Thursday, June 28, 2012

John Carter

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. I am just sharing my opinions and perspective. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 1-5. 1, of course, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being good and 5, being epic!
 
John Carter - 1 out of 5
 
The book series this film is based upon is older than the Bible--that's a joke, it's not.  Don't go running to Wikipedia to alter the entry on my account.  I fully realize I have a major influence on you all but we don't need to go overboard.  In reality, the book series by Edgar Rice Burroughs began in 1912--yeah, that's still old--and classic sci-fi geeks adore them, however, I've never read them.  In fact, I never actually heard of them until Disney decided to waste 250 million dollars making it and now, after seeing the jumbled mess they produced, any interest I may have had in reading the stories of John Carter on Mars have been completely obliterated.
 
Sometimes the side-effects of the drug are worse than the disease.
 
The story of John Carter is mostly based on the book A Princess of Mars (and to be honest, casting Taylor Kitsch as John Carter, you're not too far off that princess thing), however, in an attempt to poke the eyes of the geeks who would have helped recoup Disney's losses from this movie, they changed the title to simply John Carter.  The film is a complicated story involving a lot of sci-fi elements that went on to be expectations within the genre and went on to inspire many people to create many of the stories we enjoy today--or don't enjoy, don't want to discriminate on any tastes.  Even James Cameron found some inspiration for Avatar from this series...because without it, Cameron might have been forced to make an original film.
 
For the sake of simplicity, the story of John Carter involves a guy during the Civil War era (not to be confused with the coming era in our near future known as the era of the Civil War Re-creationists) who is accidentally transported to Mars (called Barsoom by the natives) and finds that due to the planet's gravity and his dense bones, he can jump unnecessarily high and is suddenly very strong.  John finds himself in a mess of a situation as the natives of the Red Planet are not really getting along and he becomes a symbol to rally behind in an effort to stop the wars and bring peace.
 
To those of you who hold the series dear and enjoyed the adaptation, I feel I must warn and apologize to you because this review will not be pleasant.  To boil it down to one sentence:  John Carter sucked.  The movie only proves that Disney STILL doesn't know what they are doing (seriously, how have they survived this long?) and proves that just because you throw a lot of money at a movie, it won't make it look good and it won't get asses into the seats.
 
Even the CG characters can't believe their pixel eyes when they see the final product.
 
Even though I'm not overly familiar with the source material, John Carter had the potential to be a great sci-fi/action film but it was clear Disney didn't care about the final product and acted on the belief that if they told you they were serving you a fancy dinner, you wouldn't notice that Mickey just took a steaming shit on your plate.  For example, there are some terrifically talented actors within this movie like Willem Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church providing some voices for the animated characters and live performances from Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Dominic West and Bryan Cranston but none of these names are allowed to utilize their craft to their full potential with the exception of Mark Strong.  Then, as if Disney needed to provide further evidence they weren't trying in the casting department, they decided to make John Carter a pretty-boy douche and they hired an actor who mirrors that idea perfectly.
 
"But I can be douchier...I mean, Battleship is coming out soon."
 
Taylor Kitsch does more damage to this film than any of the other weak aspects Disney threw up at us with this one.  Kitsch iscompletely incapable of delivering a single line with even the smallest hint of emotion.  Every line is a drab, monotone drawl that is borderline incoherent noise--Stallone is easier to understand and with every boring line that barely farts out of his mouth, he keeps the same emotionless state on his face--he's basically the male version of Kristen Stewart--only Stewart is a powerhouse of emotion when the two are compared.  With Kitsch in the role, it was totally impossible for me to get behind a hero that looked like such a douche bag that it wouldn't have surprised me in the least that when director Andrew Stanton called "cut," Kitsch put on a overpriced pin-stripped shirt that looked like Ed Hardy jerked off on over a wife beater, threw on a pair of white framed sunglasses, filled his pockets with roofies and hit the club ready to "crush it."  Casting Taylor Kitsch as the hero is one of those events where you swear the filmmakers were out to intentionally ruin their film--like when Sam Worthington or Shia LaBeouf are put into a movie.
 
Sadly, this face is the most emotion you get out of Kitsch throughout his entire career.

Problems with John Carter don't stop at just the casting as the film fails to keep a decent pace going.  I don't mean that the movie has a great action sequence and comes to a halt when plot elements take over--no, I mean this movie NEVER gets going.  The film feels like an infant just learning to walk.  It takes a step, a pause, two more steps, a pause before a fall to the ground, a struggle to get up and then repeat.  This mess made the film nearly unwatchable--seriously, it took me two sittings to actually get through it.  I sat down to watch it, felt my life start to fade so I turned it off only to return to it the next night.
 
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the newest star on Jersey Shore.  I didn't know
they got spray tans on Mars.

The lack of balance is also seen in the film's special effects.  Some elements, like the alien spacecrafts look amazing but then you have to look at the Tharks and they look like freaking cartoons.  So, 250 million dollars can't get you realistic creature effects?  They made Gollum look real, for crying out loud!
 
Yeah...cartoon aliens...that's worth the ticket price.

Then there's the laugh-out-loud fight scenes--but calling them fight scenes is an injustice to actual fight sequences.  John Carter is suppose to be this tough guy but when you see Kitsch flailing about with his swords before jumping around in the air like it's a deleted scene from Flubber rather than a hero leaping to save the day, it's hard to take this movie seriously.  Honestly, Brick Tamland screaming with a grenade in his hand in Anchorman was a more dignified fight scene than what John Carter delivers.
 
Boy, fight scenes are easy when the enemy just runs directly into your sword.

The whole time I watched this movie, I kept asking myself where the money went because it clearly didn't go into the acting, script or special effects.  Was Disney using John Carter as an excuse to embezzle money or did they just have a credit card with no limit?  Had another company worked on the film and a better actor given the role of Carter, the film could have been a decent movie.  Instead, we got a poorly made, phoned-in piece of crap that somehow cost 250 million dollars to make.  Somehow the resignation of Rich Ross (the chairman of Disney Studios) isn't enough to make up for this movie (seriously, he quit because of the embarrassment of this movie at the box office and the loss of money the company took from it)...reparations must be made in blood--or at least the 2 dollars it cost me to rent this piece of shit from Redbox.

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