John Carter

John Carter of Mars: an American civil war-vet accidentally teleports to Mars in the middle of a war. At over an hour long the setup drags on, and the whole film never really shakes off the ‘teeing up a franchise’ vibe as things are cintinually explained – including all of the confusingly named species, planets, and cities – feels like Bill Cosby suggested a couple. The script isn’t the best, although there’s a few comedy gems poking out between clunky, formulaic dialogue and sections of explanation – that would have been better to get over with in one big voiceover. There’s some half-decent actors making a quick buck here Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Willem Dafoe – who are all good, but nobody has much scope with flat, stock characters, the most entertaining and likable of which is a non-speaking dog-like alien. Some other undertones felt out-of-place, like the environmental agenda segments (including literal green warriors!) Some positives of note: graphics are awesome considering most of it is CGI/Green Screen, several gratuitous big action set-pieces, the score is top drawer and is reminiscent of Indy films, skimpy outfits on the Princess are awesome, a smart ending, and there are parts that feel like a solid old-fashioned action adventure. Unfortunately, despite the source being an ‘original’ space story (almost 100 years old) it’s been copied and ripped off so often over the decades, leaving a major air of déjà vu. Finally, I know we’re supposed to suspend disbelief, but given advances and general knowledge in astronomy / physics / space and science… a lot of the unknowns from 100 years ago now feel like massive, tardy unexplained plotholes – but that’s a minor gripe. John Carter is undoubtedly an impressive story; but it’s just not presented as best it could be (down to the framing device – it’s necessary, but could have been done better), and because of this, it never got me going once, which is disappointing for a film this big.

Score: 4/10

8 comments
  1. Nostra said:

    Although it has been getting pretty bad reviews’ I still want to check it out myself, even though I have this feeling I should know better ;)

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  2. I think I feel the same as Nostra. I’d like to see it for the experience, but I’m not overly optimistic about it.

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  3. Dan said:

    This film hasn’t appealed to me at all. The trailer doesn’t do anything for me. The negative reviews just seem to reinforce this although I’ve heard some people it is strangely enjoyable as if they were expecting a load of rubbish. Thanks for the warning Paragraph!

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  4. “flat, stock characters” is an apt way of putting it. I found this movie disappointing too, although the sheer spectacle of its special effects redeemed it to some extent.

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  5. Paragraph Film Reviews said:

    I think it’d be worth a punt for anyone that likes Sci Fi, as it’s one of those genres that individual films tend to score between 0 and 10 depending on the viewer.

    Fogs – definitely agree on the SFX (I saw it in 2D) but unfortunately all the shiny shiny doesn’t cover up the bigger issues.

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  6. Is it better than “Star Wars: Episode II”? Too bad it’s not doing very well in the box office…

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    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      It’s unfortunate how every story about this focuses on the money, and not the fact that it’s just a pretty average film. I’ve only seen Episode 2 when it came out, but as a general rule, I’d probably watch any Star Wars film (old or new) over this.

      Also, Lucas has clearly ripped off the Princess of Mars novel, which makes this feel less original than it should.

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