Disney’s live-action sic-fi flick, John Carter, has been one of the most heavily marketed films of the past few months. It’s clear the studio wanted to build the hype around the film’s release, but now that it has hit theaters, is it worth the hype? In short, no. John Carter is, at its best, cheesy fun, and at its worst, a film that suffers from bad acting, a highly derivative plot, and a poor script.
John Carter is a Confederate soldier who is mystically transported to Mars after coming across a strange object. He soon comes across a race of aliens known as Tharks, and is quickly captured. While living with the Tharks, Carter learns that Mars is dying because of a bloody conflict between Zodanga and Helium, two civilizations native to Mars. Carter must find a way to end the war and restore peace to Mars before it is too late.
Taylor Kitsch plays the titular role, but he doesn’t do much. And sadly, he doesn’t need to.He appears bored most of the time, and his performance, while pivotal to making the film believable, brings nothing to the movie and fails to make an impact on audiences. But John Carter as a character is one-dimensional and uninteresting, so perhaps Kitsch plays his role as he is supposed to. He is not given much to work with. Lynn Collins plays Princess Dejah Thoris, and her performance is by far the most genuine. Audiences will either connect with her or Tars Tarkas, a Thark warrior played by Willem Dafoe. Tarkas is one of the most interesting characters in the movie, and there seems to be more to him that the movie didn’t touch on enough. Mark Strong portrays the villainous Matai Shang, who turns out to be one of the most boring villains in film history. Strong’s performance is stiff and unconvincing, and will leave many viewers wishing the film had a more engaging antagonist.
The plot is an idea we’ve all seen before, but in this case it leaves a lot to be desired. Some aspects of the story are not explained clearly enough, such as the story surrounding Tars Tarkas and his rebellious daughter, Sola. The plot begins strongly, but as the movie progresses it seems to lose its way. It appears to make things up as it goes along, and a seasoned moviegoer should pick up on this fairly quickly.The film stumbles in the second act, and what would have been a strong ending turns into an unsatisfying, somewhat disappointing one. Also, the script could have been so much better. The dialogue is corny and fails to connect audiences to the characters.
Those flaws aside, the film boasts dazzling special effects and great action sequences, which goes a long way in pleasing younger viewers. However, older audiences need a little more than just flashy effects and cool sword fights to be satisfied. This film, while it contains some adult language and themes, will mainly please children and pre-teens.
John Carter, while it has incredible special effects and exciting battle scenes, is nothing more than a cheesy popcorn flick for the incredibly bored.
2.5 out of 5 stars