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RATING: 3 (Out of 5 Reels)

Yet again, I had no real expectations going into this film other than hoping for an entertaining film. This film does deliver to some degree. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a civil war veteran gets inadvertently transported to Mars which he finds is inhabited by tall barbarians and is soon captured by them. He then escapes and encounters Dejah Thoris, a princess (Lynn Collins) who is in need of a hero.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Ciaran Hinds as Tardos Mors and James Purefoy as Kantos Kan who are British actors I adore. Otherwise, the acting in this film is adequate and I found the plot line to be sound. I thought it was a bit too long though. Since overall the story is basically nothing new I thought it dragged a bit and wish it were half an hour short off its two hour length. I also found the costumes to be a bit strange. Don’t get me wrong; I enjoy seeing something different but thought these costumes were only trying to be different but didn’t work completely. Hinds costume made him look large in his mid-section. I won’t even mention Thoris’ wedding gown, if you could call it that, the usual eye candy for the men.

Though I saw this film in 3D, I found it to be lacking in that department and wholly unnecessary. Other than that, I have nothing bad to say about the special effects in this film.

All in all, this film is not too bad but I wouldn’t recommend paying full price. I think it is worth seeing as a matinee.



Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton has either received Oscar nominations or earned the Academy Award® since 1996 for his work on ‘Toy Story,’ Finding Nemo’ and ‘WALL•E.’ and is a screenwriter of Pixar films ‘A Bug’s Life,’ ‘Toy Story 2,’ and ‘Monsters, Inc.’ Stanton directed ‘John Carter’ and co-wrote the screenplay with Mark Andrews and Pulitzer Prize winner in Literature, Michael Chabon. ‘John Carter’ is nowhere near the same type of film, nor as fun, as the aforementioned films with which Stanton has been credited. Hopefully audiences have seen enough trailers of ‘John Carter’ to know it is not an animated film. The film has its good and bad moments, but I do not see it destined to receive the same recognition that Stanton has enjoyed in the past.

The action-adventure film ‘John Carter’ is based on a classic, Edgar Rice Burroughs first novel, “A Princess of Mars.” War-weary and defiant former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) discovers treasures in a cave, but he does not get to enjoy them. An encounter with a “being” lands him on Barsoom [Mars] and finds he is unable to walk as we know it. Some of those scenes are certainly funny as he makes multiple attempts, landing on his face or leaping.

The last thing Carter wants is more conflict, but it is what he is destined to do after landing there. The fight for dominance of one set of humanoid inhabitants over another is similar to what we see on Earth, but Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) does not want her community to collapse or be eliminated.

Amongst the inhabitants of the planet are multiple limbed green creatures led by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) who attempts to form an alliance with Carter from Virginia upon his arrival. Some of those scenes are humorous too at the beginning as he is trying to communicate. Carter uses his new found skills on Mars with his old school military training when he decides to take up the cause for the survival of Barsoom and its people.

The PG-13 137 minute film is entertaining to a degree, but there are some scenes that simply do not make sense at times. I am a bit baffled by the ultra manipulating being played by Mark Strong and his crew. A couple of them seem to have human aspects and die, yet Strong’s character just seems to disappear in thin air and mutate into other characters. It became too confusing, so I lost interest. Carter does not know what an aircraft is on Earth, yet he manages to fly one on Mars with no training? Sure!

I do have to say I did enjoy the music in the film by award-winning composer Michael Giacchino who has received numerous accolades for his work on previous Disney•Pixar films, including ‘Up’ (Oscar® winner, Best Original Score; BAFTA winner, Best Music; Golden Globe® winner, Best Original Score for a Motion Picture; GRAMMY® Award winner, Best Score Soundtrack Album), ‘Ratatouille’ (GRAMMY Award winner, Best Score Soundtrack Album; Annie Award winner, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production; Oscar nomination, Best Original Score) and ‘The Incredibles’ (Annie Award winner, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production; GRAMMY nomination, Best Score Soundtrack Album).

This is a good family film to enjoy as a matinee. Although it is in 3D for unexplained reasons, this will cost families more to view it and unnecessarily so in my opinion.


RATING: 2.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Yesterday as I pondered writing this review and what I would say about this film, it occurred to me that perhaps I should write this review as a “Dear John” letter. After seeing the trailers, promos, and a ten minute clip, in addition to some of the positive buzz circulating, I ended up leaving this movie a bit disappointed. As exciting and interesting as this movie premise sounds, I let my anticipation get the best of me and ultimately set myself up for a bit of a let down. Honestly, this film really frustrated me. I would compare this film experience to any promising relationship one has had, along with the good times only to be let down and disappointed with all of the not so great times, ultimately ending with a break-up. Despite the enjoyment I found in some genuinely awesome and fun sequences, the writing and acting just didn’t cut it throughout most of the movie. So I have no choice, but to give this film a not so great review as I think I and other movie loving audiences deserve better.

Based on the stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, writer/director Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, FINDING NEMO) and co-writers Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon adapt this influential science fiction universe for the big screen. Civil War veteran John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) discovers a teleportation device that sends him directly to Mars, or Barsoom, as the natives call it. He is taken captive by the Tharks, a tribe of tall, six-limbed green Martians. Because gravity has a weaker pull than on Earth, Carter has increased strength and agility. These skills amaze Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), a native who eventually befriends John. Carter and the Tharks very reluctantly get caught up in a war between two groups of red humanoid Martians. Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) of Helium begs for Carter’s help to end the war which threatens to enslave her people and possibly all natives of the entire planet.

The script by Stanton, Andrews, and Chabon is the main weakness of this film. The writers ambitiously attempt to cover too much ground in this movie. In doing so, loads of foreign species, peoples, characters, and scenarios are quickly presented at an almost dizzying rate which makes this movie difficult to follow sometimes. Fans of the original Burroughs’ stories will probably catch and understand most of the references and will certainly have a greater understanding of the film as a whole. However, for the uninitiated like me, this mass presentation of information is a lot to digest at once. I feel that in their ambition to cover much ground, Stanton and his writers lose much of the heart of the story in their translation. A more carefully crafted script would have saved some of the characters and material for any subsequent installments. In addition to the information overload, the dialogue is just downright silly and corny though most of the picture. I honestly don’t know how the cast could deliver some of these lines with straight faces.

Perhaps that is why the acting suffers. The entire cast delivers performances which range from corny and hammy to dull and uninteresting. Taylor Kitsch has an undeniable screen presence, but delivers an uneven performance. Sometimes overplayed, sometimes underplayed, Kitsch’s range in this film literally covers the entire spectrum which I used to describe the entire cast. Lynn Collins offers a suitable turn as the Princess, but really doesn’t bring anything interesting to an already uninteresting character. I enjoyed most of the scenes with Willem Dafoe voicing Tars Tarkas, but even he has a few scenes where his voice work feels overly done. The cast also includes such talents as Mark Strong (Matai Shang), Ciaran Hinds (Tardos Mors), Dominic West (Sab Than), and James Purefoy (Kantos Kan) who have their mixed share of fine moments as well as dreadful ones.

Now one might inquire at this point about what exactly I do like about this movie. First of all, the movie is visually stunning. The design and effects look spectacular. As for the use of 3D, I found it to be highly unnecessary as it added nothing special to the experience. The writing in the movie does have its high points when it comes to humor. The jokes work and kept me entertained. The action sequences are a blast. I had so much more fun when the actors stopped speaking and started fighting. I wanted more action and less annoying discussion and poorly written exposition. The motivation of the main villains in the story also raises a few questions.

So, as most movies today, my main criticism has to do with writing. The often irritating dialogue, along with the poor development of the story and characters really took away from the enjoyment. The unnecessarily lengthy runtime of the film is another indicator that Stanton and his writers tried to accomplish too much in one movie. I am curious if this movie will spawn more installments. If so, I really hope the producers take substantial care in crafting a much more solid script and should perhaps hire a better director to get stronger performances from the otherwise talented cast. I cannot recommend spending full price to see this movie. If one must see in the theater, pay for an afternoon ticket and don’t even bother with 3-D or IMAX prices. Dear John, I enjoyed some laughs and some fun times, but really, we deserve better.