Release Date: March 9, 2012 (3D/2D theaters and IMAX 3D)
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Andrew Stanton
Screenwriter: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, Willem Dafoe
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of violence and action)
Official Website: Disney.com/JohnCarter
Another formulaic adventure story has hit the big screen. Filled with familiar plot devices and character developing sequences, John Carter is no different from most steam-punk, end-of-the-world genre type movie story lines. The difference, however, lies within the story’s originality. It was the inspiration for many sci-fi adventure stories that came after it after all, right?
The story tells of a former military captain , John Carter, (Taylor Kitsch) who’s gone off the deep end with alcohol and a criminal lifestyle. While outrunning a pack of Indians and a Military police force, with almost no warning Carter is transported to a strange planet called Barsoom, more familiarly known to us as Mars. Carter, soon after, finds himself in the middle a three-way war among the planets’s inhabitants. Thus follows a series of events that allows Carter to rediscover his humanity and redefine who he is and his purpose.
Let’s not beat around the bush, this film isn’t for everyone. Much like with John Favreau’s Cowboys and Aliens, it’s only going to attract a certain type of crowd. And even then, not everyone going to see John Carter will enjoy it. Its Steam-Punkish take on the mysterious world is hard to swallow for most film goers. But if you like Star Wars, more than likely, you’re going to like John Carter.
A little too weighty for the big screen, the overall plot from the 1912 novel series does surprisingly well as an adapted screenplay. Ironically formulaic, there’s some pleasure in knowing that this specific story laid the groundwork for many novels and films with similar desolate landscapes whose inhabitants have state-of-the-art technology. And there’s always going to be some interest in stories that have biblical, historical, and mythological references whose author has carefully placed chronological care in the story.
Having not read the series of novels, John Carter was a delight to see! that is due to my likes an interests, however. I pride myself on being able to recognize whether or not a movie is expertly filmed and made, whether or not I enjoyed it. However, I found that, despite it’s formulaic script, (all too familiar to us now, but not when the novels were being published) the writing and adaptation of the novel was expertly executed and fun. Nothing about the film felt forced in order to meet its 2 hour duration, and all of the characters, plot developments, and mythological aspects of the story fit into the limited time frame effortlessly.
When it comes to acting in these types of films, you can always count on seeing familiar faces. It’s hard not see Mark Strong in every end of the world, steam punk adventure story as the bad guy. Even his performance as the soon-to-be leader of the Sinestro Corps was somewhat evil and misguided. Lynn Collins, with her gorgeous portrayal of a brilliant woman who struggles with the matriarchal society of Barsoom, shows how strong women are, most often, the best part of any sci-fi adventure story. And the almost unrecognizable performance of Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas should not go unnoticed , as well as Dominic West, who can’t seem to play anything BUT seedy characters that no one likes. But the lime light was shining brightly on Taylor Kitsch who played Jon Carter. His performance in Wolverine as Gambit was proof enough that he can handle a comic book style film adventure. Will Taylor now be inducted into the long list of actors and actresses that continually pop up in comic book and sci-fi related films? Come to think of it, I think every major actor in this film has appeared in some of the major comic book films within the last 15 years. Nicely done Andrew Stanton!
If you’re like me and enjoy the campy adventure story of John Carter, you’re going to love the action and CGI explosiveness even more. The overall cinematography is gorgeous to look at, and the computer generated effects will make James Cameron wonder what the heck he’s doing! But from what I could see based on the 2D version of the film, 3D can’t be THAT intense. Go see it in 2D, it’ll be a better watch for you.
This film, without a doubt, is right up my ally; adventure, suspense, action, great writing, and a story that ‘s as weird as it is amazing, you can’t get much greater than that. For me, I rank this film fairly high, but understand that this cinematic expedition won’t be for everyone. So for those of you going in with low expectations, remember that even though this film may not be your cup-o-tea, there’s still quality lingering in camp.