We both liked it a lot.
This movie has a lot to love. Epic grandeur in the scenery. Planetary romance. Four-armed tharks and giant white apes. Weirdo magical quasi-steampunk technology. The awesome scenery, especially the CGI ruins. Entertaining story. Awesome costumes. The world's weirdest dog, ever. Action. Lots of action. And mostly, its flavor.
I had some quibbles. The framing tales added marginally at best to my experience of the film. A few scenes seemed lifted straight out of the Star Wars cycle, with some Mars paint splashed over them. (There was a fair amount of Aresian-tinted Ben Hur in there as well, but I didn't see that as a problem.) The baby tharks were just silly, especially contrasted with the barbaric dignity of the adults.
Really a heck of a lot of fun. It's been too many years since I've read the source material, so I can't comment on the fidelity to Burroughs in the original Klingon, but the movie didn't ring false to me.
Yet, as I understand things, John Carter is well on its way to being a box office disaster of Biblical proportions. Maybe not Heaven's Gate [ imdb ], but still a real stinker and possible career ender for some of the folks involved. The emerging consensus explanation for this is that the movie was apparently a victim of severe marketing malpractice. The marketing appears to have been conducted under the philosophy that it would somehow be a bad idea to tell viewers that a movie set on Mars was a genre film.
By my count, ten of the twenty top-grossing films of all time are either fantasy or science fiction. A few more of them are arguably on the list. And this is without yet including The Hunger Games [ imdb ], which has set opening records. Fantasy and science fiction dominates non-sports gaming, especially in the online category. It's well-represented on television. The genre is reasonably well represented among best selling books (Harry Potter, cough cough).
So why would a movie studio want to hide the fact that a movie about a guy on Mars fighting along four-armed green skinned aliens was, you know, maybe a wee bit fantastic?
I dunno. It sure as heck worked for me. But millions will sadly be giving this rocking piece of entertainment a miss.