Saturday, March 10, 2012

John Carter (2012)

PG-13, 1 hr. 58 min.  Directed By:  Andrew Stanton.  Release Date:  Mar 9, 2012. 

They say that imitation is the highest form of flattery, but to be honest if I was Avatar, anything from the Star Wars saga, or even Princess of Mars, I’d be pissed.  John Carter has elements of all of these, and copycats with a reckless abandon, tramping its way up and down the Martian landscape for what feels more like an eternity and less like two hours.  Basically, this is an amalgam of poorly done scenes ripped off from much better science fiction (and, not to put too fine a point on this, but Princess of Mars has a porn star as the lead… and Antonio Sabato, Jr, so think about THAT for a minute). I'm willing to believe that PoM was also inspired by the same book that brought us John Carter, but adding in the similarities to the other sci-fi movies makes me a bit suspicious.

Being a fan of some of Edgar Rice Burroughs, I have to imagine that the novel that inspired this horrifically boring tale of aliens, semi-magical technology, war, and (to use the term loosely) romance reads better than it watches.  I’ve been asking WTF the point of this movie was since this appeared as a Trailer Alert six or eight weeks ago, maybe more.  Now that I’ve seen the movie, I’m still wondering what the point of the movie was.  It’s not a common problem I have with science fiction, but it’s a problem I have with this one.  There was a boy sitting behind me in the theater.  He was maybe 12 or 13, probably the target audience for this, and after about twenty minutes he asked “when is this going to be over?” at least five times.  So it wasn’t just me that was nearly stupefied with boredom. 

Let’s talk a little bit of smack about the cast.  I keep saying that if you’re in a movie and you spend more than a third of the run time in a state of undress that you’re in it for the looks and probably can’t act.  Taylor Kitsch has managed to prove that in the same way that Taylor Lautner’s been proving it since the second Twilight movie (was that Eclipse?  All of them have kind of rolled into one big stupid floppy attempt at romance at this point).  Lynn Collins struggles equally with keeping her modesty intact throughout the length of the movie, although I did think she was a little less rigid than Kitsch.    They weren’t the worst folks with lines, but they were pretty terrible, and we have to deal with them for most of the movie.

The only place I thought this movie made any headway was in the design of the flying ships, that you pretty much see all over the place.  Did they still look a little bit like the pleasure barges from Return of the Jedi where Luke goes all apeshit and starts throwing people into that mouth in the desert?  Yeah.  They even sounded like them, but they were still pretty cool.  I would have been happier if the wings were glowing or something, but it was a pretty decent effect.   

Basically, I vote take a pass on this one.  Oh, if you’re a parent and struggling with compromising the term “Disney” with the PG-13 rating on this sucker, you’re probably going to want to err on the side of the rating.  This is NOT family friendly.