Saturday, July 2, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Princess of Mars (2009)

Watched:  07/01/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2000s
Director:  Don't care

In it's way, Edgar Rice Burrough's novel A Princess of Mars is maybe the most important book of the 20th Century that you've never read.  Published in 1912 as a serialized adventure, it laid the groundwork for 20th and 21st Century science fiction and fantasy of a certain swashbuckling flavor.  You do not get to Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, Dune or Star Wars without the book.

It's had two adaptations that I know of - this one by SyFy Channel's unholy love child, The Asylum, and then the billion dollar dud from Disney, which I quite like as it's own thing.  

This movie had two things going for it:  
1)  A book beloved by 12 year olds that should have been a slam dunk to adapt, even for The Asylum
2)  Traci Lords

I am here to report that Traci Lords is a force even (especially?) when she's standing in the middle of a smoking crater of where a film was supposed to be.  All told, if you came to see Traci Lords, there's not really enough, but is there ever enough Traci Lords?

The movie was... bad.  Absolutely handicapped not just by a slim budget but by what they chose to excise from the book, what they added in, and then 79 minutes of the 90 minute run time all telling and zero showing.  Which is a really fucking dumb way to use your money when it comes to retelling A Princess of Mars.  

Not actually a set pic.  This is just Traci Lords on a Thursday.

I will give the movie credit for the Thark masks.  I mean, that's like 1/7th of the human body, and it would be nice to see the Tharks also have four arms, be 8 feet tall, etc... but this is not that movie.  So I'll take the functional masks and goofy costume-shop vaguely Bronze Age armor they're outfitted in.  It's... fine.

If you're concerned Lords is under-dressed here, this is exactly how the characters are described in the novel as painted by famed fantasy artist Joe Jusko.  

by there standards, they look like the Amish

The CGI is bad by 2001 standards, so tip of the hat to this being a 2009 film.  And, of course, never figuring out how to do anything like 4 armed apes, 8 legged dogs or any of the interesting shit from the book is a choice.  They ALSO can't figure out how to do John Carter's jumps - which is kind of the bread and butter of the book, and maybe something they should have run some tests on before embarking on the film.  

Look, I don't want to bag on Antonio Sabato Jr., but he went full MAGA, so fuck that guy.  He's terrible in this movie in a way that the script and common sense don't dictate.  Like, "hey, all of you are wrong about your planet" is a really weird way to deliver every line in the movie.  Especially the ones on Earth before he leaves.  But here we are.  He's not kidding like Adam West or something - he just has one line delivery mode and he sticks to it well beyond the point of reason.  

There's zero chemistry between Sabato and Lords, but he doesn't seem to notice or care that she's there.  I kinda hope Traci Lords hated him.

No, you're the one wearing an altered Slave Leia outfit and boots from Hot Topic (she makes it work, tho)

Anyway, this movie was dumb and mostly bad, and if you're going to check out Edgar Rice Burrough's work, just read the book.  I can walk you through the Disney adaptation some other time.  

One more Traci Lords for good measure.

Lords ponders smacking the screenwriter really good, just one time

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