by Rick Grant
Writer-director, Andrew Stanton adapted his screenplay from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic 1912 novel, “A Princess of Mars.”Yeah, it’s the same author who wrote “Tarzan.” Disney spent a ton of dough on this fantasy adventure hoping for a blockbuster the likes of “Avatar.” After the final cut was approved and early feedback from test audiences came in, now the Mouse is praying to reach their break even point.
Yeah, it’s got the whole blockbuster package–handsome leading man, sultry, sexy, and feisty leading woman, plenty of mind blowing special effects, weird creatures, and swashbuckling sword combat. However, the story is so jumbled its almost impossible to follow.
All the flash starts to get boring after the first hour because the audience is trying to figure out the story. Indeed, viewers are baffled by pertinent questions: Why is John Carter suddenly on Mars after finding a pendant that glowed blue? Why is his body still in a crypt with the lock on the inside back in 1889? Who are the 12 foot green tinted creatures who seem to be like American Indians? And where did the other humans come from? And, who are the shape shifting immortals?
Ah yes, we are supposed to disregard the holes in the story and revel at John Carter’s (Taylor Kitsch) prowess as a fighter after he finally wins the heart of princess Deja Thoris (Lynn Collins). She is being forced into a marriage of convenience to Sab Than (Dominic West) to save the City of Helium.
After leaping all over the planet to battle the bad guys and show Deja he’s a cool dude, she finally seems to dig his aura–or whatever. But, another major flaw in the story is: There is no chemistry between Kitsch and Collins. Then the characters are suddenly kissing and thrusting their bodies up against each other? Come on! The scene turns out to be tepid, and ultimately, anticlimactic.
Still, the movie does have a lot of convincing action with flying machines using primitive weapons and swords. It’s like technology took a left turn after the Civil War, and the aliens picked and chose high tech propulsion but liked old flint-lock smooth bore long guns over repeating rifles. The strange mix of weapon technology is at least interesting.
Savvy viewers will see the forces of good and evil working on Mars. The immortal shape shifters know that the nature of all life is conflict and war. They observe and cause mayhem just to make their experience more satisfying.
One might say that director-writer, Andrew Stanton owes a creative debt to George Lucas and James Cameron in his style and vision. However, he let the story fall by the wayside, greatly diminishing the quality of the work. What’s left is a dazzling special effects show that turns out to be skin deep.
John Carter Movie Review
by Rick Grant