Posted by: ckckred | March 12, 2012

John Carter is weird and absurd

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) staring at a ceiling

I wasn’t too sure what to think about John Carter before I saw the movie.  The film was poorly advertised by Disney (it didn’t address the plot) and Mars movies don’t have a good reputation.  Just look at Mars AttacksMission to Mars, or Mars Needs Moms (the last one flopped so badly it bankrupted Robert Zemeckis’ film company Imagemovers).

The main two reasons I saw John Carter is that it had Bryan Cranston in it and it’s directed by Andrew Stanton, the man behind Pixar classics such as Wall-E and Finding Nemo.  Stanton must have been trying to pull off what Pixar colleague Brad Bird did with entering the live-action films.  Bird succeeded with Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, but Stanton doesn’t have the same results with John Carter.  And to my further disappointment, Cranston’s only in 10 minutes of the film.

The main problem with John Carter is that the movie attempts too much.  The film seems like bits from Star Wars and Avatar.  Just saying that is quite ironic since John Carter is based from Edgar Rice Burrough’s “A Princess of Mars”, a series of comic books that both George Lucas and James Cameron gave credit to for influencing their films.  “A Princess of Mars” recently celebrated its 100th anniversary last month, and the producers thought that maybe it would give the film a boost.

Strangely enough, not until John Carter has Hollywood attempted to do “A Princess of Mars” on the big screen (excepting a 2009 direct-to-DVD movie).  That may have to do with Murrough’s next work, the far more famous “Tarzan”, which has spawned so many films that have come out (Disney made an animated version in 1999).  But maybe it’s because it’s a hard topic to grasp for audiences.

The story revolves around John Carter (Taylor Kitsch of TV’s fantastic Friday Night Lights), a calvary man who fought in the Confederate army.  After the war, Carter discovers a cave full of gold and odd symbols, and after shooting a Martian god (it’s complicated, I know), he is transported to Mars.

This isn’t the Mars that NASA landed on, but one where there are both humans and aliens.  This confuses me.  How are there humans on Mars?  Did they transport there like Carter did millions of years ago?  The movie never explains.  And the aliens, who are called the Tharks, look a lot like the Na’vi people of Avatar, except they’re green and they have tusks.

On Mars, Carter soon discovers he has increased strength due to Mars’ weaker gravity.  This also doesn’t make much sense.  Mars has 38% of gravity as Earth, but John Carter is able to jump over buildings about 100 feet high.  Shouldn’t he jump only a third of that height?

Carter soon meets Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), the Princess of the Martian city Helium.  Her father wants her to marry Sab Than (Dominic West) so Than won’t destroy all of Helium.  See Than has the Holy Therns (the Martian gods I was talking about earlier) on his side, meaning that he’s practically invincible.

John Carter lacks Stanton’s touch which he put in Wall-E and Finding Nemo.  The characters don’t have the child-like innocence as Wall-E or Nemo did.  Moreover, the film’s plot is poor, and is extremely weird.

Is John Carter as bad as some critics put it?  No, but it’s definitely not good.  It’s disappointing, because the movie has a lot of potential.  Kitsch and Collins give it their all, but they can’t overcome a poorly plotted story.

Over the weekend, John Carter got $30.6 million, which is pretty bad for a movie with a $250 million budget.  The end of the movie hints a sequel, though I doubt that will actually happen.

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Responses

  1. Wow, it’s pretty surprising that it only grabbed $30.6 million over the weekend, I thought it would have been a bigger blockbuster.

    • The reason John Carter didn’t get that much was because it had no big stars and it was poorly advertised by Disney. Plus on the internet people were spreading bad reviews on it.

      But it should have gotten at least over $30.6 million. This doesn’t really hurt Hollywood’s great movie year right now. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I was tempted to see this one because of Cranston’s involvement, but now I’m glad I didn’t. Also I originally thought that the two races on Mars were separate types of aliens, but apparently it’s aliens vs humans, which makes no sense.

    • It’s such a weird film. Cranston does give a good performance, but he’s in so little of the film.

      The aliens vs. humans part doesn’t make much sense either. Throughout the film I couldn’t tell whether the aliens were allied with John Carter or against him (they keep changing their minds).

  3. […] “None – I didn’t see enough 2012 films to have any of them” Charles Khosla: John Carter, Red Tails, A Thousand Words, The Three Stooges, Wrath of the Titans Fernando Rafael Quintero […]


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