Movie Review: John Carter

I had wanted to go see John Carter when it was in theaters, but I never had the chance to. I’d heard a lot about it. You probably had, too. The big Disney sci-fi flop. Huge budget, tanked at the box office. Of course, I’d also heard that it had been mis-marketed. That it wasn’t nearly as bad as people said it was.

So I was skeptical and curious to see what I’d think about it.

Honestly, I can see both sides of this. On the one hand, the movie tried to bite off more than it could reasonably chew. There wasn’t enough time devoted to character building, but if they’d devoted an adequate amount of time to that, then they wouldn’t have had enough left over to cover the whole plot. And what a wide-ranging plot it was: man from the civil war gets transported to Mars and thrown into another war, where he discovers that the lower gravity on Mars essentially makes him a Superman for their planet.

The effects were fantastic, the acting was passable, the story was rushed in places, but suitably epic. In the end, I’d have to come down on the side of liking the movie a fair bit. Three stars, even. I think I would have liked it even more if they’d gone whole hog on the presentation. Give me three hours of this, and you might have a home run. (Then again, there’s a chance that three hours of it would have left me yawning incessantly, so who knows . . .)

I do think that it was mis-marketed. The television commercials made it seem more pulp sci-fi actiony, whereas I think it was going for more of the sci-fi version of Lord of the Rings. The problem, in the end, was that it really did try to do both at the same time. Mainly LotR, but the lite-version. I don’t think lite LotR really works. You need to be really committed to pull of something like that. I’m not sure who wasn’t committed in this case. My gut tells me it was the producers. In any case, it’s unfortunate. There’s a lot to be said for this universe, and now that it has the anathema of Huge Hollywood Flop, we’ll likely never get to see it.

Check this one out if you haven’t already. It’s worth a few hours of your life.

Or am I off base? Have you seen it already? What did you think?

3 thoughts on “Movie Review: John Carter”

  1. I recently saw this movie on Redbox. Really enjoyed it. I agree that it seemed rushed in places, but the visuals were rich and the plot twist at the very end left me cheering. Definitely worth more than what I paid to see it.

  2. Not sure if you’ve read the books, but they’ve turned out to be some of my all-time favorites–surprisingly. The lack of character development is consistent with the books. I do wish they would have tried to stick with just one book’s story instead of cramming in multiple books into one movie. That’s probably why it ended up feeling crammed.

    Overall though, I really liked the movie.

Leave a comment