The Disney-produced John Carter, based on “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs written in 1917 (yowza), did not fare as well as expected in the box office this weekend ($30.6 mil domestically on a $250 mil budget) and seems to be getting mediocre (at best) reviews from a lot of other places, but I have to personally say this was a very enjoyable, solid film. Definitely of more quality than a lot of what has been coming out of Hollywood.
John Carter is a Civil War hero that has his own agenda of self-fulfillment… monetarily. He cares not about either side of the war anymore, and certainly puts on a front of dismissal for anyone crossing his path. While on the hunt for his cave of gold, he stumbles across a man in strange clothes that he shoots before he stabs him with a dagger. The man is holding an amulet, mumbling something which John Carter repeats, instantly whisking him away to another place he later discovers is Mars.
As I described to our friends last night, John Carter feels like Star Wars and Avatar had a baby, but it feels like so much more than that once I really started to reflect on it. The world itself was well-crafted and while some of the actors left a bit to be desired (was not a fan of Lynn Collins/Dejah), you still felt the relationships grow and develop in the short time frame of events. Well, mostly. I have a personal qualm about rushed romance but hey, back in the late 1800’s it was do or die (literally, at ~30) so maybe that was much more socially acceptable when the book was first written.
The world is so big and expanse that I feel parts were rushed and chopped together, but I can’t entirely blame that on anyone. There are simply time constraints that must be adhered to, especially because this is a Disney film and younger audiences tend to have a shorter attention span. Hah. I like the design and the overall feel of the aliens but they were just slightly too cliché with the barbaric society and one-mindedness throughout the film. With the world brimming with technology, it just seems they might have inherited or developed a bit more than loincloths and branding people for offenses. While a sequel may or may not be written in the stars due to the initial opening weekend figures, the world alone inspires me to pick up this book and give it a read just to see what I was (or perhaps wasn’t) missing.
Overall, solid storyline even if rushed at some parts. John Carter as a character is pretty a-typical (tragedy, bravery, war hero, etc.) but fits in well enough with the scenario of the movie. Mars (Barsoom) is a great setting and the special effects are well placed without being too cheesy or too overbearing. Plus they call him Virginia for, like, the first half of the movie – a nice bit of comedy with his expressions alone come from that. Kudos to his actor. Truthfully, I feel this is a solid 7.5 but since I don’t want to get into halving points I am forced to give this a 7 because I just can’t quite justify an 8 due to how choppy this film was, whether it was its own fault or not.
Oh, and can I totally say I want her wedding dress? Um, yeah. I do. /end girly moment to go to the gym
Chan’s Rating: 7 out of 10