“John Carter of Earth? John Carter of Mars: that sounds better.”
Lots has been said about how much money Disney sunk into their big budget John Carter and about how poorly its been doing in the theaters. So the question is, does it deserve its floppy reputation? My answer; not really, no. Its nothing that is going to blow your mind (perhaps 10 years ago it would have), but its still a fun and enjoyable watch.
The movie is based off of a very old book written by the same guy (Burroughs) who wrote the Tarzan books. Now, I haven’t read any of them, but from what I know they’ve stuck to the same basic idea. John Carter is a civil war vet in the 1800’s who accidentally stumbles upon a pathway to Mars. Once there, he finds out he has super powers. Its kind of neat realizing this was written at the start of the 20th century and putting the pieces together of where the influence for major pop culture phenomena like Superman and Star Wars must have originated.
I think I’m going to do a basic strengths and weaknesses format for this reviews. Okay, here’s the strengths:
– The story was not nearly as simplistic as I expected it to be. There’s enough going on here to really make it just complex enough to hold interest throughout. The Therns in particular were an interesting aspect.
– Taylor Kitch was really great as the lead role of John Carter. He wasn’t just some regular Joe thrown into the action. He had a unique personality and was very likable.
– The ending was great. It was different than the usual, it was clever, and it tied in with the beginning really nicely creating a cool bookend effect.
– Despite the stronger than expected story, there were still some really juvenile antics. Likely these were thrown in for the child audiences. The martian dog, though cute, was an example. So was the “stop the wedding at the last minute” thing. They were small moments of cheese, but they were peppered throughout.
– While the action of Kitch as Carter was strong, the acting of Lynn Collins as the martian princess was not nearly as strong.
– And last but not least, the special effects. Yes, the effects which were meant to be the highlight of the film. CGI works best when it blends in and the audience forgets they’re watching CGI. I never forgot with John Carter. I was always aware that I was essentially watching cartoon characters acting alongside real actors.
The Tharks were especially bad. They felt much less like the Navi from Avatar and more like the Gungans from Phantom Menace. They just didn’t blend in and look authentic. Especially when we see the baby Tharks hatch near the beginning. It looked very fabricated.
So, disappointing effects.
Overall, this was an enjoyable film. I don’t think it deserved the bust at the box office that it received, but likely there were many other factors at play other than the quality of the film itself. It was better than I expected. Its nothing mind-blowing or exceedingly special, but the movies strengths did outweigh its weaknesses for me.
Oh, and once again I had no choice but to watch in 3D. And once again, the 3D was pointless. Please let this fad end.