Ian's Movie Reviews
Short Reviews of Movies, Board Games, and Other Stuff

John Carter

“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.

The weaknesses:
– 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.


8 Responses to “John Carter”

  1. Hurm, your review actually has me mildly enthusiastic about this.

  2. Fascinating review! I actually liked the special effects…but then again you actually liked Taylor Kitch who many did not, so props. I believe this show got a really bad rap for what are basically rather minor problems. Cheers!

    • Thanks for the reply. You didn’t think that those baby Tharks looked really Shrek-like at the beginning?

      • Who cares? Everything looks like something at some point. They also looked like baby Tharks too. Let me put it another way…do you look like your father? If yes, answer another question…should you not be taken seriously because there’s already someone else who exists who looks like you, who is older and perhaps more experienced than you? Of course not!
        Anyway I’ve lost track of what we were exactly talking about. hehe! Cheers 🙂

      • The Shrek comment was referring to the fact that the CGI looked cartoony instead of blended in with real-life, like it is supposed to.

      • Have you ever seen a baby born? They look pretty disgusting and pretty fake. I think the CGI looked fake to you because it was something you knew doesn’t exist. Simple as that. and it was exasperated by the fact you could relate it to something cartoonish, doesn’t mean it actually looked fake though. It’s just your perception through the things you related to about it. 🙂

  3. Nice review! I agree – John Carter is not the best sci-fi film ever made, but I thought it was enjoyable and I wish it had done better at the theaters.

  4. as always i never get to the theaters to be able to see movies as i take care of my parents,people need to read the books in order to get what is really going on.I on the other hand had the collection a long time ago i think there are 9 books in the series ,Burroughs who wrote the books was a romantic in the first degree ,he inspired in me a way how to treat woman with a passion and a love ive never known. And he seems very smart in science for a person back in that day and age. If hollywood hasnt scewed everything up like they do for other flixsthis should be a good movie but artistic licenses mess things up in a grand scale,remember its only a movie not real life you have to have a good sence of humor and a tendensy to read books. hollywood already tried to do john carter a while back and it really sucked big eggs f- movie at best ,this film however looks pretty good from the trailers ive seen so when it comes out in itunes i know i will buy it. Give it a chance.

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