Disney’s John Carter is a large scale action-adventure worthy of the comparisons it’s drawn to movies like Avatar and Star Wars. While it’s a sci-fi movie at its core it incorporates more genres than those movies. John Carter is based on a 100 year-old pulp fiction magazine that’s an intersting mix of sci-fi, adventure, western, and the super hero genres. It’s a story that has inspired generations of authors and film makers. So, while many will make the aforementioned Star Wars comparison, John Carter came long before it.
In the movie, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a decorated Civil War veteran with a troubled past. I won’t go into specifics, but he’s transported to Mars where he finds himself in the middle of an epic war. While you want to root for him, Carter is very much a flawed character mostly puts himself first. On Mars he encounters a number of characters including a green alien race of 12 foot-tall Tharks, as well as a humanoid race in a civil war of their own.
Green martians and interplanetary travel aside, I really hope that audiences give the movie a try. Science fiction doesn’t usually have a very wide appeal, but this movie really has a lot going for it. And with Disney behind the movie, it’s been created with an aim for mass market appeal. It’s rated PG-13 and about on-par with the Pirates of the Caribbean series’ later movies when it comes to violence and gore. So, for the most part the action is benign. If you’re considering taking your kids, there is some blood, but it’s blue and green alien blood for the most part. There are plenty of comedic moments mixed into the exciting action sequences and it basically follows the formula of your typical summer blockbuster although it’s got a March release date.
Overall, the acting was good. For the most part I believed the actors and the characters’ motivations all made sense. The story telling was a bit of weak spot at times, but that was likely an adaptation issue as they had to boil down the source material into 132 minutes. There’s also what felt like a lengthy, although necessary, lull in the action while more of the back story was revealed. I could almost feel the sci-fi-averse people sighing and shifting in their seats. For a decent stretch, the requisite silly creature’s comic relief and the frenetic action sequences were nowhere to be found. I had no problem with the pacing as I was really into the story, but the shift was definitely noticeable to me. Of course the story picked back up and delivered an exciting final act.
The action and special effects were both very well done. The movie’s wide range of creatures, high-flying action scenes, and fight sequences were great. John Carter may be an interesting test for an unknown mostly sci-fi-based movie property. I’m a fan of the genre, so I may have enjoyed it more than the average movie-goer might. On the other hand, it is very well-made, and a pretty fun overall. So again, I hope audiences give it a try. I enjoyed John Carter and it made me want to check out the source material to learn more about this influential series and Carter’s other adventures. It’s a fine blockbuster-worthy movie and I hope that it does well.
I received complimentary tickets to view the pre-screening of John Carter. This in no way impacted my opinion of the movie, all opinions expressed above are my honest opinions, yours may vary.