Saturday 30 June 2012

Today's Review: John Carter

I wasn't too sure what to think about this movie when it was first announced. It was put across as something pretty epic that had taken a long time to be adapted (100 years, woah!), but there really wasn't all that much publicity. Some say that was its downfall. Others say it was just a bit of a crappy movie.

John Carter follows the adventures of John Carter, surprisingly. He's just an army captain caught up in the American Civil War, but he doesn't want to kill dudes, he wants to go hunting for a cave of gold. After being detained by Bryan Cranston for a while (second strange bit part in as many weeks), he finds said mysterious cave, but also gets ahold of a mysterious amulet that transports him to Mars. Except it's not really called Mars, it's called Barsoom, and it's inhabited by a strange four armed deadly tribe of aliens, who decide to take him in because he can jump real high thanks to the change in gravity.

But Barsoom is under threat from an ongoing war between the cities of Helium and Zodanga, populated by humans who have redder skin, because they're on Mars I guess, and they needed to make John look pasty so they could label him as an outsider. Well, naturally, John becomes embroiled in the fight, especially since a hot princess is involved, and things just escalate from there.

Yes, that's quite a lot of plot points there, and I didn't really cover everything. There are several quite interesting threads going on at any time, but that also means there is a lot to explain and introduce the audience to, and despite John Carter being over two hours long it still feels like it's lacking some important plot points. There are some flashback scenes in particular that seem to be just thrown in, with no real explanation given. Perhaps they're to be explored more in a sequel, but Carter seemed pretty over it by the end of this movie.

Not only is there a somewhat complex plot to get your head round, there's a whole bunch of weirdly named stuff. Thankfully John Carter is just as clueless about it as we are, and utters every strangely named thing like he's Matt Damon from Team America. Yeah, Carter's southern drawl was certainly one of the biggest things that put me off the character, but I must admit he grew on me as the movie went on.

In fact, I was going in expecting to hate it, and probably willing myself to a little as well, and despite it certainly starting in somewhat mediocre fantasy action hero ways I really started to enjoy myself towards the end, especially as the action really stepped up and delivered some pretty epic battle scenes. It's just a shame that there was so much to explain first, and even more so that they still didn't manage to cram everything in. The first half of the movie seems quite rushed, but the potential really comes through in the final scenes, and shows what Andrew Stanton would really have in mind for sequels.

It's unlikely we'll get one though, this movie didn't make nearly as much profit as expected. I would totally watch a sequel though, now most of the exposition is out of the way they really have a chance to let it shine. So c'mon Disney, I know you've got the money. Sure, the first movie was a bit cheesy, and the pacing was a bit off, but this is Andrew Stanton we're talking about. He gave us Finding Nemo and Wall-E, I'm sure he can pull off a few more good movies with this series.

My rating: 4/5

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