Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Bryan Cranston, Mark Strong, Lynn Collins, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, Willem Dafoe, James Purefoy, Samantha Morton
Synopsis: Born in Virginia and a veteran of the Civil War, John Carter is an honourable and courageous man. However, the war left him dispirited and broken. Accidentally transported to the planet of Barsoom, he soon finds his strength and jumping abilities greatly amplified. He must use these newfound powers to survive the centuries-old war between the native inhabitants and save this dying world.
Review: ‘John Carter 3D’ is based on the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative tales of folklore served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. His immortal characters like ‘Tarzan’, ‘The Cave Girl’ and several others have been carried on to the silver screen numerous times.
‘John Carter’, is one such character in Burrough’s magical universe of enchanting women and beefed up men. Though not as well known as the similarly clad Tarzan, John Carter has been a long-running cult hero from Rice’s ‘Barsoom’ series from the early 20th century. One that can almost rival his aforementioned counterpart.
Let’s keep in mind that the movie adaption of John Carter comes to us in 2012. A time when 3D is the norm as long as sci-fi cinema is concerned. That being said, Director Andrew Stanton certainly knew what he was getting into. The premise of the film is rather captivating. Our protagonist, John Carter is a former confederate captain who’s seen more than his share of turmoil in the past. He is war-weary, yet doesn’t hesitate from using his prowess in combat to escape threats. When Carter is mysteriously transported to Mars, the pace begins to pick up. There is humor, love, conflict and redemption.
Though he does find that he is now even more agile and lethal due to different gravitational conditions, he also gets reluctantly embroiled in a totally different kind of war. One where three sides, the green and avatar-like Barsoomians, the Helium inhabitants and the cruel prince of Zodonga are hell bent on taking over Barsoom (Mars) for their own respective factions. Amongst all this, he falls in love with the princess of Helium and thus begins the plot of this mammoth Disney production.
With so many elements, you might think that Director Stanton (Wall-E) might even lose the plot. However, credit must be given on how the film blends in various moods and twists to keep the narrative flowing. Also, the film is a great looker. Every aspect of any given frame has a picturesque beauty to it. The battle scenes are also top notch. Really makes you imagine the epic proportion of the ensuing war. There has been no stone left unturned as far as the special effects are concerned.
That being said, the flaw lies not in the story, the effects or even the depiction. It’s the execution that fails John Carter 3D. There are quite a few unnecessary sequences that could have been snipped in the editing room. The opening sequences before Carter’s teleportation to Mars, are a virtual drag. The establishing scenes of him being a good escape artist and a born fighter are a wee bit over the top. Not to mention, how repetitive and eventually annoying the shrill shrieks of the shrek-like Tharks become after the first half.
The acting is stellar but nothing to rave about. This might be the hunky Taylor Kitsch’s big arrival onto the big screen as John Carter, but his acting is almost pale-faced most times. I’d rather watch him on Friday Night Lights. Lynn Collins as the Princess is believable. The starlet makes up with sex appeal, what she lacks in performance. On second thought, the same can be said for Taylor Kitsch. William Dafoe is a legend and proves his versatility yet again. Thomas Haden Church and Dominic West do well as antagonists.
Verdict: All in all, John Carter 3D is Andrew Stanton’s over-the-top version of Tarzan and Avatar combined. It does hit the right note on a number of junctures, but I wouldn’t put my money on it becoming a bankable franchise. Then again, if your kid enjoys wearing those uncomfortably eye-hugging 3D glasses, I reckon you might as well give in to his demands. Although, this movie is enjoyable in its 2D version as well.
Jackie J. Thakkar