Re Jimmy Carter of Mars

by Mark Steyn

…or whatever it’s called: Michael’s right. It is kind of amazing that a Saturday-morning serial can lose a fifth of a billion dollars. Yes, yes, I know that’s what the diseased government of the United States borrows every hour of every day, but, for anyone not in “public service,” it’s still a helluva sum.

But I disagree somewhat with Michael here:

Who would ever green-light such an absurd amount of money for a project whose original fans were driving Model T’s and listening to the organ while watching the latest moving picture from the Lumiere brothers?

Yeah, but what else you got? Sherlock Holmes? Narnia? Middle Earth? Hollywood’s business model is to take a story that cost two shillings and thruppence-ha’penny and spend a fifth of a billion making it lousier. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it doesn’t, but either way the industry’s living off Model T fumes. Hollywood could use its own Edgar Rice Burroughs, but instead it’s a business full of guys who can’t even adapt Edgar Rice Burroughs for less than 300 mil — and then blow it. (Broadway has the same problem, but with a couple of zeroes lopped off the bottom line.)

Oh, and note the relatively positive nature of John Carter’s reviews: People who spend their working week immersed in Hollywood’s present sensibility couldn’t see there was no there there. This critic gets close to it:

Just about every sci-fi/fantasy/superhero adventure you ever loved is in here somewhere.

And he means it as a compliment: Why, here’s a film like all the other films! What’s not to like? He’s got a point: These days, whatever the source material, movies are mostly about other movies. And not even old movies, like Spielberg when he did the Indiana Jones stuff, but movies that you saw last week. You’d almost get the impression that that’s all these fellows know. So all you see is the formula, which the critics dignify as allusion and hommage rather than a shrinking myopia as constricting as the most convention-bound kabuki.

By the way, is John Podhoretz right — they’re remaking the 2002 Spider-Man?

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