It has been all too long since I wrote words to contribute to this page. I guess for one reason or another, I just haven’t found the inspiration to write, though I have viewed plenty of films. Well, after two red bulls, a protein bar and half a line of coke, I think I’ve found the inspiration. Bring it on.
Side note: I might be joking about the coke.
Based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel Princess of Mars, John Carter is the third most expensive film ever produced. Disney really swung for the fences with this one. It opened to mediocre reviews (51% on rotten tomatoes) and disappointing box office results (at least for a film that cost $250 million to make). So is it worth your time and money?
According to this overly critical film fan, yes. Maybe not an amazing film that you will want to watch over and over again, but I think it’s worth watching at least once. Anybody who likes science fiction at all can find a way to at least enjoy the film. The effects are quite impressive, as one would expect for the amount of money they threw at this flick. Also, I found the main characters to be engaging and likeable enough. They are created rather broadly without much in the way of nuance or subtlety, but I didn’t think any of them were done poorly. The action (mostly) is reasonably well done and I did ultimately find myself enjoying most of the movie.
Because there are a great many weaknesses, some more egregious than others. There are a number of times where it is quite obvious that the guy who directed this movie (Andrew Stanton, one of the head honchos for Pixar) has never directed a live action flick before this one. Why do I say that? Most of the scenes that involve CGI ships running around and shooting each other are very well done and very interesting to watch. The action scenes that involve two characters hitting each other or swordfighting were not particularly well shot. A lot of shaky cam and poorly constructed shots that looked like they were framed very poorly.
Also, the film draaaaaaags in the middle.
For all my overly pretentious nitpicking, I liked John Carter. If you enjoyed the live action Disney movies that they mostly did in the 80s and 90s that were big dumb action movies (The Three Musketeers, The Rocketeer, etc) you will probably find this movie to be a worthwhile use of 2 hours and 12 minutes.
Post-script: Fun thought for people like me who know entirely too much about pop culture: John Carter when he is transported to Mars has exceptional strength and jumping capabilities due to the fact that Mars has lower gravity than Earth. The book Princess of Mars was written in 1917. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster wrote their first Superman comic book in 1932. Part of the reason that Superman is so powerful on Earth is that his body is designed for life on Krypton and the difference in gravity, the type of sun and whatnot results in him being, well, super. Both Siegel and Shuster were avid science fiction fans, so odds are very high that they had read Princess of Mars. Given that they did obviously borrow from other sources when they wrote Superman (even the name is derived from Ubermensch, a term used by Nietzche), it’s not that crazy to think that the book Princess of Mars and this story contributed at least a little bit to the creation of Superman.
Just a thought.
For Attebiz Movie Reviews, I’m the J-man.