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John Carter (Flick’s Review)

Posted on | March 23, 2012 | Add Comments

3 stars

John Carter, a civil war veteran is transported to Barsoom (Mars) via magical silver medallion. Carter finds himself trapped in the middle of chaos; the Tharks, a green alien species struggle to stay peaceful, meanwhile the Helium people are on the brink of war with the Zodangan people. All of the species want Carter because after being transported to Barsoom, Carter acquires the power to leap as high as he wants.

I didn’t know what to expect going into John Carter. The trailers are packed to the brim with action, but Andrew Stanton, the director or Finding Nemo and Wall-E, has shown that he’s a master at storytelling. Now that I’ve seen the film, I can tell you that any predictions I had were wrong. The beginning of the film is in simple terms a mess. Many subplots are introduced very quickly but not very coherently. It seems to me as if Stanton and co. were very ecited about the middle of the film, so they didn’t spend much time on the beginning. The dialogue is hard to understand. Whenever anyone on Jarsoom (Earth) says a word they mutter it while they breath heavily and in Taylor Kitsch’s (John Carter) case you might see a muscle or two (more on him later).

Once Carter meets Tars Tarkas, voiced expertly by Willem Dafoe, the film kicks off.  Tarkas is a unique character especially when it comes  to his relationship with Carter: the two are friends but they both have different ideas about what’s best for everyone. Many ideas are very interesting and a lot of the scenes are exciting. There are also a considerable amount of subplots that include: Carter and Tarkas’ shaky relationship; Carter’s life on Jarsoom; Carter, Dejah Thoris, and Sab Than’s love triangle; Matai Shang and Sab Than’s “let’s go destroy the world” story; Edgar Rice Burroughs figuring out who Carter was and more.  The end isn’t as bad as the beginning, but it’s still confusingly uninteresting. Not to say I didn’t get caught up in the world of John Carter (I did for some of the film), it’s just that by the end I felt like saying “again?”. Really? Taylor Kitsch. Next up is big ships in the ocean and an Oliver Stone drama, but right now he’s sinking. His muscles are big but his performance could have been much better.  Kitsch speaks and acts in a way that leads me to believe he doesn’t want to be in the film.  What’s even worse is that Kitsch is surrounded by Defoe, Mark Strong, and Thomas Haden Church who are all giving expert performances. Muscles and Martians and Mars, oh my!

My favorite character is Tars Tarkas because Dafoe’s acting is great, the Virginia scene is funny and the CGI is good.  Carter and Tarkas had a great relationship and the CGI was wonderful.

My favorite scene is when Matai Shang captures Carter and then Shang tells him (I won’t spoil it) because Mark Strong was great and the dialogue was well written and spoken.

Andres Stanton’s live action film debut is incomprehensible at the beginning and end, the 3-D is not impressive, and Taylor Kitsch is a bore. However, the middle is fascinating, all of the actors other than Kitsch are strikingly powerful and the original book was one of he first sci-fi books. So I recommend it.

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