Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong, Dominic West
Director: Andrew Stanton
After some reviews I had read on the web on what seemed like a genesis of a huge franchise, I finally decided to let my guards down and see JOHN CARTER with a couple of my friends and my girlfriend right after a crappy seminar that had sucked the lives out of us. We bought the tickets for the 3D screening which we thought would bring more fun and action than the 2D screening. But that’s mostly because there’s no JOHN CARTER in 2D at the theater we were at (well, if there was a 2D screening, I would’ve bought the tickets for it instead for the 3D one). We sat back, relaxed and kinda enjoyed seeing the Disney logo in the orange tint which made JOHN CARTER look less like a kiddie flick. And then the movie’s myth was suddenly told upon us. And we looked at each other. And nothing made sense… Until the presence of Taylor Kitsch, that is. That’s simply because: 1) Kitsch, who played JOHN CARTER, didn’t really give a fuck about the abnormalities of the movie 2) He made JOHN CARTER his own, and 3) He successfully made me and my chums laugh so damn hard with his ‘impressive’ defying-gravity sequence in which he beats the living daylights out of himself by repeatedly banging himself down to the ground after a series of some dumb yet clichéd no-gravity-jumps. And then we were introduced to some kind of an alien race that had some sort of ivories just below the mouths. They had green skins, of course. Oh, and they also spoke in their native language which certainly baffled the hell out of Carter who was addressed as Virginia, simply because he was from Virginia. Then the whole audience laughed… But us.
If this was kind of a practical joke that Disney had intended to put us through, then it wasn’t funny AT ALL. For over 25 minutes I nodded off at scenes that were not only not entertaining but also uncreative. How many times in our movie-watching history have we seen an archetypal savior that is called by a mysterious force to save some random society or even a fucking damsel in distress?! I knew that this was a Disney flick meaning that I would sit through scenes that have your regular Disney-flick moments in them. But I hadn’t thought that JOHN CARTER would turn into something tediously unoriginal. The cast undoubtedly looked strong with Taylor Kitsch as the highlight. He’d been playing the supporting role in movies like X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE and that crappy COVENANT and JOHN CARTER might turn things around since it was meant to be a big movie franchise whose action figures and merchandises would arrive at your nearest shopping malls soon. Kitsch wasn’t bad at all. In fact, he was the only one who played the role properly. I mean, let’s face it, we could expect what kind of hero JOHN CARTER would turn out be when we lined up for its tickets. Since the arrival of the fresh Hans Solo character of the pretty much well-known STAR WARS saga, big screen heroes had been redefined. They’d been less holy and innocent than ever. They’d been more mission-oriented, cocky and attractive (in the typical bad-boy way). There you go, you’ve got JOHN CARTER. Kitsch obviously was no Harrison Ford since there was no creative improvement (or we may call it a good deviation) from the script that somehow managed to miss some important personality arc in the JOHN CARTER character. Okay, I admit it’s acceptable for some franchise-wielding fans and kids to follow him through the sands of Barsoom or whatever Mars was named after. But for most of us, who’d already seen too much of the same fucking formula, JOHN CARTER never really entertained us. I swear I’d been looking at my watch, wondering when the movie would finish and praying that it wouldn’t be as long as AVATAR…
The rest of the characters were as Disney as ever. There was of course, a damsel in distress named Dejah or something. She obviously became the romantic-interest of CARTER. After CARTER had rescued her from a crippled battle ship, everything went moronic. Expect some cheesy dialogues between Dejah and CARTER. God help me, I shuddered everytime those dialogues took place… I really couldn’t face the shame. It’s been more than 40 years and the dialogues between Hans Solo and Leia suddenly gets relevant and smart compared to those of the typical characters in countless STAR WARS-like adventure epics. JOHN CARTER obviously made that list. We would already know that CARTER and Dejah would somehow fall in love and save the goddamn bitching world. And that’s what I meant by the same fucking formula over and over again. The alien characters were pretty much better than their human/humanoid counterparts. The CGI was overall smooth and believable and the voice-acting was pretty much well done. But what had been bothering me since their introduction on the screen was their design. Four arms, two strange ivories and a green skin? Come on! Don’t just copy the designs of some of the many alien species in many recent sci-fi flicks and mash it all up into a design that was no longer ‘alien’ to us. Learn the word ‘RIP –OFF’.
What had bothered me even more was the poor 3D conversion which had me yelling obscenities occasionally. My friends would sometime open up their 3D glasses and found no major changes on the screen. What the hell happened? Since JOHN CARTER was meant to be an space adventure epic, I was absolutely baffled by how poor the 3D conversion looked. Got absolutely no comment on the 3D…
No matter how many special effects-filled action sequences and STAR WARS-like sidekicks it managed to toss up, JOHN CARTER didn’t seem to reach its goal, namely, ENTERTAINING US. JOHN CARTER was very derivative because it did things that had been done so much better in the past by some of the best sci-fi directors. It also wasn’t decent enough to pass a few hours by. This is a lesson for all of us and filmmakers all over the world: be original and creative. That’s how you’d nail a movie and give the real pleasure to the audience.
PS: I hope there wouldn’t be any dog make-up competition since the dog-like character which was addressed as Woola or something would certainly give one hell of a fan reaction. Oh, and too many alien races doesn’t always make for an epic flick.