“ Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy - Fantasy / Suitable for 12 years and over / Director: Andrew Stanton / Actors: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, James Purefoy ... / DVD released 2012-07-02 at Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment / Features of the DVD: PAL „
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In many different alternate realities, John Carter would have been Disney's CGI induced planet hopping success story. Current TV to movie hearthrob experiment Taylor Kitsch tops the billing with promises of the charisma that made him a firm favourite on Friday Night Lights; Avatar-like action on another planet looks like it's a hit along with the clever graphics of the aliens; and the plot involves battle between two tribes and a whole lot of plot twists coming our way. Surely this couldn't have been the flop everyone was talking about last year......could it?
It starts off positively enough, at least for the first few minutes. You see, there's more than one story going on here, and it just isn't explained well at the outset. Mars is actually teeming with life, two warring tribes of Red Martians (humans with bad sunburn) and a tribe of Green Martians (aliens with four arms and elongated faces) who are considered the more primal of the tribes. Not so complicated, right?
Wrong!!! This just isn't explained. Instead, we get garbled speech about a Princess and then the similar looking James Purefoy and Dominic West are shot from the side and rear where they look identical and we need to work out who is on which side. Ciaran Hinds apparently plays someone's father, and then there is Mark Strong, who adds unwarranted confusion to the mix by playing a shapeshifting bald headed piercing blue eyed superior being who just wants to mess with the status quo of the Universe.
Please accept my apologies for this confusing paragraph. I wanted you to understand my level of confusion at this first point, that I really didn't know what was going on. When Kitsch comes into things as a 19th Century bluecoat deserter in the Wild West, my wife and I looked at each other with bemusement before returning back to the screen for answers. The opening scenes had sort of explained that there was a man who was dead and his nephew was reading his will and there was something about a crypt, but then when it flicked to Mars we had forgotten about this bit. Returning to this part of the plot threw us even more, and Kitsch's titular hero spends 15 minutes of the film escaping being enlisted. It seems as if this period is spent on making him out to be a maverick with excellent fighting skills, and when he escapes into a cave, touches a mysterious medallion and is transported to Mars to join in the conflict and to try and right the wrongs made by everyone to each other, the ridiculous nature just increases.
I can't help feeling that this could all have been made a lot easier on our brain cells by cutting a lot of the bumph and padding out of the first half an hour or so. Once Carter arrives on Mars and meets with the primals, there's a decent element of comedy and some strong and efficient characterisation. Much as in Avatar, there are some recognisable names playing the alien characters, and while they aren't recognisable to look at, the voices of Willem Defoe and Thomas Haden Church reveal their billing, and it's good acting from them. In fact, the warring factions and tribal rituals of these four armed creatures are the more interesting elements, while the politics of the two warring red tribes just get tiresome.
By the time the excessively long (over 2 hours) film ends, you wonder why you'd bothered. The action is occasionally enjoyable, and the acting does quite well. Kitsch showed in Battleship that a run of the mill action film with a typically unbelievable storyline that is all about the action is his sort of scene, but this sci fi tries to be more subtle and complex than its cast allows. Kitsch doesn't find a comfortable foothold in the film and doesn't have the necessary presence to be able to pull off a role that Sam Worthington does in Avatar or Ray Liotta does in No Escape, the fish out of water with balls of steel character that this requires. Echoes of 'Didn't you used to be Tim Riggins' call out across the TV whenever Kitsch is on (Riggins was his Friday Night Lights character) and this seems to be where his impact is felt the most. I sincerely hope for him that his agent applies him to the better roles more suited to his acting style, as I am definitely a fan of what he is capable of.
This sort of film just goes to show that a famous author, a brand name like Disney and a cast that boasts top names from TV and big screen, US and UK, doesn't guarantee success in revenue. A huge flop at the box office and Disney's worst ever loss just shows that the quality seal is what really counts where its viewers are concerned. That this wasn't really suited to the youngest of audience shouldn't encessarily have driven the complication levels up higher like it did - there was no need to try and make it as deep and meaningful and complex as they did. I do wonder that a simpler intro without delving into detail would have made the difference and given this more of a chance. As it stands though, there's not a chance of that here. It remains a disappointment, and not even some decent acting and special effects can change what is a confusing mess for the most part. Steer well clear.
John Carter is a Disney film which really gives nothing away about the plot of the film by looking at the title of the film! Please note this is a film-only review as we rented the film from Blockbuster so I can't review the DVD extra features as they only send the main film. John Carter is based on a series of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs which were written around 100 years ago. I can't say that I am particularly familiar with the books nor the author but I guess if you had read his book series then you would have an idea of what the film John Carter was about.
The two things that sold this film to me initially were the fact that Disney made it (bound to be good?) and the fact that Taylor Kitsch (yum!) of Friday Night Lights fame was the lead character so there would be a good bit of eye candy if nothing else! Equally we see James Purefoy (Mark Anthony from Rome) and Dominic West (Jimmy McNulty from the Wire) star in this film so it is fairly full of well known actors.
The basic premise of the plot surrounds John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) who is an American Confederate Civil War Captain getting into an altercation in the Arizonian desert between himself and a group of Native Americans. To escape, himself and the Colonel hide in a cave. Inside the cave are lots of mysterious drawings and suddenly inside the cave a Thern appears. John Carter kills the Thern and is mysteriously transported to a very different world with the help of the Thern's medallion. We find out soon after that he is on the planet of Barsoom (essentially Mars!). The film follows the journey of John Carter around this strange planet and trying to get home to Earth. Of course along the way he meets Tharks (green aliens) and people from two Martian cities (Helium and Zodanga) who have been at war for many years.
I felt that the plot was very difficult to get into to start with, not least because we hop about from 18th Century America to Mars quite quickly. I felt I was just beginning to enjoy a bit of a Western Cowboys & Indian's-type of film and then ended up being transported to the Martian desert with Aliens. I actually said to my husband that the film would have been better called "Cowboys and Aliens" rather than John Carter! Anyway, if you want to watch the film because you like the Civil War period, you will basically be very disappointed as the majority of the film is set on Mars.
The main problem I had was following all of the different people and trying to figure out who was fighting who. The people from the cities of Helium and Zodanga had their own problems and the Tharks (green monsters) had their problems and then there were the Therns who caused another set of problems. I also kept getting confused between a Thern and a Thark! I felt that there was too much in the way of new terminology and unusual words to keep tabs on who was who and where they came from. In a way, it had a feeling of Star Wars to it, I felt like we were all on Tatooine (even the 'pet' Thark looked like Jabba the Hut!). By that, I mean that in Star Wars there are many, many planets and people who you learn about, but because you have three or six films to learn about them you can form bonds to the characters whereas in this film I found I didn't really care too much for the Princess of Helium until at least three quarters of the way through the film, all of her early woes were too rushed and I couldn't find sympathy for the character. However, since finding out that the film was based on a book, I can imagine the book to be quite good at developing the characters, creatures and the worlds in a more descriptive way and at a slower pace.
The majority of the film is an action film set in the Martian desert so very much like Star Wars we have laser guns in deserts with strange looking creatures around. Sadly, for me the film wasn't all that good or interesting despite it clearly having a huge budget. My favourite parts were set back on Earth and I though the overall plot (which I haven't described here for fear of spoiling) was excellent, particularly the ending. Unfortunately for me, the middle section of action and drama just let the film down.
The acting from Taylor Kitsch was great. I wasn't sure what to expect as I'd only seen him in the TV series Friday Night Lights but I was really pleased and convinced by his performance. Some of the other characters were slightly overacted (the princess for example).
One of the best things for me was the scenery, particularly back on Earth. The rolling landscapes of Arizona and Utah were perfect for this film and the scenes on Mars where they raft down the river were brilliant. There were a few moments of dodgy CGI background where you could tell that they weren't actually in that environment and were against a green screen but on the whole the special effects were pretty good.
The film is 132 minutes long and in parts it does begin to feel like it is too long. I asked "how much longer" twice which I never do when I watch long films and they are good. It may be too long for small children to sit through.
Despite the action and drama there aren't really any parts unsuitable for children as you would imagine from a Disney film. There are some elements of comedy particularly in the first half hour from John Carter but then when the action kicks in the comedy element falls by the wayside.
I feel mixed about this film, the acting on the whole was great, the sets, the props, the scenery were all great too. The main thing that let it down was the fact that despite the 132 run-time, the book was clearly squashed into a short film and that meant many of the things that had been explored in the books were not clearly explained to the viewers or the viewers did not have time to process who was who and what their problems were.
I definitely didn't hate the film but I didn't love it either, I feel it could have been made a lot better than it was in terms of storytelling. The ending was good and the overarching storyline was good, just the Martian storylines were a wee bit hard to follow.
I guess I'd recommend this film if you have nothing else to do or if you have read the book as you will understand lots of what happens already. For me though I can't really give it more than two stars and that is literally for the great sets, scenery and the overall plot.
John Carter is a 2012 film interpretation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel Princess of Mars, the book was written about 100 years ago and tells of a ex-Confederate General John Carter being transported to Mars and meeting the beautiful Princess of the title. Edgar Rice Burroughs is better known for his Tarzan series but all his books are adventure stories, with plenty of scrapes, punches thrown and the noble hero almost coming a cropper before somehow escaping the jaws of catastrophe. It would be fair to describe them as cracking reads but instantly forgettable beyond a recollection of the characters and a few key scenes, heavy on incisive brilliant dialogue they are not.
Anyway onto the film, John Carter is a Disney version of the famous story, in this version Carter is chased through the American desert and finds an obscure cave, a strange man with symbols and a device and is transported through time and space to the surface of Mars. As with all transplantation stories in Sci-fi or fantasy, the character transplanted is always there at an opportune moment and is usually heralded as some kind of ancient god, and on Mars John Carter has the ability to leap prodigious distances and has a capacity for injury higher than on Earth. He is soon captured by a race of tall green aliens, who believe he can help them survive a war which is raging between two human like races.
Mars as John Carter arrives is characterised by endless battles between two rival cities red and blue, they have been fighting for generations without either gaining an upper hand. However, one of the cities has suddenly had help by a race of strange ephemeral humans with glowing eyes and an almost omnipresent ability to influence events. They appear to desire the destruction of the human cities and are using one side in the war to help them in this aim, John Carter appears just as the two forces warships are due to fight and swings the fight decisively in the favour of the red fraction (i.e., the fraction not influenced by the non-Martian humans).
The red fraction are led by a king and his beautiful daughter (Dejah) hence the introduction of the princess of the original book. As with all romances born in the fire they both do and don't like each other and the rest of the film is a long battle between John and the Princess and john and the blue forces, and John and the tall aliens and John and the mysterious aliens. You get the picture; there is a lot of conflicting stories battling it out here, so we have a romance, a fight between two human societies, the desires of an indigenous Martian race and the nefarious actions of those mysterious aliens. The film doesn't dwell too long on things like plot, storyline or indeed meaningful dialogue and instead jumps to another decent all action scene.
This film currently stands as the biggest net loss in movie making history, somewhere around $100-150 million was lost by Disney in the making of the film. As it stands the film is watchable, it's certainly not terrible and is a long way from the worst film I've ever watched. It does have an issue with its target audience, far too violent for any pre-teens it also has little to offer adults as the storyline is far from original and the special effects are only average. There is the suspension of belief feeling with the sword play in the film when the humans are clearly advanced enough for huge hover ships; even the green Martians have some kind of energy staff. The scenes with the huge white apes fighting Carter in the amphitheatre do remind the viewer vaguely of Luke Skywalker fighting the Rancor in Jabba's palace but the CGI nature of the creatures negates any menace.
All in all, an ok film I'd not be running to watch any sequels that the film generates but if it was on TV I'd watch it and enjoy it. The stand out performance is by Lynn Collins as the Princess, she clearly understood the feisty beautiful warrior woman role she was asked to portray. Taylor Kitsch plays the lead and is ok, all chiselled jaw and round shoulders certainly has the credentials for a Burroughs hero but the script doesn't give him a lot to work with. The rest are simply there for the pay check, including both leaders of the rival cities played as with all Hollywood films by a pair of Brits Mark Strong and Dominic West. As with all Disney films there is even an annoying dog/toad style creature which attaches to Carter and follows him with blind loyalty all the way through the film.
Intro and Info:
John Carter is an action adventure film that was made and released in 2012. The film was directed by Andrew Stanton who has also directed other films like Finding Nemo and Wall E. John Carter was produced by Jim Morris, Colin Wilson and Lindsey Collins .The film was also written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon. John Carter was made on a budget of $250 million Dollars but the film grossed over $280 million dollars and although the film did gross over the budget it was expected to gross much more. The IMDB website rates John Carter as 6.8 out of 10 and that is based on just fewer than 70,000 Votes. John Carter is based on book A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs.
John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) is a captain from the American Civil War Confederate Army and is jailed by Colonel Powell hoping that John would help him fight the Apaches however John Carter escapes and the two find themselves stuck in a cave full of gold, the cave that John Carter has been looking for. John Carter then has to kill a man who appears in the Cave, he takes his medallion as in immediately transported to Barsoom (Mars). John is found by Tars Tarkas (played by William Dafoe) who takes him to their city. John In turn learns about a war that has taken place for a thousand years and how he is the only one who can help defeat the evil on Barsoom.
Taylor Kitsch as John Carter
Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris
Samantha Morton as Sola
Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas
Thomas Haden Church as Tal Hajus
Mark Strong as Matai Shang
Ciarán Hinds as Tardos Mors
Dominic West as Sab Than
Good points and Bad Points:
Although John Carter does rely heavily on special effects and some CGI I thought they were to a very high standard and much better than some that is seen in other films. The CGI was very good which is expected nowadays and the film didn't disappoint. The aliens and creatures in the film all looked very realistic and natural as did the environment in the film and so overall brilliant CGI. The Special effects in the film also were very detailed and very realistic when it was used which also makes the film look better and in my opinion, like I said before the film did rely a lot on special effects but they are not overused and so the film was balanced with superb special effects but also a great story.
The picture quality was brilliant which is to be expected nowadays and so was the sound quality and so pretty much what I expected from a film that was released this year. Because the film is 132 minutes long it is a long film but in my opinion I thought it was easily watchable and the film is very entertaining and the film's story doesn't fell stretched. The direction I thought was superb, all of the scenes had the right camera angles and everything looked good throughout the film. Also all the scenes ran well together, and the lighting was really good as well. I think it adds a good effect to the scenes and film and brilliant directing.
The acting was great too and I liked how the film had a mixture of real life actors and voice acting which worked well together. Also all of the actors did an amazing job in portraying their characters and a few of the actors I didn't really know and so the acting was great. All of the Actors also managed very well to show their characters emotions and feelings and so I was very impressed with the acting. Every one of the actors was also very easy to understand and all of the actors spoke clearly. I would also like to mention how well the actors did in the fight scenes in this film, the choreography was amazing and all the actors did very well to make the fight scenes look realistic and some of the fights were incredible.
The story is also well written and the film although is an action adventure film it did have a few humorous bits added into the film which were very good and a welcome addition to the film. John Carter is based on a series of books like I previously mentioned, I have not read any of the books so I cannot comment on whether everything in the film is true to the book and whether or not it is a good adaptation. The story was slightly original in some aspects but without spoiling the story it's a classic Disney story were the good guy saves the princess, there is more to the story then that but overall it's not too different to many films you watch nowadays. The story is slow to start off with but it gradually becomes faster paced, the whole film is quite action packed but again there is more action as the film progresses. The story did have sub plots and they were great, there is one very good twist in the story which I didn't see coming which I thought was very good and there are other sub plots in the story which i also thought added to make the film much better. The screenplay is as good as the story it's dramatic in places and it also has good dialogue. The story is also easily understood and isn't confusing.
There was a soundtrack in this film and it was good. The soundtrack fit the film well and but you could only hear it in a few scenes and so I think if the soundtrack was actually in the film more it would have been better. The Music also created some suspense in the film when it was needed and also made the film more dramatic in places. The Music in this film was good and it also fit the tone of the mood which also added to the overall effect of the movie. Overall a good and entertaining soundtrack that fit the film perfectly.
I didn't really find any bad points with his film as I really enjoyed it the only thing that I could see that would put people off would be the length but as I have previously mentioned I thought it was easily watchable. The story does not drag and is very action packed and so the length won't really be an issue. The Soundtrack was good but could have been better.
John carter was the first film in a planned trilogy however due to the fact that John Carter didn't do that well at the box office there is doubt whether the other films will go ahead as planned because of the money issues, however the writers of the first film have apparently been hired to adapt a story to make a second film so if they did decide to release a sequel they should already have a story written.
Overall I really enjoyed watching John Carter and think that it was an amazing film. The CGI and Special effects were amazing and all though the film relied heavily on special effects I thought they were all to a very high standard and so were very good and also they never oversaturated the film. The story and screenplay provided a very good story and the story is easily followed, also it is very action packed and will keep you on the edge of your seat. The sound track as I have previously mentioned I thought was superb and the actors all did an amazing job portraying their characters. Overall I really enjoyed watching John Carter and I could easily watch this film again and I highly recommend it. The film does not drag and so is very entertaining well worth 4 out of 5 in my opinion. The film is rated 12A due to violence throughout the film.
4 Out of 5
Thank you for reading my film review, any comments or ratings are appreciated and I will try to rate you all back but if I miss you please let me know and I will rate. This review will also be posted on Ciao too.