Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: John Carter (2012)

“Good God...I'm on Mars.”

Director: Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon
Stars: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins and Willem Dafoe

If Superman crash landed on Earth and gained all these awesome powers, then surely there is some planet out there that I human can go to and get awesome powers as well. According to the movie John Carter all we needed to do was to get our ass to Mars. Or should I say the book John Carter of Mars. Don’t want to upset any die hard fans out there. So you can probably tell I’m not familiar with the source material, with that in mind how does the movie stack up?

Really well. Maybe going in with zero expectations was a good idea as I had a blast with this movie. Sure it’s not the most original movie in the world, but I was laughing and enjoying the action set pieces. It’s a shame that the movie does come of slightly clichéd, but this is only because everyone pretty much ripped off the books before it could be adapted, or ripped off the rip offs. Yet for all the cliché’s it manages to deal with everything in a competent and entertaining manner.

Subtlety is one of the keys to this movie, and at first it may not seem like it is. But it’s the glances, the specific shots on key items, and not inundating the audience with information overload if it can be avoided. Sure there is info dump in regards to how John Carter gets his power, and how things work, but I don’t think it goes over board. In regards to some of the more scientific ideas, the movie is rather soft and this might dissuade some audience members, but then again if you can believe in half the stuff movies have these days, I’m not sure why this would be that big a stumbling block.

Actors all do decent work and at least manage to make an impression even if some of the scripting is a little off. Taylor Kitsch puts in a performance that made me think of Timothy Olyphant. Kitsch really plays up the tragic past of John Carter, and instead of being a standard cliché characteristic, it really is the driving force behind Carter. Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris is probably the highlight of the movie. As the princess of Mars she is a strong female character that doesn’t fall into the trap of being ice cold. She is intelligent, strong, caring, beautiful, basically everything you could hope in a character to be admired. Villains are a little weak, but there is a feeling that this is only the beginning, that if there is another movie, more of the villains will be explained.

I didn’t get to see this movie in 3D but I think this movie works without the 3D. The visual landscape of mars is barren, yet there are some shots that are just beautiful. And most the time when I saw John Carter bouncing about the place I believed it was him. There are a few scenes that were a little off, but I could deal with it. Andrew Stanton has a good directorial sense and tries to give information in movie exposition and visual cues, and I was more than impressed some times.

Probably the weakest element of the movie is the script but even then there a far more hits than misses. Pacing is a little weird, but I wasn’t bored once, and from how the audience was reacting I wasn’t the only one. Maybe with a tighter script we could have gotten a movie that wasn’t just fun and really entertaining, but really meant something.

This is one of the most entertaining movies I’ve seen this year and I think sometimes people forget that a fun movie is just as good as a thoughtful movie. People won’t learn anything new, but I’m pretty sure there will be laughter and cheers. If you want a movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously and is fun then get your ass to Mars. 

(Woo same Total Recall reference twice in the review, I rock.)


  1. Good review. Kitsch could have definitely been a little bit more charismatic but the flick still works due to amazing special effects and some really fun and exciting action. Sad thing is that this flick was made for $250 million and won’t make any of it back. Not a must-see by any means but still a good one to check out for the fun of it. Check out my review when you get the chance.

  2. I thought it was awesome. Perfect throwback to the Golden Age of science fiction. The most entertaining and fun film I've seen all year.