Except the times I watched Atlantis, Avatar, Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time, Pocahontas…is it a coincidence that Disney was behind 3 out of the 4 I mentioned? As well as John Carter itself? Nope. There are probably loads more titles I could roll off, but I can’t be bothered.
What makes this one stand out from the rest? Well. Nothing much actually. I’m getting tired of these white-man-goes-to-a-strange-land,-champions-the-natives-and-bangs-the-resident-hot-chick templates. It’s been done to death, resurrected and then done to death again. What makes it worse than its predecessors is a distinct laziness on the part of its director (Andrew Stanton). It wasn’t just enough for him to construct an entire feature-length out of textbooks, he couldn’t even be arsed to patch up any of its plot-holes or add any kind of originality to it. Unless you count an oversized white six-limbed ape as originality, although I’m certain you’ll find that somewhere else too. Maybe throwing Mark Strong in there counts; I don’t think anyone’s done that before…oh wait.
I also feel that too much was made of the titular character’s obsession with being a maverick. It’s a trait that was already established in the first act; we didn’t need the constant reminders in front of our faces throughout the entirety of the movie. More than anything, it underminded Taylor Kitsch‘s performance, making the character a tiresome one. There was too much imbalance to his abilities as well, making his easily-concluded fight scenes especially silly. While the John Carter character in this sense reminds me a lot of Sam Worthington in Avatar, Worthington’s (while not exactly a hallmark in development) looked a lot better simply because he was held back more.
On the whole, this has been an exceptionally lame effort by Disney and Andrew Stanton to create and tout an epic adventure film. Y’know what, I don’t regret watching it in IMAX, for the special effects were rendered beautifully. The cast couldn’t be faulted for very much either. I don’t regret having paid money to see it, but given Stanton’s failure to add any spirit to what would’ve otherwise been a very decent weekend movie, I do regret having coughed up that inflated IMAX ticket price. More tellingly, I regret that movies like this – brimming with all the toppings but devoid of good-quality meat – are allowed to pass. It’s robbery, and it’s ominous.
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producers: Jim Morris, Colin Wilson & Lindsey Collins
Screenwriters: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews & Michael Chabon
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Dominic West, Mark Strong, Samantha Morton, James Purefoy