Friday, March 9, 2012

John Carter ...of March

    It's Disney. It's got a lot of hype surrounding it. It's the first big movie of the fast approaching summer season. John Carter sounds like a recipe for success, but like Prince Of Persia, I can't help but feel it falls just short. Let's face it, there are a lot of impressive things heading our way. Superheroes, Pixar films, and that Battleship flick. It's only March so it's hard to be too hard on this movie, but there is probably a reason it's not being released in the summer.

  I have never read the classic literature and therefore am not swayed by the whole book to movie thing. I did enjoy the nod to Burroughs. When we meet John Carter he is an ex cavalry man looking for gold and overwhelmed with grief over the loss of his family. He battles some Apache, finds a cave, kills an alien, and ends up on Mars. He quickly discovers that he is much stronger and can leap great distances Ala the Hulk. His first alien encounter comes from a tribe of multi-armed green barbarians called, "Tharks." He is imprisoned even though their king takes a liking to him.

 He quickly saves the Princess of Mars (Lynn Collins) and becomes involved in the conflict between the two waring nations of Barsoon (Mars.) The princess promises to show him the way back to earth if he helps her keep her city from being conquered. The opposing race was given an alien power from a race of creatures called, "Therns." This immortal race has chosen Sab Than (Dominic West) to rule Mars and has fueled the conflict. Carter soon falls in love with the princess, wins over the Tharks, and liberates Mars. Confused? It is actually a fairly simple story of good versus evil, but I don't know if it lives up to 2012 standards.

 What worked? I liked Lynn Collins as the Princess of Mars. She was the right balance of tough and sexy. The film is fantastic visually. The aliens and the planet look great. The world that was created is on par with films like Star Wars and Avatar. It is obvious that the story influenced Lucas and Cameron. The ships and concepts burst off the screen. The 3D is adequate and the action is decent. The arena fight was fun to watch, but I kept imagining "Attack Of The Clones," and felt like Lucas pulled that battle right from the pages. The problem is people will see it the other way since the Star Wars exposure came first.
 What didn't work? The villains. Dominic West didn't come across as threatening enough. I like villains that scare me. Stephen Lang should have tried this instead of Conan. A good villain can carry a story and this is one of the biggest areas that John Carter lacks. Mark Strong does what he can and while I think his portrayal of Sinestro was the bright spot of Green Lantern, it is not the case here. The bad guy aliens are not nearly menacing enough either. Pacing is also bad. The love story happens too quickly and the overall story is confusing. This is obviously shot with kids in mind, but the two hour and nineteen minute time is too much to keep their attention. I found myself updating Facebook a lot. I am not sure that Taylor Kitsch works. I think that he tries, but he is not the leading man type. I think this movie would've worked much better with a stronger lead. Someone who is more of a household name. 
I think that a work of classic fiction can be a tough sell. In a summer where we are all excited about the next Batman, Spider-man, and G.I. Joe, I think John Carter falls a little short of the mark. I wasn't bored and I didn't hate it, but I am OK if their isn't a sequel. I will be just fine staying on earth.

1 comment:

  1. I think that is a fair assessment of the whole movie. I can't say I disagree with anything. Although on the female perspective I did enjoy watching Taylor Kitsch as man candy lol. He did his part there. With that being said I didn't go into this movie expecting anything great. I took my son who wanted to see it and we got what we expected from it.