Sunday, March 11, 2012

John Carter Review

I saw John Carter today, and here is my review and what i think about it. First, is John Carter a bad movie? Certainly not, but: is it a very good movie? Certainly not, too, and this is where the problem is. There is plenty of great scenes in John Carter, but there is also scenes which are more "B" movie. I wouldn't say that i disliked the film because it was entertaining but some scenes simply doesn't work.

I have to say that i've never read the original novel but from what i've been told by a friend who did the script is quite faithful to it. The only problem is that we're now in the 21th century and not early 20th when the book was written. So, Andrew Stanton, brilliant Pixar director, did a few changes like the martian flying ships which looks more technologically advanced than in the book where they were closer to wooden flying pirate flying ships. And this not a problem. What is a problem is that the people which are in these modern-technologically-advance flying ships are dressed like if they were coming out of a set of a Roman Empire movie. Sort of.

The question of the credibility is also sometime a problem. After all we're on Mars, some of the inhabitants are four arms green martians and others just look like humans (which apparently is also faithful to the original book). I can understand that the green martians would have a different organism than ours, helping them to breathe normally on Mars, but it's a bit more difficult to swallow for the "others" martians, looking like us Same for the hero, John Carter who is teleported from Earth in less time than it takes me to write it. The giant leaps that he is able to do are okay but it's more hard to believe that he can do all these leaps without any ankle sprain during the whole movie! Okay, it's a fantasy movie, but still...

That said some sequences are truly spectacular, and no, it doesn't look too much "Star Wars" - except may be the battle with the white apes in the arena - and not too much "Avatar" either. The western part at the beginning is okay, and i liked also the "Twilight Zone" twist at the end. Actors are good and of course as expected the Mars princess as charming as she can be is not insanely sexy as she looks in the legendary Frank Frazetta paintings. But considering that Disney is the producer, it's a no surprise. That said there is a scene in the second part of the movie which looks very "Frazetta" when John Carter is fighting alone against hundred of "bad" green martians.

According to Box Office Mojo John Carter should make $30M in its opening weekend, certainly less than expected by Disney but as the movie was released worldwide this week the opening week might be not bad. Not sure, though, that John Carter will make more than $250M - the production cost - and i'll also be surprised if there is any sequel - I wouldn't count on it and don't expect too a ride inspired by the movie. If you've planned to watch it, go ahead, there is plenty of good things in John Carter, beginning by Michael Giacchino score, just don't expect the movie of the year because it won't be. But for his first movie Andrew Stanton did a good job. Now, is there any one in the audience who have seen John Carter this week-end? Let us know what you think about it in the comments!

Andrew Stanton also talked recently about story telling in one of the always great TED conferences, and you can watch him in the video below.

Picture: copyright Disney


michel manders said...

i saw it last night with my son(he's 11 years) was good ,not great,but we liked it
sometimes i had to explain things to him...the story can be confusing sometimes.

Hani El-Masri said...

We went to see the movie with a few friends. Twenty minutes into it we couldn't suspend our disbelief any more. And this is when the fun started. We engaged in a little contest: Who would first claim the original movie that "inspired" any particular scene of John Carter... And everything became clear: From Lord of the Rings to Star Wars, Avatar (whose story line is, in turn, suspiciously similar to Pocahontas), Star Trek... Stanton had no shame in lifting entire scenes from well known movies.
We noted that some of the accessories and costumes where nicely designed, some of the scenes well shot, and the visual effects interesting while never surprising. For someone who claims to be a storyteller, Stanton should've known to stick to his narrative and avoid confusing the issues. As George Lukas used to say: No amount of special effects will ever save a bad story (or storytelling for that matter)!

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

I watched it on Friday and agree with you, the movie is not bad, but not great either, and is very far-fetched.

I would also ad the motor bicycle as something very similar to Star Wars.

Certainly they could have made a much better movie with USD 250 million.

Dan O. said...

Despite occasional moments of silliness, the old-fashioned sense of adventure and brilliantly rendered aliens elevate this above other derivative big-budget sci-fi fare. I still wished that Kitsch did a lot better in this lead role but he was only there for eye-candy really. Good review. What also stinks is that this flick probably won’t make back any of its 250 million dollar budget. Give my review a look when you can.