John Carter

John Carter is the first movie I started reviewing before I watched due to the massive press it got labelling it as a ‘flop!’ The label is because even as I write this two weeks after its release, John Carter has not managed to make back its $250million budget; only grossing about 234 million worldwide, with $62 million of that from the American market.

All the above states are figures upon figures (there’s no way it won’t make 250million worldwide by the way) making me believe that people are watching John Carter through a $250million pair of glasses trying to justify the production budget.  Negative press sure is not making people rush out to watch it, but may I chip this in, so far in 2012, John Carter is the second highest grossing movie worldwide, so you were saying?……

I’m going to try as much as possible to review the movie based on the general review methods I’ve been practicing not considering cost of production as this has not been the case previously.

[toggle title=”Plot/Production“]

Is it just me or do movies adapted from older books tend to have more imaginative plots (Lords of the Rings) than more recent ones (Twilight series).

The book ‘ A Princess of Mars’ from which John Carter adapted was written  exactly 100 years ago and as someone who hasn’t read any of the books, it took me a while to familiarise myself with the characters I was seeing on the screen and how they played into the entire story.  Once that was established I realised that the story I was watching was pretty impressive taking me on a journey into lands previously un-encountered.

The creations of these lands is the reason that John Carter’s budget was so much as high production costs were incurred to fit the worlds portrayed in the book.

Was the production impressive? To portray the message Yes!

 Did it meet people’s expectations? , I really can’t be sure about that.

Did it satisfy me? , if I was to rate it only, I’d give it an 8/10. It felt not overdone to me, just about right to portray people and creatures on another planet and science fiction phenomena without being too unreal and mechanic.[/toggle]

[toggle title=”Cast“]John Carter played by Taylor Kitsch

The first few scenes introduce John Carter as a hard headed no-loyalties civil war captain and generated a couple of hard laughs from the audience but what I saw was a fearless go-getter who grabs life at its heels not anybody decide what he gets out of it except himself.

In all his encounters, 1st being captured on earth, then being chased by local Indians, to being transported to and captured in an unknown place by strange entities, there was hardly a morsel of fear in his actions.

There can be two reactions from the audience to this:

·         Respect and awe or

·         Wonderment and disbelief.  Choose yours?

It was quite a trip to watch the evolution of the character that even though he seemed fearless was actually selfish and running away from the demons from his past experiences to one who decides to accept that the past is gone and as such becomes selfless in his fearlessness. Also he evolves from being impulsive and aggressive to being patient calculated and quite smart as we see in his concocted plan at the end.

N.B: This is the first movie I’m noticing Taylor Kitsch even though I’ve watched four previous movies he’s acted in.

Dejah Thoris played by Lynn Collins

For you earthlings or should I say Varsoomites that thought it was only on our planet that arranged marriages occurred, think again.

Dejah finds herself in a position where her father agrees to trade her hand in marriage in for truce with the city’s war opponent the king of Zodanga and she has to make a choice between agreeing out of love for her people or not out of fear of a life with the brutish king but she decides to create a third option which is defeat the Zodangans at all cost.

Surely a couple of people who didn’t see the bigger picture at first may have felt she should have accepted the proposal and saved her nation all the heart ache but her action shows that one should not allow their circumstances define them but the other way around.

Good performance by Lynn; she played the cunning damsel in distress with a lot of fire.

Sola played by Samantha Morton

In the midst of the Green Martian Tharks that were such savages, Sola was a breadth of fresh air showing that compassion can be found even in the midst of such savagery. Even when the compassion was seen as a weakness and punished, she still went out of her way to help John Carter which gives her the opportunity to go on an adventure!

I enjoyed Sam’s acting; she showed that great achievements don’t usually come from the source the mind thinks it will. It was a really great underdog role.

Tardos Mars played by Ciarán Hinds

For the King of a city, this guy was really wimpy and quick to back down, giving his daughter up so easily? Wow. This was one leader who lacked too many good leadership traits.

I wasn’t too impressed by the character and the acting wasn’t exceptional.

Sab Than played by Dominic West

This is the typical man of the world today who wants everything he can get his hands on; this particular one gets help from powerful bodies in his quest for domination making him feel even more invincible. Anyway he ended up just being a pawn in the games of the Therns and got himself killed for no just cause I could think of as none was portrayed through the entire film.

Nice one Dominic.

Matai Shang played by Mark Strong

For the apparent leader of a set of beings who wielded a lot of power, they seemed to lack inspiration on how to use said power. The reason for their actions was that power needed to change hands and they determined who wielded domination next. I would have thought they’d allow the world exist in peace! Well that’s why I’m not a Thern.

Mark sure does have a way of playing the irrational antagonist with style though and I couldn’t help but enjoy it.

Supporting Cast

The supporting cast of this movie were quite impressive unlike a lot of movies that involve just around one or two cast members, this one chips in a lot of actors who make the movie a lot well rounded. Notable mentions go to:

William Dafoe as Tars Tarkas, Jeddak of the Tharks and father of Sola,

Thomas Haden Church as Tal Hajus, a Thark warrior and archenemy of Tars Tarkas,

Bryan Cranston as Colonel Powell,

Woola the pet Martian dog, who was just so funny and adorable albeit being totally ugly and

Daryl Sabara as Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter’s nephew[/toggle]

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