Everyone who’s heard about it (which places you in the distinct minority), is expecting John Carter to be the biggest flop of the year due to Disney’s terrible marketing. Unfortunately it’s opening box office numbers are reflecting that. I say unfortunately, because despite it’s flaws, I found John Carter to be a really enjoyable movie.
For those of you who, like yours truly, have no idea what JC (John Carter) is about, it’s based on the book A Princess of Mars by Edgar Burroughs, who is more well known for writing Tarzan. The story follows the retired American civil war hero, John Carter, who has become a treasure hunter. The army tracks him down and tries to bring him back into the fold in order to deal with the native American threat. He is not taken with the idea, escapes but is soon caught in the middle of a fight between a small troop of natives and an Army platoon. Despite his complicated relationship with the army, he rescues one of their soldiers and attempts to flee. The soldier and him are trapped by the Indians and attempt to take shelter in a small cave. Upon entering the cave he is attacked by a strange man in robes carrying a glowing amulet. He picks up the amulet after killing the man and wakes up to find himself in a very strange land.
I feel I need to discuss JC’s major flaw first. The most major flaw is that, like many movies based on books, the script glosses over many issues/characters that obviously need a lot more time to fully develop. In order to let things fully develop, you’d need to split JC across at least 2 movies. As a result, the movie does feel a bit shallow, and if they’d given these developmental issues more screen time, this movie would have been fantastic! So the major problem is the shallow characters and issues that aren’t given enough time to develop.
Another problem I have is part of the world of Mars, where I felt there’s a bit of confusion in regards to the way technology is used by the various groups. The ships of the two “human” factions that live on Mars fly, but are very much like our old ships that sailed the oceans. They’ve got some major artillery, but it was still essential for soldiers to board the other ship with swords and such in order to capture it. Fair enough. I like a bit of swashbuckling. But wait, we’ve got our local native mars inhabitants, who are clearly meant to be underdeveloped and lacking in technological prowess, who have rifles. They have enough of them that if they all decide to start firing, they can bring down one of the super advanced flying ships. So the super advanced “human” races use swords and artillery, where the natives have guns? Did I miss something here?
The other problem, and this is really minor, is a flying scene towards the end of the movie. Seriously, get over the Star Wars speeder bike chase people! Just because you are doing a scene that’s similar doesn’t mean your action has to follow the same camera shots and action sequences! Geez!
Having spent most of this review highlighting JC’s flaws, like I said at the start of this review, I still really enjoyed it. There’s a few really great emotional moments, cool fight scenes, and there’s plenty of eye candy. Overall it’s inconsistent and the story definitely needed some work, but if you’re in the mood for an action sci-fi story which you can just switch off and enjoy, JC will be right up your alley.
Movie Rating: An enjoyable (if flawed) action/sci-fi that’s definitely worth one watch