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Not Too Big to Fail

John Carter stinks up the screen in a huge way


John Carter is the worst movie ever made. Ever. Please understand what I'm saying: EH-VERR.

It is not the stupidest film, though it insults anyone with an IQ higher than a soap dish. It is not the most-boring film, though I can tell you that I sat completely alone among 200 empty seats in a Boise cineplex one recent Friday evening. And John Carter is not the most pornographic film, though I desperately yearned for a shower thereafter (and I can still vividly recall its rancidity). No, John Carter is everything a movie shouldn't be: excessive, exploitive and expensive.

I'm seriously considering taking the Walt Disney Company to small claims court over the price of admission.

It's estimated that John Carter cost the Disney studio north of $350 million to make and market. According to industry analysts, when folks from the Mouse House saw some early footage of the film, they thought it was so bad that they threw even more money at the project--and kept repeating the process until what they had was one of the most expensive pieces of shit ever captured on celluloid. Lehman Brothers, you have nothing on John Carter.

The inane practice wasn't precedent-setting. Julie Salamon documented how the iconic flop Bonfire of the Vanities burned millions in her book, The Devil's Candy.

The New York Times estimated that Disney might eventually need to write-off as much as $165 million in losses. That's real money, even in Hollywood.

Recapping John Carter's plotline is hardly worth the paper this review is printed on, but here goes: John Carter is a Civil War veteran who is magically transported to Mars, where he does battle with tusked monsters--all to win the love of a princess who is not much more than heavy eyeliner and cleavage. There, I just saved you $9. You're welcome.

What truly makes John Carter the worst of the worst is its absolute callousness for its audience and industry. The film has always been on a fast-track to development hell, beginning with its director Andrew Stanton. Though he has had success with animation (Wall-E), he had never previously stood behind the lens of a live-action feature. I may be wrong, but Stanton may have a future managing the overflow lines at Disneyland's Magic Mountain.

Ultimately, it is John Carter's gluttony that is so nauseating. This kind of budget could bankroll dozens of independent films that have character, style and entertainment.

Years from now--let's say a decade or two--during some trivia contest, they'll begin comparing the bad to the very worst. When they get to the bottom of the heap, the conversation will undoubtedly turn to John Carter, the worst movie ever made.