“John Carter” – Review by Christian Becker

The $250 million adventure movie that Disney is trying to call “the next Pirates of the Caribbean” is now in theaters, and despite it not being as successful as the executives at Disney wanted, it’s still a pretty fun.

I was never very excited for John Carter from the start. I didn’t think it looked awful, but there was nothing in the trailers or photos that really had me hooked. I would just watch it and go “ehhhhh, whatever”. Because it just looked like another Star Wars meets Avatar meets Cowboys and Aliens meets Green Lantern meets Prince of Persia meets…well you get the idea. But the funny thing is that John Carter actually comes from a book series written a century ago called John Carter of Mars, written by Edger Rice Burroughs. So really, the story of John Carter came before all these movies. Which really stinks on it’s part because it’s now being compared to all those movie i just listed even though it was the first of it’s kind. Even though this is true, you still can’t help feel it borrowing from others.

The movie as a whole was pretty good though. Nothing amazing is ever seen or heard, but It’s all in good fun. I don’t care if I’ve seen someone fight a giant monster in a packed arena before. Chances are I’m still going to enjoy watching on screen anyway. This is all great stuff that John Carter had going for it. The effects and action scenes were never overdone to the point of being repetitive and there was always something new to go along with each battle scene, big or small. John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) is able to jump extremely high in the air and have enhanced strength abilities all due to the lack of gravity Mars has, so he gets treated like a type of superhero at points.

I was going to explain of John Carter got to Mars in the first place, because he didn’t start out there at first. But I figured it would be better to leave that out mainly because I knew nothing going in about the character or how he got to where he was, and I had more fun and interest because of that because I kept waiting and wondering until the point he gets to Mars and found his life on Earth very mysterious and enjoyable while he was there. I can try and explain the rest of the plot, but there honestly isn’t very much to explain without anyone loosing interest. Because me listing off who is fighting who and who is the ruler of what is not as exciting as seeing it for yourself. All you need to know is that there are societies at war along with multiple armed creatures who you don’t want to mess with, (although, Carter spends a lot of time with them).

Another thing that I really loved was the score, composed by Michael Giacchino. Disney scores almost never disappoint, and this is no exception. One scene in particular, involving a fight against the green armed creatures and the flashbacks Carter has been having about his Earth life, really had me caring for him and sucked me into the adventure. The music is like that pretty much all the way through, but that one scene really stuck out to me in the theater.

Along the lines of what I liked, I need to discuss the acting. Taylor Kitsch plays a fine version of John Carter. Like I said, I never read the books so I’ve had no other comparison in my head to what John Carter could look and act like, but I could imagine this is pretty darn close. Lynn Collins plays the princess of the movie, Dejah Thoris. Because every Disney film needs some kind of a princess right? To my surprise, she played a very strong character, both in strength and in traits. She’s just the “damsel in distress” like many other female counterparts do. She as quite a bit of action to herself and even scenes to establish her wants and desires instead of just “oh look at me, I’m pretty”! Voice actors include Thomas Haden Church and Willem Defoe. They both voice strange green creatures with the multiple arms who take John Carter in after he first arrives on Mars. They are alright for what they have to do, although their voices are almost unrecognizable, so going just to hear them would be a waste of everybody’s time.

The negativity in the movie may seem simple, but it can bring it down a lot while watching it. One thing i can’t stand in a script is if it’s muddled with corny lines and situations, and boy this was full of them. If Disney really wants to replicate the success they’ve had with the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, they should start taking the dialogue seriously and fill it with witty and clever lines that will be memorable rather than  cheesy one liners and things no one of Earth would say (or in this case, Mars). Also, the last twenty or so minutes of the movie seemed very rushed. The pacing was fantastic up until the end point, where major things would be happening and they would come out of no where. If the filmmakers had taken the time they took to build up the ending and make it just as well paced as the first couple hours, then I could have appreciated it more instead going “wait, why is this all happening”?

Even with it’s inability to compete with Disney’s other live action franchises (I’m in the minority group that really liked Prince of Persia), I still found John Carter to be a fun adventure that I was sucked into and was never bored at any moment. Maybe it was the IMAX 3D experience that enhanced my enjoyment, but all in all, I have no problem giving John Carter a recommendation based on awesome visual thrills and an entertaining new universe.

Grade: B

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