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John Carter


John Carter

What can I say about John Carter that hasn’t already been said? The backlash was quick and incredibly fierce for this famous flop. I too felt underwhelmed and unimpressed by this fantasy adventure. First impressions are the most important, and John Carter fails miserably to grab your attention. However, beyond that, this Disney failure may not be so deserving of the disparaging moniker.

Grade:

C-

A Civil War vet, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), is transported to Mars, or Barsoom as it’s called, where he is thrust in the middle of a never-ending war between three cities/tribes: the Tharks, Helium, and Fandango…wait, no…Zandango? Zodango? Something like that. Anyway, Sab Than (Dominic West) is given the power of the Ninth Ray by… You know what, the names are fantastical; I’m going with the actors. So Mark Strong gives West the power and manipulates him to destroy the planet by marrying Lynn Collins. Spoiler: the reason this marriage destroys the planet is never explained properly.

From the first scene, John Carter simply cannot grasp your attention. The story clearly involves an immense amount of information that cannot be explained in such a brief time frame (exhibit A: my synopsis). This is never a good thing when trying to introduce an alternate reality/planet and new life forms, as well as a war involving these new species. Needless to say, it is evident why the film had no chance on a mass scale; the general public is never going to accept a movie that takes way too long to begin entertaining.

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As you can imagine, everything before Kitsch is sent to Mars is irrelevant. Upon arrival, your interest has waned and either you’ve resigned yourself to toughing it out (like me), or given up completely. If you stick around, you’ll get what you paid for, to be quite frank. Expecting a wondrous display of fantasy and effects with a deep storyline and intelligent acting was always an overly ambitious dream for John Carter. Realistically, the best you could have hoped for, regardless of the story, was something resembling Star Trek, except a little more primitive, and this is what you get. The effects are actually pretty good, excluding the ridiculous jumping done by Carter, and none of the characters are bad enough to really dislike.

When you temper your expectations, John Carter becomes entirely tolerable. I admit, there are still many, many…many details you have to overlook, but this happens all the time. While most people consider John Carter a disaster for its monstrous budget and lame output, I am inclined to consider it simply a misfire. Some movies are made with deadly precision and cutting realism. Others, like John Carter, merely cause flesh wounds by whetting your appetite.

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I’d be lying if I were to say John Carter is worth a second viewing, unfortunately. It’s a mere two hours, but drags on much longer than it should. Yet, I am curious to know more. As an adaptation meant to spearhead a franchise, I believe one of its main purposes was to spark the interest of those of us who had no knowledge of the books before the film. For me, this goal was met. I hope Kitsch’s career can recover; Strong plays a non-villain one day; and West goes back to Baltimore to take down thugs. Don’t discredit the film before you even give it a try. You’re more likely to be apathetic than impressed or disappointed though.

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    • Huard, David
    • December 14th, 2012

    I guess Kate Beckensale was not in this one !!!

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  1. I think everyone felt that this should have had potential to be a great movie but it ultimately felt like a different movie than what was advertised. It definitely isn’t the worst of the year but easily one of the most disappointing. Your write up summarizes most of of the reasons I didn’t care for John Carter either. Nice job!

    • Thanks! I can definitely understand the disappointment. I think I was just expecting Green Lantern-esque quality from what everyone was saying and that wasn’t the case. If Spiderman is any indication, someone will try again in 5 years anyway!

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