Movie Review: John Carter
By Felix Quinonez Jr.
March 15, 2012
A long time ago in a not so distant galaxy, Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced the world to a character, John Carter, who would shape Sci-Fi and fantasy tales for generations to come. His influence can be seen in anything from Star Wars to Avatar. One hundred years later, John Carter is finally getting the film treatment, unless you count the 2009 film starring Antonio Sabato Jr. - and you shouldn’t. John Carter, directed by Andrew Stanton, (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) is good old-fashioned pulp entertainment that will leave you breathless - if you let it.
Unfortunately, that is a very big if because a lot of people have long ago written off John Carter. There’s a stench of bad buzz that has been hanging over this movie way before anyone actually saw it. People have just been dying to come up with reasons to hate it. It seems that you hear more about the huge budget than the movie itself. And at $250 million - some say higher – the budget is huge but it’s hardly the most expensive movie ever. People have also been trying to make a big deal out the fact that the movie’s title was altered. It’s as if to say that changing the movie’s name from John Carter of Mars to simply John Carter is some sort of proof that the movie is terrible. Unfortunately, not even the movie’s biggest supporter - which might actually be me - could defend John Carter’s atrocious marketing.
But now that we’ve dealt with the 500 pound Thark in the room, let’s talk about the movie. I won’t even bother trying to get into all of the plot points because it’s so convoluted that it’s almost impossible to understand - or even care about - everything that is going on in this film. So let’s stick to what you do need to know. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a world weary Civil War vet, on the Confederate side, in search of some gold only he believes exists. In fact most people think he is crazy and that includes the colonel (Bryan Cranston) trying to convince Carter to fight for him. But soon our hero comes into the possession of a magic medallion that transports him to Mars (called Barsoom by its natives). There he takes up with some Tharks - huge, green, four armed creatures. Carter finds something worth fighting for and of course gets the girl.
There is a lot to like about John Carter. It’s just too bad that at times those things get buried underneath a sea of bland CGI. That’s not too say that the movie is nearly as effects crazy as a lot of people would have you believe. This isn’t Transformers - which was more of an excuse to blow things up than a movie - but at times John Carter seems to be burdened by its budget. It seems like they had to justify the money spent by loading it with inconsequential special effects. But even so, there are a few CGI heavy scenes that resonate on an emotional level and provide a genuine sense of danger.