, ur doin it rong.

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