Ror Reviews: JOHN CARTER 3D

Andrew Stanton's first foray into live action has pretty much divided critics right down the middle, and us here on CBM too. Which side of the fence do I fall? Click to find out..

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By Mark "RorMachine" Cassidy - 3/10/2012
I'll be honest, I really wasn't expecting too much from the ol JC. The first "My Body Is A Cage" scored trailer piqued my interest, but every trailer since just made the movie seem like any other generic sci-fi actioner. Then the reviews hit and while many were positive, the ones that weren't singled out things that would usually turn me right off pretty much any movie. I don't allow critics to make up my mind for me, but bad reviews AND my own initial reservations meant my expectations were fairly low. And that could be one of the reasons I enjoyed the Helium out of it.



The story is pretty simple - John Carter winds up on Mars, meets aliens, falls for a Princess, has a change of heart about fighting for a cause, and fights for a cause. No, you won't be racing to keep up with the twists and turns in this one. But not every great story needs to be a complex one. And just because a movie's message might be viewed as simplistic, doesn't make it any less important. John Carter is a throwback to a simpler (more innocent?) age of movie-making, and in many ways is all the better for it. Although the source novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs (which I have not read incidentally) is basically the Grand Daddy of all science-fiction, the movie adaptation is not. And just because this story may predate Star Wars, Avatar and all of the other movies people will compare this to, the cold hard fact is that we have seen much of what happens in John Carter many times before. This didn't bother me too much though, because for me this type of movie lives or dies based on whether I care about what's happening to the characters involved, and I did. You could argue that John Carter himself is just a generic "hero" archetype with not much else to him, and that might be true..but at least he's a likable one. He's not an anti-hero, he's not particularly ruthless which may stop him from seeming "cool" to some. But sometimes all you need to get behind a guy is knowing he'll jump in to defend a helpless dog when it's being kicked.

Taylor Kitsch makes up for what he lacks in range with a strong screen presence, and a few dodgy moment aside (all of which can be attributed to the script, more on that later) he does a pretty good job overall. Better again is Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, delivering by far the best performance. If Thoris failed to gain our sympathies, the story wouldn't have worked. But Collins ensures she does that and much more, getting her hands - or blade - dirty along with everyone else. It probably doesn't hurt that she is a smokin hottie either of course. The next major supporting character is Thars Tarkas. He's a brilliant creation, brought expertly to life by Willem Dafoe and some outstanding CGI. And of course, there is Woola. This little pet/sidekick worried me the most when I saw the trailers, I thought we might have another Jar Jar on our hands. Fortunately, we do not - at all! Woola is a blast and works as comic relief while also tugging at your heartstrings with his cuteness and bravery. But where the movie really falls down character wise is its lack of a villain. I mean there ARE two of them in Mark Strong and Dominic West, but although both men deliver solid performances, they don't have enough to do to make us really hate - or love to hate them , and that doesn't make for a good villain. Still, Carter and his pals come up against plenty of trouble in the form of a nastier tribe of Tharks and some giant White Apes. Both leading to the action highlights of the movie. Indeed, the sequence in which Carter cuts down dozens of Tharks while flashing back to his family is quite brilliant.

Unfortunately John Carter does fall foul to what seem to have become some unwelcome staples of movies of this type: Quite a bit of cheesiness and an at times woeful script. I admit I did roll my eyes once or twice, but I had a smile on my face while I did it. Because although a few of the one-liners bomb, and towards the end the "Disney" really creeps in, Stanton and co ensure you are having too much fun to really care. A lot has been made about how expensive the movie is too, I'm not sure I really understand the problem. So maybe it doesn't quite reflect the amount of millions it cost, it delivers where it counts, and where so many other big special effects driven movies fail - it has heart, and a real sense of adventure. I'd happily see more cash spent this way than on another cynical, soulless piece of garbage from the likes of Michael Bay.

Not high art by any means, but a very enjoyable experience overall. John Carter currently sits at exactly 50% on Rotten Tomatoes, so that pretty much sums it up. I think this movie is either going to hook you right from the start, a few bumps aside, or leave you nodding off. If you are a fan of sci-fi and old school adventure movies with a bit of romance that actually works (I must be going soft in my old age!) I recommend you go find out for yourself. I had a big dopey grin on my Chevy Chase leaving the cinema anyway.











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RorMachine - 3/10/2012, 6:50 PM
Oh yeah, the 3D conversion was a 3D conversion. I don't even notice how one differs from the other anymore, skip it. The only reason I didn't this time is because no 2D showings suited us.
bleedthefreak - 3/10/2012, 7:03 PM
I loved it, thought it was the only top notch sci-fi movie in several years. people bring up avatar when trashing this film (the REAL over long trash sci-fi flick), but so much of it blatantly stole from Burroughs work; at least George Lucas always gave proper credit for what he borrowed from him. this film is mainly for people who already love sci-fi epics, people who don't love or even like them would do well to avoid this until it is on tv or something.
JerBear - 3/10/2012, 7:07 PM
@bleedthefreak
You seen Serenity? That was some top notch sci-fi, although it came out 7 years ago so I guess that counts as several years.
grady3183 - 3/10/2012, 7:07 PM
I found it to be exactly what they were advertising it as....a fun sci-fi action flick. Perfect movie to watch to escape reality for 2 hours
DCwanabe - 3/10/2012, 7:08 PM
Awesome I loved the movie as well. The only thing I felt needed to be changed was the centurion look it was too human I would have preffered some sort of alien cloth garnment, the corny romans in space thing was the only part I did not like. Loved woola.

I see what your saying about the villains but I enjoyed being thrown into a world that is still vague in my mind they did not spell everything out. It was just fun.
bleedthefreak - 3/10/2012, 7:12 PM
@jerbear that is one of my favorite flicks, loved firefly too. I meant within a range of like now and 2008ish. Though if you count cbms as Sci-fi movies the list bumps up quite a bit too from the likes of Thor and Iron Man(sci-fi? not sure really).
GUNSMITH - 3/10/2012, 7:15 PM
I LOVED IT..COLLINS SHOULD PLAY WONDER WOMAN
xXkryptoniteXx - 3/10/2012, 7:16 PM
This movie is better on 2D, I have my 3D HDTV but I still prefer 2D experience because glasses are very annoying and you lose the picture quality. I agree with your review, it isn't the best movie but if you compare to last years early blockbuster movies this is a great start for the year. The movie is a well blend of old sci-fi fantasy, and it reminds me of Conan barbarian meets flash gordon and star wars, a very interesting take and it has it's little fun jokes since it is a Disney movie. I well buy this and add it to my Blu ray collection.
95 - 3/10/2012, 7:17 PM
I really liked it. Woola was a great character. Ciaran Hinds irritated me a little. 3D, to me, was one of the better conversions- thought it brought out just how large the scope of events were. Problem: strived too hard to be a "Part One". Which Green Lantern committed last year. Yeah, not a good idea. Really hope they can make a franchise out of John Carter though!

B+

Agree with most of what you said @RorMachine and @bleedthefreak.
95 - 3/10/2012, 7:20 PM
Since most of film was during the daytime, scenes were bright, and with 3D on top of that I was glad to watch a conversion that wasn't dim. That's just my opinion. Barsoom looked great in 3D! Added, um, I guess you could say, texture.
xXkryptoniteXx - 3/10/2012, 7:21 PM
@bleedthefreak

I agree, I love sci-fi/fantasy and this did it for me. Good thing I didn't watch all the trailers and read on everything about it because it well take out the experience when you go watch it.

@ror good review man, I did t care what people said about the movie because I like what I like and don't want anyone to go say what to watch if they don't like it or agree, so Ill go watch it if it interest me, and this did.
MrBlueSky - 3/10/2012, 7:27 PM
Damn good film. Was worth the money.
alucard365 - 3/10/2012, 7:28 PM
[frick] Yeah Lynn Collins is from my Neighborhood, other then that i found this film boring.
shroud - 3/10/2012, 7:32 PM
it was a good movie a 3 or 3 1/2 out of 5 . not as bad as they made it seem , saw it in 2D .
Bandrews1 - 3/10/2012, 7:32 PM
Great review. I saw it last night and I thought it was amazing and I was really into it, but I agree that Mark Strong and Dominic West didn't really come off as great or really likable villains, (not saying that they gave bad performances or anything) but you would think that they should have since they've both played really great villains in the past. But I do hope a lot of ppl give it a chance, because it deserves a lot more than its getting.
bleedthefreak - 3/10/2012, 7:44 PM
VIRGINIA....JUMP!
headlopper - 3/10/2012, 7:56 PM
A little nit-picky, but fair enough.
And your absolutely right- this movie has heart!
Go see it people, you'll enjoy yourselves!

I think it's a great film! Solid entertainment.
ForceOfLegend - 3/10/2012, 8:00 PM
Fantastic movie! I think people just want to "hate" a movie to be "cool". I hope it brings in enough cash to justify more entries into the series. I would give it a 8.5 out of 10.
thewolfx - 3/10/2012, 8:03 PM
i still dont see how john has superstrength , can breath on mars and jump super high

but i havent seen the movie yet so ..
militantcharles - 3/10/2012, 8:07 PM
@Gunsmith I couldn't agree more if any movie proves that statement it would be John carter.
headlopper - 3/10/2012, 8:09 PM
@ForceOfLegend- I agree with you. Particularly about people trying to seem 'cool' by feigning dislike. Pathetic.
Nick56 - 3/10/2012, 8:12 PM
I enjoyed the film, sure it was flawed but it was still entertaining.
RorMachine - 3/10/2012, 8:14 PM
Cheers guys..but I really don't think people are pretending they dislike. Seriously, who does that and for what reason? As much as I enjoyed this I can see why some wouldn't. I'm a big enough sci-fi/fantasy fan to let a few things slide that maybe someone who wasn't as into the genre wouldn't. I mean there WERE a few silly bits in fairness!
Ranger14 - 3/10/2012, 8:56 PM
"Cheers guys..but I really don't think people are pretending they dislike. Seriously, who does that and for what reason?"

I have to question those who make a simple generic statement like "it's boring". I sometimes even wonder if they watched the film. I am not referring to everyone who does so, but I do think there are those that fall under that category.

Explain what you found boring so we can better understand. I didn't care that much for MI3. Whenever I commented on the film I went into a fairly decent explanation of why I found it to fall flat. I think some people just like to be negative,
misterwizz - 3/10/2012, 9:12 PM

Um most of the reviews I read on here were positive. The only one I could find negative was from Josh Wilding.
LtAnarchy - 3/10/2012, 9:28 PM
I Loved this show. I dont know what all the hate is for it on RT. I liked it way more than Avatar. Avatar is so long and boring.
ForceOfLegend - 3/10/2012, 9:51 PM
@ Ror well people are strange man! I find some people like to be negative for whatever reason...Maybe their parents didn't give them enough attention. So being negative "grants" them that much desired attention. Like Ranger14 said. If some just says "sucked!, or boring!" then those are the "attention deprived" if someone gives a honest review, and gives valid points as to their dislike, or like of the said film. Then I am cool with that.
Emjeed - 3/10/2012, 9:57 PM
i personally liked this movie.. just saw it a couple of hours ago. The story ans how it all played out really stays true to the core of the "A princess of Mars" book, and i was really happy with how it ends.. its beautifully sets you up for more. I really hope they will make enough money for a sequel. fingers crossed
AlienRobotZombieOverlord - 3/10/2012, 10:00 PM
Dead on review, Ror. I think it was marketed horribly and should have probably been a summer movie. But really I just think a lot of critics were lazy. A meme started about how it would bomb, and everyone mindlessly bought into it. Yes, it's not for everyone - you have to be able to appreciate both slower dramas and high-adventure sci-fi, and some people only like one or the other. But if you're willing to give the story a chance to unfold, you'll be rewarded. In the theater I went to, three older people left mid-way through it. Just walked out. I was stunned. What did they think they were getting? That just shows me how bad the marketing was. Everyone else clapped at the end, though.
NubaX - 3/10/2012, 10:20 PM
The PROBLEM with the movie is the LEAD ACTOR! His body looks WEAK. Effects maybe great, Story may be good, but the Main Hero's body is just WEAK!

LOOK at the COMIC!
Strong Body Build!

john carter of mars Pictures, Images and Photos

John Carter of Mars Pictures, Images and Photos

Now Look at him:

Photobucket

I mean, he's in like good Regular Guy Shape but not...SUPERHERO, MANLY MAN SHAPE.

It's like that last Superman Movie (Which I did NOT watch cus he looked too WEAK for me)

His body has to be TIGHT to have that certain Appeal to attract the masses and he doesn't. It's really a bigger deal then you all think because hey...he's the MAIN CHARACTER.
It just comes across as not believable even for a fantasy flick. Just another Clash Of The Titans to those who aren't familiar with the origin of this film.
Ryguy88 - 3/10/2012, 10:21 PM
ricodetroit, I really don't think professional critics would choose to dislike a movie because of some joke going around the internet.

I'm gonna give this movie a shot, though I tend to never like these kind of movies. I tried out every Pirates movie and each one I nodded off a bit in. Same with Transformers, Cowboys Vs. Aliens and any other generic looking Sci/fi...yet I always think 'maybe this one will be different.' I hope its at least engaging enough to care.
Ryguy88 - 3/10/2012, 10:23 PM
Nubax, I guess there were no body builders available to pose as actors...Did you seriously not watch a movie because the lead looked too weak? wow!
NubaX - 3/10/2012, 10:29 PM
It would've been better if the movie wasn't done my Disney.

THe Woman's clothing didn't have the same Martian feel like the Comic. Heck, John's clothing isn't quit as barbaric as the comic. He's suppose to have those Loin Drawls on, his Belt that holds his sword, and his Boots.

I mean, you can tell that disney was a bit too worried about the whole PG rating. It doesn't have to be R rated and Gory but you could push the limts a bit more with the PG13 rating.

We need the directors of the 80's and 90's that Gave us all the great Conan, Blade Runner, Total Recall etc. Mindless Action Scifi Action Feel.
NubaX - 3/10/2012, 10:53 PM
@ Ryguy88

YEP...

That's Right!

I did NOT see Superman. He looked too WEAK! Turns out I made the right decision and many others agreed with me. HE WAS WEAK.


Im still seeing the John Carter Movie. But I already had a feeling it wouldn't live up to the HYPE of expectation at the box office because of his Body for one.

It's just Not Reeally believable nor is it setting itself far apart from Clash of The Titans, etc.

Two, The Clothing should've been more like the comics and less about worrying about covering up too much skin. I mean, make it look like the Woman in the Comic.

Three, In the Trailers, I probably would've mentioned the summery of the trailer, of him appearing to die, opening his eyes and his body projecting to Mars and show the Change in his Body into a Muscular Build. Kinda like how they did with Captain America where we saw in the trailer him going from puny, to Super Strong.

The Movie is Good Moive that Could've been GREAT.
tqb - 3/10/2012, 11:46 PM
@Nubax I'm pretty sure the guy got in pretty decent shape for the role. Sure its not the same stereotypical bodybuilder build but he's pretty jacked.
ForceOfLegend - 3/10/2012, 11:53 PM
@NubaX I can see part of your statement...However. One can look at it like this. John Carter is from the late 1800's is he not? I don't believe men back then looked like Body builders. He was portrayed as a Ex Civil War Captain. So his build was good for what the character required.

I can't really defend Superman Returns. Brandon Routh did put on a lot of weight to play the part. I believe he packed on about 30 lbs to play the character. Christopher Reeve didn't have that impressive of a build when he played Superman, but everyone still loves him for that role! He put on weight, but didn't look anything like the muscle that Henry Cavil has gained for the same part.

In short it is a bit shallow to not see a movie based on that alone. However everyone's taste is different. :/
texasraven - 3/11/2012, 12:05 AM
Is Nubax a chick? taylor kitch isnt the greatest actor, or biggest dude, but he was pretty ripped in the movie. this isnt Conan, even tho some comics and book covers made it seem that way. its a different story and vibe and more down to earth... or mars. the effects in this movie were amazing, disney did a great job producing this and ill go see the sequal if it gets made.
Ceejay - 3/11/2012, 12:06 AM
@@Nubax - Man are you brainwashed! People from the 1800's don't look like comic book body builders.. Comic Artists and Fantasy Artists have a homoerotic love for the male human body that blows everything they depict out of proportion and common sense. You're displaying exactly that with your statements!

John Carter in the book is not described as anything other than a normal man, what makes him exceptional is that he's from Earth so because of our higher gravity his body density allows him to preform extraordinary leaps and feats of strength on Mars's lower gravity environment.

HE DOES NOT NEED HUGE MUSCLES!!
amxt - 3/11/2012, 12:15 AM
The whole Thurn thing felt alot like the Sith in Star Wars Episode One. If SWE1 had come out without the first 3 Star Wars movies before it, it would have been more of a mess because it did nothing to establish the Sith, Jedi , Federation or other factions. John Carter is injected into four different factions at play then the goal is for us to figure out how they connect. Yes, it was too heavily working on establishing a position for a second movie, at the cost of the first.
Like Speed Racer and the Golden Compass before it, it may fail to produce a sequel.
TheRationalOne - 3/11/2012, 12:18 AM
You think the movie looks bad because the actor isn't as big as the comic character? Well then you better stay far away from Avengers, Thor, The Dark Knight Rises, Man Of Steel, and any other comic book movie that is or ever will come out. It's just an unrealistic requirement. Comics are exaggerated and drawn to be larger than life. And I'll be damned if we start getting all wrestlers and bodybuilders turned actors just to satisfy your body type expectations.

I'll take a good actor (Tom Hardy) playing a smaller version of a character (Bane) over a big dumb crappy actor who "LOOKS the part" any day.
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