Director: Andrew Stanton
Writer: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch
Thomas Haden Church
Release Date: Out Now
John Carter opened in cinemas a few days a go, and with Andrew Stanton at the helm (WALL-E and Finding Nemo), you will go into the cinema expecting the best.Now it is Stanton's first time working on a live action movie, so I guess I'll cut him some slack (considering the size of the project), but unfortunately there are so many things going against him right from the start. The marketing campaign has been pretty poor, apparently the budget was immense (rumours in the $300 million area) and the film stars a relatively unknown/untested leading man in Taylor Kitsch. Basically, the future never really looked bright for this film, which is being reflected pretty massively by the Box-Office sales.
The tale of John Carter I guess would come under Sci-Fi, It's the story of an American Civil War veteran who finds himself mysteriously transported to Mars. Unfortunately we have already seen this in films like Avatar and Star Wars, which leaves the film's story in the awkward position of coming across as a rehash of something else, when in reality it was around long before afore mentioned stories.
There is no doubt that the film itself is a pretty spectacular film visually, both the impressive landscape and its imposing inhabitants setting the tone for the film perfectly. Again though, Hollywood manages to cheapen the impressive details by transferring it to 3D at the last minute. I have seen 2-3 films use the 3D technology correctly, and after that it's just dreadful, so I think it's time film producers let it lie now, because it ruins the cinema experience. Kitsch does a pretty good job as the eponymous soldier (grieving over the death of his wife), who turns hero after he's teleported to Mars (Barsoom, to its residents FYI...) and falls for the beautiful princess Dejah Thoris (Collins).
The writers manage to utilise all of the movie's 131 minutes, by cramming everything they can in their tale of Martian feuds, romance and earthbound action. The film occasionally sinks as it tries to figure out its dense plot, and bringing the action back to earth with Edgar Rice Burroughs (Sabara) acting as messenger for Carter's story feels like a character addition too many in an already packed-ensemble cast.
Saying that, when John Crater picks up the pace, it is a pretty impressive and entertaining blockbuster that is jam-packed with action. It's exciting with its white ape arena fight and in a sequence that cross-cuts between a sword-wielding Carter battling for his life and a flashback to him burying his wife, you have the emotion as well as the action mixed perfectly.
With appearances from Dominic West, Mark Strong and Ciaran Hinds the film has many brilliant actors to add to mix, that all manage to fit in the story with ease and thanks to the impressive CGI the film overall is a surprisingly good watch. Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton also get their chances to deliver emotive performances as warrior Tars Tarkas and his daughter Sola.
John Carter may not be racking up the box office billions to make a sequel a definite, but on this occasion I would actually be intrigued as to where a sequel would take the story next.
John Carter - Trailer