This movie was directed by Andrew Stanton, known for Wall*E and Finding Nemo. He took a giant step out into the adventure epic genre with this one. The question is: “should he have?” This is a Disney creation and as a result has state of the art graphics and cgi. It stars Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, a relatively new actor known for the TV series Friday Night Lights. Clearly he worked out with weights for the role. His character flexes muscles like the best action stars extant. Lynn Collins plays Dejah Thoris, the princess. She also “gives good flesh” onscreen. Let me just say, she looks really hot in her costumes. They cast her well. Make no mistake, it is a visually stunning piece in many ways. Unfortunately, the implausible plot and cheesy screenplay overshadow the visual triumphs of John Carter. I forgot it was 3D in about 15 minutes as its sorry plot just kept dragging on.
The character John Carter is a captain set in the Civil War and he appears to be running from all forms of duty. We are never told why but we do find out at one point his wife and daughter have been burned inside his home. Perhaps that is why he runs? Again, we are not told why. The movie is based on a beloved turn-of-the-century novel so I can only assume the book explains these things. The movie moves quickly from Earth to Mars leaving no space for explanation. John Carter comes into the possession of a pendant that transports him to Mars. Once there, he discovers he has a new ability to jump ridiculously high over long distances. This makes him a sort of hero among a colony of 12 foot tall beings that each have 4 human like arms and tusks. They are uncomfortably similar to the tribes in James Cameron’s Avatar only they are flesh colored. The even have their own language like the creatures in Avatar. Things happen and there are all sorts of special effects that go on. There is a dog-like creature that runs blindingly fast, I found this creature quite cool. However stunning everything may look in this movie, make no mistake that none of it makes any sense. The story is preposterous, even from a fantasy standpoint. I hoped against hope it eventually would make sense and engage me but it decidedly never did.
There is a princess and John becomes her savior. There is a gladiator scene where John is thrown to a set of giant white gorillas. John defeats the mammoth beasts. It then becomes a struggle for John to get back to his planet but he really has no motive to do so. He decides to become a Martian and marries the princess. The romance writing is terse and the characterization underdeveloped. The love between them is not believable nor is much of anything written in John Carter. I must say, I hardly even know how to be sarcastic about this movie, it’s like a poorly made scif-fi channel movie. Disney knows how to make hero/princess stories, shame on Disney for this one. Oh, and I must inform you that if you persist in your desire to see this movie after reading … it is 2 1/2 hours long so be warned. For my wife and I out on a date, it was movie watching torture. This movie may appeal to some but for me, it was a real waste of 2.5 hours. Having said all that, I am sure Disney is already starting to plan the sequel. If they make John Carter 2, let’s hope it’s better than this.