Good, Bad & Ugly Review: John Carter

Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 51% (Critics) / 88% (Audience)
Directed By: Andrew Stanton
Written By: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon, Edgar Rice Burroughs
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong and Willem Dafoe
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Synopsis: Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter a princess who is in desperate need of a savior. (Source)

The Good:
The action scenes and big special effects laden set pieces looked great. Director Andrew Stanton seemed to have brought some of his animated directing sensibilities (he is the hand behind FINDING NEMO and WALL-E) to this live action fantasy-adventure and those animated chops really paid off.
Willem Defoe was really good in the motion capture role of head alien Tars Tarkus. It was also great to see ROME’s Ceasar and Marc Antony (Ciarán Hinds and Mark Purefoy) onscreen together once again even though they were both very underutilized..
And I think I might have to buy a Woola action figure…the big fella has bumped Uggie from atop my list of favorite movie pet this year.

The Bad:
Taylor Kitsch is a very wooden, emotionally limited actor and he also doesn’t impress in the more action heavy scenes. This movie would have benefited greatly from a different leading man. Lynn Collins wasn’t much better than Kitsch as his leading lady and their “great love” seemed to come from out of nowhere. One scene we are seeing that the two characters are beginning to become attracted to one another and the next scene John Carter is proposing. You’d think somewhere in the 2 and a half hours there would have been some scenes actually showing the characters falling in love.
Also the villains in this film were totally lame. Dominic West seemed too restrained in a role that really was desperately in need of some serious scenery chewing and Mark Strong suffered from a poorly conceived character whose motivations are still a mystery to me long after the movie has ended.

The Ugly:
About that running time…there is no reason why this movie should have been longer than 90 minutes. It is way too long and you can really feel it in the (many) scenes that seemed to drag on forever with almost no real point to them.

Final Verdict: Not the major successful installment of a tent-pole franchise I am sure Disney is banking on but JOHN CARTER is not a bad film per se; it’s just your average, run of the mill, brainless popcorn flick. And that is not the worst thing to be. If you are OK with turning your brain off for a while and looking at some cool visuals while ignoring bad acting and a messy plot, then this movie is just the ticket. C+

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