Wow! As a simple moviegoer with far less insight into the business world behind it as some of our active posters here, this thread has been fascinating, entertaining, and educational for me. My personal opinions fit somewhere in the middle on the issue of John Carter itself.
I had never heard of the character or book before, and didn't know that it invented many of the base characteristics of science fiction, and was the inspiration for many of the genre's more famous authors. I love most things Disney, but the marketing for JC left me feeling lackluster about it. But when all the negative press kicked in I did feel a certain unfairness was present. For that as much as anything else I decided to go see the movie a few weeks ago.
It was actually pretty darn good, and an entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. I tend to like movies that are entertaining and not too heavy, but that have well-developed characters and a good moral story (not preachy, but that reward things like honesty, hard work, etc.--the classic Disney formula). John Carter fit the bill. Neat effects, a nice combination of action and romance, and a story that kept moving the whole time so that I never got bored.
Now here's where I'm going to polarize those of you masochistic enough to have this thread this far. The other movie that comes to mind that I enjoyed similarly but that got similarly lambasted by the critics and audiences (for the most part) was Pearl Harbor. I actually really liked the special effects, the combination of action and romance, and the story that culminated with the good guys winning against all odds.
It does bother me that the movie-going public seems to blindly attend every Transformers, Hangover, superhero-of-the-day movie and reward that mindless entertainment mindset in Hollywood. That's why I love it when a movie (Avatar, Pirates of the Caribbean, etc.) gives far more than that and is then rewarded with huge box-office take.
I'll share more thoughts later. For now, dinner is ready!