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MOVIE REVIEW: JOHN CARTER

John Carter

Director: Andrew Stanton
Screenplay: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon

Cast:

Taylor Kitsch John Carter
Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris
Thomas Haden Church as Tal Hajus
Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas
James Purefoy as Kantos Kahn

TRT: 132 minutes, (PG-13)  for intense sequences of violence and action

Peacock Feathers: 2 1/2 out of 5

By: Marcus Thorpe

Initial Thought:

What do you get when you add all of this up:  Star Wars: The Phantom Menace + Star Trek + Prince Of Persia + Gladiator + Cowboys & Aliens + The Days Of Our Lives.  The answer is John Carter. While there are plenty of elements at play here, there has to come a point where it is just too much.  There are moments with John Carter where it is legit good, legit strong.  And there are even more moments where the action stops and the actors are forced to deal with something that is kind of important, dialogue. 

Plot:

Present day John Carter is at home in Virginia.  He served his country, he lost the only things that he really loved, a wife and a child, and he is ready to grow that beard, and hide out, never to be heard from again.  That is until his regiment comes calling once again, only this time Carter has had enough.  He fights, he resists, and he flees, only to find himself inside a cave lined with gold.  Instead of cashing in, he finds himself in a fight that cashing him out, out of the only planet he has ever known.  He wakes up on an entirely different world, with different rules.  He discovers a few things, one, he can basically jump as high as he wants, and two, he is not alone.  Carter finds himself face to face with these green warriors, armed with guns and swords, and when I say armed they have plenty of them.  Eventually he wins them over, and learns that there are wars happening all around him.  2 factions are battling in the sky, all over a warrior and his desire to marry the princess on the other squad.  Eventually John Carter finds himself right in the middle of the mess, defending the princess, deciding if Mars is really worth fighting for, and if his love for this beauty is enough to get him to stay and forget his trip back to Earth.

Acting:

Taylor Kitsch is not going to win an Oscar, let me be the first to call it!  He gives you his best John Carter and it sounds more like Christian Bale’s Batman voice without the breaks of Bruce Wayne.  He is ripped, his action sequences are solid if not spectacular, but there are moments where he has to put down the shield and sword and he is forced to deal with his scariest enemy, the spoken word.  He is really just one note from start to finish.  There is no depth to this character, there is no wonder to what you are going to get, it is Thor without the hammer, and it’s just not good enough.  Lynn Collins plays the princess, and she is a light to Kitsch’s darkness.  She is very good, and it goes beyond her looks, which by the way ain’t bad!  She also can handle a sword, but unlike her male counterpart, she is not afraid of slowing things down and talking it out.  All the other characters come and go, kick some butt, cast some spells, and they all do a pretty decent job.  As for the Tars Tarkas, the computer generated characters that look like a mix of a huge muscular frog and a walrus; they had to be perfect to give this movie a real chance.  They pull it off for the most part, although at the very start you start to get that Jar Jar Binks syndrome, like, oh no, will this be the downfall of this film?  After some uneven moments to start, they hit their stride and you start to forget that they aren’t real characters after a while.  To tell you the truth, these creatures have so much more depth than the title character, and by so much, it’s a number that would make Jules Verne blush.

Direction & Writing:

If action and flashy shots from start to finish this is your movie.  The action scenes are over the top, the fighting scenes are loud and long, maybe too long, but they are pretty good.  I actually think this movie lends itself to the 3-D, which is something I usually don’t say.  It looks good on camera, there is plenty of depth, even the non-fighting scenes look good in 3-D.  This script is odd; I just don’t think they had a good game plan, they ignored obvious chances to pare it down, and it comes off sloppy and overdone.  Then there is the soap opera part of this, he wants to marry me, I don’t want to marry him, I don’t want you to marry him, but I have to marry him to save my people, ugh.  I know there has to be a love element to this story, there always does, but could it be a little less formulaic?

Overall:

John Carter, touted as the first blockbuster of the year.  Maybe it is because the price-tag to make it was so high that the studios thought they really needed to pump it up to get some return on the investment.  This movie is bloated, REALLY BLOATED.  And if you are going to call yourself John Carter, the thought process should be, John Carter the character better be very good, and very compelling.  He’s not, and the movie suffers because of it.  Maybe if they rerelease it they can go for this: Trek: The Phantom Days of Our Gladiator Lives.


MT

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image Posted by  on 03/09 at 01:10 PM

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