John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

John Carter

Genre: Action | Adventure | Fantasy

Director: Andrew Stanton

Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, Willem Dafoe

MPAA-Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action

Release Date: March 9, 2012

John Carter begins in New York City in 1881. The title character—a war veteran– is a loner in the age of the Civil War. Although he is a skilled soldier, approved
he no longer wishes to fight. “We’re nothing but a war species and I want no part of it,” he boldly declares when the military tries to bring him back into service. Their pleas are ignored but soon enough, Carter is transported to Mars, where another war awaits.

After he discovers a mysterious object on Earth, Carter is thrust across the universe and finds himself on Mars, where he learns that he has supernatural abilities on this foreign planet. For example, Carter is able to leap to insane heights and travel long distances through the air.

But soon enough, he learns that this foreign land is in chaos. A group of evil creatures is attempting to infiltrate and eventually destroy the planet and its inhabitants.

The title character- who has suffered through several tragedies of his own—must eventually decide whether or not he is willing to fight for the survival of this alien planet and its strange residents.

Unfortunately, there is little reason to care what he decides.

Based on Edgar Rice Burrough’s story “A Princess of Mars,” this movie attempts to replicate the success of Star Wars and Avatar but fails miserably. There is little to enjoy about this wannabe epic film.

It should be noted that Burrough’s story predates the adventures of Luke Skywalker and the travails of the Na’vi. So it’s hard to argue that this story is stealing from those previous works. It isn’t hard to argue, however, that the film fails to live up to their cinematic example.

Whereas Star Wars told an interesting story with unique characters and beautiful execution, Carter is a mess of a motion picture.

The plot is definitely strange as it transports a Civil War veteran into a war on Mars. But it isn’t the weird concept that makes this film such a dismal experience. It’s the lack of interesting characters in it.

Carter, himself, is a bland former soldier with little personality. Throughout the story, he simply spouts out dramatic and forgettable lines. In addition to calling the human race a “war species,” he says things like “I don’t fight for anyone” and later adds that “war is a shameful thing.” Like many of his lines, these sentences would be better suited for bumper stickers rather than movie dialogue.

Additionally, none of the alien creatures he encounters is relatable or compelling in even the slightest way. In fact, there are so many alien creatures in this story that it’s difficult to keep track of which is which.

But audiences will likely not go into this movie expecting deep characters. I think potential viewers will be attracted to the epic nature of this story but in even that category, John Carter comes up short. The only epic aspect of this story is its length. Clocking in at just under two and a half hours, this is a movie that is overdone and oversaturated with unnecessary scenes and battle sequences. It should have been shortened by at least forty minutes.

With such a long running time accompanying its weak story and bland characters, John Carter is the worst movie I have seen so far this year.

John Carter is rated PG-13 for scenes of violence and mayhem. The story may be too violent but teenagers could enjoy the adventurous aspects of the film. However, it would be far better for parents to show their teens the original Star Wars film series rather than paying the extra money to go to the theater to see this movie.

Review by: John Hanlon