Sunday, April 14, 2013

John Carter (2012)

Civil War vet John Carter searches for gold and is captured by the Cavalry who requests his help to fight Indians.  Carter escapes but the Calvary gives chase and then he runs into   Indians.

After hiding in a cave, he runs into a being from another world who he kills in an altercation. John grabs the beings blinking medallion and is transported to a strange barren landscape where he appears to have acquired super jumping powers.

Shortly after finding a nest with eggs which birth adorable little aliens, Carter is captured by a four armed, twelve foot tall race of aliens.  He also discovers there are other people on the planet who look like him, and figures out he has somehow ended up on Mars where there is a war going on.

The first problem with this movie is that you need the right actor to play John Carter.  Carter's reactions are right out of a Clint Eastwood western, Dirty Harry or Indiana Jones movie.  But not every actor can pull off that delivery. So instead of endearing himself to the audience with his independence and refusal to blindly follow authority, he's more like a cantankerous, obnoxious, unlikeable guy.

Second big problem is the pacing is often tedious and plot points contradict themselves.  There's action, then romance, then long scenes of dialogue that you'll drift through waiting for something to happen.

The biggest problem is why did anyone think naming this John Carter was a good idea?  Who the hell is John Carter?  Why should I care?  It sounds like it's going to be serious adult themed drama, not an action scifi movie based on Mars.  Why not John Carter of Mars?  Or John Carter and the Alien Planet?  Something to clue people in on the fact that it's a scifi action film.  But John Carter? Boring!

The movie is based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs books, which influenced many filmmakers. This leads to another problem. Even though this is the source story for a lot of ideas of modern scifi film making, it looks derivative as it's ideas have been appropriated by others and done before.  So as you watch you think of Star Wars, the adventures of Indiana Jones, or Avatar or some other scifi movie.

The best parts are that the movie looks fantastic and unlike many movies, the CGI looks good and not like the actor is in front of a green screen.  Also the alien pug is absolutely adorable and it's speed makes it even cuter.

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