I Saw A Film Today… John Carter

After a very disappointing weekend for the people behind John Carter (megalords of child entertainment, Disney), I actually gained the interest to actually see the film. Early reports estimate that John Carter could end up losing close to $165 million out of its original $250-million budget. I’m curious as to why. There have been many speculations. Some believe that  the dulling down of original story by Edgar Rice Burroughs to being a reason. Some even believe that changing the title from John Carter of Mars to simply John Carter was enough for the American public to skip over it. Theories will go on for a long time I’m guessing.

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John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is just a regular insubordinate soldier until he finds a magical medallion that transports him to… Utah? You would think so but it actually turns out to be a whole other planet. Mars in fact. Or as it’s known there, Barsoom. Kitsch does a well enough job as the main character. Most of the time he’s like a reincarnation of Tarzan. Me jump, me swing sword, me say lines.

John comes at a turbulent time for Barsoom. A war between the citizens of Helium and Zodanga has been raging on. The Zodangians seem to have the upper hand after Prince Sab Than (Dominic West) is granted a powerful weapon from a Thern named Matai, who is portrayed by poor Mark Strong. The guy never can really get a break from being the baddie. Sab Than decides to issue a cease-fire under one condition: if the lovely princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), will marry him. But with a secret plan in place once the ceremony is over, the only person who can save the princess and her city is John Carter.

Fans of Science Fiction of old will really like this film. Some of the armor and wardrobe (or lack there of) has an air of nostalgia about them. They’re slightly cheesy and outlandish, just as the story is. The fact that there is air and water on the planet yet when John tries to walk for the first time, the low gravity makes him leap twenty feet and fall on his face is never explained. That is how much of this film’s story goes but it’s entertaining.

I do believe that this film would have benefited more if it wasn’t made under the tyrannical eye of Disney. There again, the budget would be lacking as well. Although I haven’t read the epic series of books by Rice Burroughs, I have heard it is more adult than this adaptation. I still really enjoyed John Carter, and I would also be interested in seeing this fictional future film. I guess reading the novels would be the best way to resolve my curiosity.

The cast is very large and features many names you’ll recognize. Thomas Haden Church, Willem Dafoe, Jon Favreau, and David Schwimmer all provide voices for character’s of the Thark tribe. The two main male leads, Taylor Kitsch and Dominic West, are as I mentioned earlier like updated Tarzans (convenient since Rice Burroughs was also the man who pinned the famed tree swinging man). James Purefoy gives a fantastic small performance. It would have been nice to see more of him. Lynn Collins’ Princess Dejah is also great as well. I would even be bold enough to say her character could go down as one of those classic Sci-Fi ladies in the coming years.

It is quite unfortunate that John Carter will be remembered solely as a flop. It genuinely is better than the run-of-the-mill TV trailers let on. If you do go see it, see it in the traditional two dimensions. Since the 3-D was done in post production and not actually filmed in 3-D, I’m guessing it’s going to be rather dull.

Verdict: SEE IT!

* Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.

** Poster by Andrew Stanton.

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