Monday, 27 May 2013

FILM: John Carter (5/10)


Why did I watch it?
Following the reviews and declaration as a flop, this was a big budget blockbuster that I always intended to watch to form my own opinion on when it premiered on the small screen.

What's it all about?
Based on the character of Edwin Burrough's early 20th century novels, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a Virginian Civil War Captain magically transported to Mars, known as Barsoom in this universe, where a civil war is being fought between the cities of Helium and Zodanga, both home to humanoid Martian races. Capable of increased strength and jumping because of the lesser gravity, Carter is reluctantly recruited to fight alongside Helium Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), to prevent the mysterious Thern's from scheming towards Barsoom's destruction.

Should you watch it?
Some time has passed since I watched John Carter and I certainly hold no grudges against it. It wasn't the complete write-off I was expecting, although it is certainly not without it's flaws. I think  I preferred it to Battleship, although I can't think of what I must have done to deserve being forced to choose between either.

There are times during John Carter where you could really be watching either Indiana Jones or Star Wars (Episodes I-III) such is the old fashioned, character-led, gung-ho adventure and sci-fi nature of the film. However, despite it being an adventure film of massive budget, I struggle to recall any action set pieces that took place, with the exception of the picture below, despite knowing that there must have been some. This cannot be a good recollection for an action blockbuster. 

I am not familiar with any of Burrough's stories and the screenplay certainly didn't help matters. Although the screenplay doesn't assume any knowledge of the character and the universe he belongs to and I appreciate that the writers are working with the original material, they made a seemingly simple plot far too complicated through the method of delivery. Surprisingly, and the surprise is relative, the script is only slightly clich├ęd in places and didn't stink to high heaven in the way Battleship's did. I did really like the context of the story being told from a young Burrough's perspective and the twist at the end was unexpected and satisfying.

My biggest gripe with the acting, and being such a massive fan of The Wire it pains me to do this, was with Dominic West. I thought he almost looked embarrassed to be on screen in most scenes and delivered one of the hammiest performances I think I've ever seen. Sorry Dominic. Lyn Collins was a vibrant presence and I felt Taylor Kitsch did enough in shouldering the responsibilities of the lead role, considering the film's inherent flaws. He certainly can't be held accountable for the films failings at the box office.

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