After all of the buzz surrounding the budget of John Carter, the aggressive marketing campaign leading up to it’s release and the many clips released by Disney, was it all worth it? In my opinion, yes. John Carter was a fully realized world filled with a group of characters brought to life by a very well rounded out cast of actors. I had thought the movie would appeal to a much wider audience, but after watching the movie it’s obvious that a lot of kids would be lost upon many of the story points. Or they would just not care and want to see more of the four armed Thark aliens and John Carter’s faithful pet Woola.
On the planet Mars, known to it’s inhabitants as Barsoom, the residents of the mobile city Zodanga threaten to overrun and conquer the world after gifted with the use of an ultimate weapon provided by the mysterious Therns. The only people left to oppose them on Barsoom are the noble people of Helium (Not the stuff you put in balloons.) led by Jeddak Tardos Mors (Ciarin Hinds), the father of the beautiful princess of Helium known as Dejah Thoris. That’s the first piece of the story, while the seconds lies in the form of former Confederate cavalry man John Carter. After practically stumbling upon a Thern in a cave, John Carter is transported via the Thern’s medallion to the world of Barsoom where he will play an integral part in it’s fate and that of the princess Dejah Thoris.
The first 15-20 minutes of the movie introduce us to the character of John Carter and the life he now leads on Earth. He is obviously a bit of a haunted man, which is alluded to throughout the movie and at one point shown to us in a spectacular battle scene where John Carter takes on a horde of green martians that is interspersed with flashbacks to his past on Earth. As I said before, the movie was a bit bigger on story than I thought but still had a great mix of action in between all of that. The story was a bit more intricate than just a marriage between the Princess and the Zodangan leader Sab Than (Played by Dominic West) but involves the Therns as the main threat, and not only limited to Barsoom. I won’t spoil anything in the review, so just go see the movie!
The special effects and motion capture were of course beautifully done in the film. The Tharks and John Carter’s initial interactions with them were interesting and actually pretty damn funny. Willem Dafoe’s Tars Tharkas mistakenly thinking John Carter’s name is Virginia had me laughing more than once. The world of Barsoom was beautifully realized on screen even in the scenes in the desert wastelands. Helium and Zodanga were both unique in their own way and I can’t wait to see more of the planet’s many locales explored if they do indeed have a sequel to the movie. It’s definitely left open to one by the movie’s end, but done so in a way where if they don’t have one there is still some closure.
I found Taylor Kitsch to be reasonably likeable in the film. He showed that he could definitely be a decent leading man in a movie, and he’ll have a shot to do it once again in Battleship this summer. Almost overshadowing him in my opinion was Lynn Collins, who played the role of Dejah Thoris perfectly. I was thankful she wasn’t going to play the princess who is constantly kidnapped and held hostage. Though not invincible, Dejah can definitely hold her own with a sword. I really think that the warrior woman thing is overdone in film, but I didn’t have a problem with it in this movie. John Carter, though seemingly invincible in the movie also had his moments of weakness as he was immobilized at one point by the Thern Matai Shang, played by Mark Strong. The chemistry between Kitsch and Collins was working in the movie as well, which makes me hope we can see it develop more in a sequel. This goes without even mentioning how hot Lynn Collins looked in the film… give me a martian girl anytime. (Not a Thark though.) Also give me Lynn Collins in more movies besides another Wolverine movie.
Overall I give the movie 4 out of 5 Tharks. The movie kept me interested but did have a bit of a lull towards the middle part. Even though Dominic West and Mark Strong did a fine job of playing the villains of the story, I’d have preferred they were in it just a little more in scenes directly with John Carter. I truly hope the movie makes enough to justify a sequel, because now that they’ve got the story and many characters pretty much established the sequel could jump right into things instead of spending any time on Earth. (Pay attention Green Lantern sequel.) The movie is totally worth the price of a theater ticket, though you may as well stay away from the 3D like I did. No movie is truly worth a 15 dollar ticket.“Ohhhh baby – Youu, you got what I neeeeed, but you say he’s just a friend. Wait, what are we doing?”