John Carter of Mars (2012)
Review by Bryan Mero
After watching the first and second trailer for John Carter of Mars I wasn't quite sure the type of movie I was about to see. I also brought along 4 teenage boys who I'm sure would tell me right away whether or not they liked what they saw. Overall no one seemed disappointed.
John Carter(Taylor Kitsch) is a former Confederate soldier who is now searching for gold. Before he can find it, the Union is drafing him for service to help protect Arizona from the Indians. Carter escapes but with a wounded Union commander in tow hides in a cave and discovers a visitor and is transported to Mars. Carter is captured by native, four armed, green martians. There's also a civil war going on which John Carter suddenly puts himself in the middle of. He saves Princess Dejah(Lynn Collins), not knowing she's a princess, and is now hunted down by the inhabitants of Mars. This is all being told from the perspective of Edger Rice Burroughs who is reading John Carter's personal journal.
If that all sounds like a simple explanation of the story...it definitely is not. The first 20 minutes or so of John Carter of Mars is trying to explain what is going on and does not do a very good job. Once John Carter is on Mars and finding his way the movie settles down and tells a straight forward story, it just takes some time to get there. Once we are transported to Mars the story flows well, there are some funny moments, some cute sidekicks, action and budding romance. This is a Disney movie afterall.
The special effects are very well done. There has been alot of talk about how much this movie costs and it definitely shows. The sfx is quite amazing and seeing it in 3D was nice but probably not totally necessary. The best sfx was that of the green martians and espcailly Tars Tarkus played by William Dafoe. They used motion capture suits which helps in a smooth motion and believable creatures. It is probably one of the best effects I've seen since Avatar.
The acting was good. There are no Oscar winning performances here. Kitsch plays the reluntant hero, who happens to be good looking and Collins plays the fiesty princess...yes, we've seen this before especially in Star Wars but Collins does it as well as it was written. She can definitely take care of herself as Princess Dejah. I have to mention William Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church who really bring the four armed, green Martians to life.
John Carter of Mars is an action movie with many underlined themes. Edgar Rice Burroughs was making a statement about the U.S. Civil War at the time and how the Native Americans were thrown the mix. It plays out well in the story if you look for it. Overall, the main thing here is how did the teen boys react? 4 out of 4 loved it. From the time the movie was over to our drive together they could not stop talking about it. That's what you want from a movie. Overall, as a PG-13 rating, it is pretty tame. There is one bad word towards the very beginning of the movie and any potential gruesomely violent scenes are cut out of the film. This could have easilly been a PG movie with the right editing. I would not hesitate to bring my 9 or 10y.o. son to this movie.
I would give this movie 7 reels out of 10. It definitely is worth seeing on the big screen but save your money and see it in 2D and make it a matinee. Don't forget the kids!
UPDATE: It's tough to turn on the TV on a Saturday afternoon and not run into John Carter...that is to say everytime I do, the more I like this movie. For being such a flop at the box office the movie really stands up to some fun entertainment. Some say it was due to this flop that Disney was able to purchase the Star Wars franchise...if this is the case, then I like it even more!