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John Carter (DVD)
Member Name: darren55
John Carter (DVD)
Date: 19/09/12, updated on 19/09/12 (47 review reads)
Advantages: A decent attempt
Disadvantages: Sluggish at times
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.
Summary: Ok but not great