Director Andrew Stanton helps put Pixar on the map in the mid-nineties. He has made a couple of successful animated Disney films about a love story between two robots and a father who goes through the entire Pacific Ocean to find his young clownfish. You may have heard of them. For his first live-action feature, he has taken a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs and churned a $250 million epic fail. John Carter, an adaptation of the 1917 novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, A Princess of Mars, should have stay lying dead on the red planet.
In New York 1884, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) has just summoned his nephew Edgar Rich Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) to meet with him at once. By the time the young Edgar arrived on the scene, Carter had died. Upon his death, John had left Edgar all of his estate including a private journal that no one read or had access to until young Edgar inherited. Mind you, this is just preface of our tale.
As Edgar read through the diary, Carter’s story began in 1868 along the Arizona Territory. A former Confederate soldier, he gives up the fight to pursue his cave of gold. One day, he found a mysterious man suddenly appears in the cave, later to be known as a Therns and took his medallion, wondering if it will leads to riches. Suddenly, Carter finds himself whisked away to the Red Planet or what the local call Barsoom. Soon, our John finds himself in a battle between warring factions of Barsoom. Will John finally have something to fight for once more or will he continue to find riches in another world?
Although, I never read the original novel but I know overpriced, underdeveloped and kitschy movie from a mile away. The pros of the film were the digital effects. I truly like how they could take a remote place somewhere in Utah and create such an alien world. I heard that some of the techniques the filmmakers used in Avatar and Rango were used for Carter. The motion-capturing filmmaking technique really captures the emotions and actions of the actors who played the aliens in the movie. You have your method acting at its best. Finally, I have to give major props to composer Michael Giacchino for the score. If you do go to see the movie for any reason, just listen to the music he made. It’s fantastic.
The cons of Carter were everything else in this mess. You have a plot that was so tangled that you could not tell who the bad guy was at first. It was difficult to keep track of the alien tribes, their names, the mission and the terms. Now, I wished I didn’t throw away my Trapper Keeper.
This leads us to the acting. First off, Taylor Kitsch made have score in NBC’s Friday Night Lights but he could not lead the team in John Carter. From the first time, he said “Carter, John Carter”. My initial thought was that he was signing up to be the next bad Batman. His performance as Carter was as bland as you can get. Kitsch could not take us on a epic journey when Carter was taking on a squad of Martian heavies. Trust me when I say if you want to find heroics, this John Carter does not make the cut-literally.
Lynn Collins plays the eye candy of the movie, Dejah, a budding scientist and princess to be. Although she possessed some Xena-like qualities, Collins is like Megan Fox to Transformers – she is there to look good. However, her biggest crime was her accent. I understand that most of the cast are British born but why did you have to ruin your performance by butchering the dialect. The only saving grace was Willem Dafore and Samantha Morton, albeit they were playing digital aliens but at least it was safe to watch.
In a world where we get a 3D movie every month of the year, Carter would have been easier on the eyes, my own included, as a normal 2D film. I say it once again, 3D films should be for animated films only…period. As I sat through the over two hour mindless dribble, I kept asking the same question in my head, “Where’s the 3-D?” I could not find one scene that was eye-catching enough to make me go “Whoa!”
Watching John Carter is like playing a game of tug of war; you want your team to win but you had a sneaking suspicion that the opponent will pull an upset. Carter pulled an amazingly bad upset in 132 minutes. If you want a good John Carter; go read the original 1917 novel that inspired future sci-fi writers. If you want a heroic & thinking man’s John Carter, head over to http://www.starshipfarragut.com and tell them Dean sent you. I did say my John Carter can beat up this John Carter after all. Case closed!
FINAL GRADE: C-