MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Andrew Stanton
Film Pulse Score: 5/10
Based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs book that was published more than 100 years ago, the adventures of John Carter have influenced nearly every popular science fiction property we know today from Battlestar to Star Wars. But how does this classic tale stand up to the Disney treatment? Has this film resurrected a nearly forgotten gem, or help perpetuate it’s downfall?
Disney’s John Carter (which, now that I write that, it seems a little odd to think of it as a Disney movie) is an epic tale about a man who is transported, for reasons unknown, to Mars, where he has super-human strength as an Earthling. John’s a Rambo-like warrior, who’s easy to root for after you give him a chance.
My first reaction to seeing the trailer wasn’t inspiring, and I really only went to see this film because I was bored. Yet, seeing this big-budget flick in IMAX 3D wasn’t all that bad. It had a dose of silliness, in the form of a slobbering dog-like creature that attaches itself to John, a few plot holes, and it never really explained why the human-like Martians spoke perfect English. (They went through the effort of explaining how John was able understand the four-armed green species but failed to do the same with the other Martians.) But overall, I was able to let myself go in the sci-fi movie, with an appreciation of its “movie-ness.”
The visual effects in John Carter were pretty stunning, rarely casting doubt over their realism, with several original creative concepts to boot. One particularly fantastic sequence involved skillful cross-editing of a scene from John Carter’s past life, and a brutal battlefield brawl.
Carter, played by the Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) was well cast, but the movie fell short in areas where critics are likely to attack. The script wasn’t as profound as, say, Avatar (which had several similar plot lines), nor as lacking Prince of Persia, but fell somewhere in the middle, not as terrible as I predicted.
While the movie had it’s occasional clever moments and grandiose action set pieces, it doesn’t rank much higher than mediocre. You might not go see this movie with your buddies on a Friday night, but it’s worth taking a date to, or renting it out of one of those movie vending machines on a rainy Sunday.