Well, it’s been a while since I’ve done a film review and since I just saw a movie on the big screen last night I figured it was about time that I do one that is fresh on my mind. This is The Illusive One’s Review of John Carter. Based on the pulp fiction novel, A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the film follows Ex-Confederate cavalryman John Carter as he is somehow transported to Mars, finds that he has super strength on the planet due to its low gravity and gets involved in the planet’s conflicts while trying to get back home.
When I first saw the ads for this film I have to admit, it looked really stupid to me. From the trailers I saw, it looked like the poor man’s Avatar. The CIG that I had seen looked kind of bland, there wasn’t much in terms of action, and of course, it is about a guy who was teleported to Mars. That’s kind of an idiotic concept and I fully expected this film to be stupid.
But, much to my surprise, I was 100% right. I mean, good God! How do you get so many things wrong in a film? How does something so bland and uninspired get the green light? Who saw this script and thought it was good? Why didn’t the producers say that something needs to be better, or reshot or rewritten? Who saw this in post-production and decided it was worth promoting? It makes no sense! But I guess, seeing as how I like to go out of my way to note positives in everything that I see or read, I guess I should say what I liked about this film. The only real good thing to note is that there was some good humor in it. There was a little slapstick that was mildly amusing, a good reoccurring gag where a tribe of aliens think John’s name was Virginia and there was a dog/alien creature that was hilarious and easily the best part of the film.
The rest of the film, however, is complete crap. One of the most obvious flaws with this film is that it takes place on Mars, yet it looks like it was shot in an Arizona desert. There is no attempt to hide it whatsoever and some of the shots look like they were ripped directly from some other film. For God sakes, the sand isn’t even red and if you screwed that up you have some serious issues when it comes to filmmaking.
The general direction, special effects, and action aren’t very good either. While there are a few epic moments there is little to no payoff with action scenes that aren’t very well choreographed and lack any kind of suspense or tension mainly due to the plot, (well get to that in a minute). And then we have the CGI and, good God, it was awful. To sum it up in a single sentence, it looked like it belonged in a Pixar movie, (ironically I found out afterwards that the guy who directed this had only done Pixar films previously). While some of the designs could be interesting, they ultimately failed to bring these creatures to life the way they did in other films like District 9 and Avatar.
The 3D was completely pointless in this film. Watching it with 3D glasses is exactly the same as watching it on a regular TV and if you make the mistake of going to see this film, avoid this format because it is not worth the extra money at all.
The next major problem is the characters and dialog. For starters you have Carter himself who is completely unlikeable. I mean, this guy is just an asshole and comes off as a complete selfish prick. When he finally decides to do the right thing, it still doesn’t make him likeable and to be honest, his shift makes no sense whatsoever. It seemed like they were trying to make a badass antihero out of him but they only succeeded in making him an unlikable dick.
The rest of the characters are about as stock as you can get. The Princess is the kind that tries to be badass but is ultimately an idiot. While I’m on the subject, the romance between the two protagonists doesn’t really work or make sense as there is no real chemistry between the two. They just meet, they argue, they fight the bad guy and they’re in love. It makes no sense whatsoever. The king and one of the generals are even worse, which is a shame considering that they’re both played by great actors. The apparent villain is your typical stock villain who loves to kill and destroy just for the sake of killing and destroying. While the concepts for the actual villains were interesting it was ultimately squandered due to poor execution.
For me, however, the worst part was the plot. To put it simply, from the moment the film starts, you know exactly how it will go. John encounter a barbaric alien tribe, you know how he’ll end up with them. He encounters a princess; you know how things will work out between the two. When it seems like the villain is about to win you know exactly how it will turn out. It’s the kind of predictability that I despise in films and makes wonder just why the hell I bother seeing any.
As you can probably tell from my long rant, I HATE this movie! Everything that I hate in films or fiction in general was in this movie. Bland, stock characters, a predictable plot, bad action scenes, poor CGI and it left a bad taste in my mouth. I regretted seeing it the moment it ended and when the credits rolled I couldn’t get out of the theater fast enough. I never read the book so I don’t know how it compares, but from a moviegoer’s standard, this is a film that I suggest everyone avoids like the plague. It’s not worth anyone’s time and certainly not worth anyone’s money.