Director: Andrew Stanton
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe
Running time: 132 minutes
Age Rating: 12A
UK release date: March 7th 2012
I really can't help but enjoy John Carter. I have a complaints list as long as my arm, yet something about this film just makes me smile.
This is the part where I write a quick plot overview to get you interested in the film and give a bit of context for what i'll write later. But it's a bit difficult this time, because John Carter is mad. Its based off a series of books written way back in 1917. What happens is... Well... A soldier from the American civil war is transported to mars where he meets a princess and then fights in a timeless war against other people on mars. Yeah. I'll admit that I skimmed quite a few details, but this film's plot goes beyond confusing. It's not that the plot itself is bad, its that everything has a weird 'alien' name that are never explained. For example they live on Barsoom where the Tharks, Therns, Zodanga people and Helium citizens are all in some sort of conflict with each other. Also Carter somehow has super powers on mars because of the different gravity and something about bone density. Well, that's what I think because the film never stops to explain this, a problem this film seems to be full of.
On a technical level, John Carter is a pretty good looking film (which is good considering the $250 million budget). Mars looks vast and the aliens are visually distinctive. Mars and Earth contrast each other thanks to different colour filters, with mars being a hot red and earth cool blue. This makes each environment feel distinct and interesting and its especially effective in a scene where they would be cutting between the two rapidly. I must admit that the alien race, the Tharks, were really interesting. Led by Tars Tarkas (played by the wonderful Willem Dafoe), its actually quite interesting to see their tribal like traditions in a sci-fi scenario.
The action in this film is ridiculous. John Carter has the ability to jump really high (because he does) which means action scenes will involve he leaping around the environment having sword battles. Its not serious in any way, but its quite amusing to see large scale action scenes play out and John Carter leaping about doing cheesy action guy stuff. Don't expect a deep and meaningful piece of art when going to see John Carter, just bring some popcorn and don't really think about it. You'll have a much better time.
Now onto the bad stuff. The film never even attempts to explain stuff and that really detracts from the overall experience. A film can sometimes over explain stuff, but John Carter never even tries. Which is made even more confusing considering how long the film is, as there is huge gaps in the film where absolutely nothing interesting happens. I feel that the film could be cut down and be much more interesting and have much less wasted time in it.
John Cater is a mess. It was over budgeted, a financial flop and was questionable in quality. Yet I do not regret seeing it. It’s not intellectual and the world won’t end if you don't see it, but I'd still recommend John Carter. Sometimes a big dumb action film is just what you need.
"Did I not tell you he could jump!"