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Scott Roberts
John Carter
on Mar 12, 2012 at 10:22:57 pm

It's now been two days since I've seen John Carter, and I'm still not sure what it is that I sat through on Saturday...

I had the same feeling when I saw Cowboys & Aliens last year. I definitely saw it, and I didn't love it / didn't hate it, but a few days later I almost had no opinion on it. I'm looking at a ticket stub, so I definitely saw John Carter at 2:40 pm on Saturday. But it's almost as if the film was so uninspiring that my brain chose not to remember it... I have a more vivid memory of eating cheeseburgers on Saturday than I do watching this film.

That's not to say it's awful. It's just not memorable. Let me try to think about this movie for a minute. I remember it started kinda slow and middling, then it continued relatively slow and middling, and the last 10 minutes were pretty slow and middling. McNulty from The Wire was there! And so was a lukewarm romance plot!

The main character, whose name I can't remember, was a little less than stellar. Just some bro civil war soldier who doesn't know where he is. He kind of haphazardly stumbles into a cave and gets teleported to an alternate Mars where human life can exist, and he just sort of wanders around interacting with the natives. Everyone loves his ability to utilize the gravity and jump wherever he wants. He's a bit of a superhero in the Mars folk's eyes, I suppose.

The special effects are really good and all, and the whole thing is pretty neat visually. There are just these patches throughout the movie where I completely stopped paying attention. Call me a bad movie watcher that day if you want, but John Carter was really struggling to hold my attention. There was a whole scene in a cave where JC and his lady are looking at light beams in the floor or something, it goes on for like 6-7 minutes, and if you put a gun to my head and told me to explain what that was all about, I'd be dead. I have no recollection of what happened in that cave. My mind completely blanked over it. This happened a couple of other times too.

Yet still, I was able to understand the basic functions of the story, despite encountering several holes of non-retention. Which leads me to believe that John Carter, in all its 2 hour and 12 minute glory, was possibly a bloated mass of unnecessary exposition... ...?

I liked all the stuff when he was interacting with the "primitive" culture of four-armed green aliens. That stuff was fun. It was action packed, it wasn't overly complex (not that I *dislike* things that are overly complex), and most importantly it held my attention. It was in the spirit of a good, dumb summer action film. Then it went into the human side of things, and it became bogged down with nonsense to the point where it reminded me of a galactic senate meeting on Naboo. That also reminded me of why it was released in March, not July.

There was some good splashes of humor in it, for sure, and you could tell the film had its heart in the right places. I didn't fully hate it (or even hate it at all, really), but I just don't care about this movie. I never plan on seeing it again or having a discussion about it after a week or so from now has passed. For some reason John Carter reminded me of the Stargate movie from 1994 (I don't know, futuristic desert planets?), but I was 10x times more entertained by Stargate than I was this film. If that means anything to you...?

I would rank John Carter above, say, an Underworld/Resident Evil type movie, but below an R-rated action film like the newest Rambo or something. And while I consider it in a different league than Resident Evil, it's basically the same sport. Overstylized nonsense, with desperately-trying-to-be-cool undertones. At least JC had the decency to be *half* good. Perhaps the greatest contribution John Carter will have on the film world is seeing the interesting cosplay outfits people will make from it at upcoming comic book conventions (metal bikinis and red body tattoos will be in this year!).

Again, I don't loathe John Carter in any way. I didn't like it enough to recommend it to anybody, but I'm also so vastly indifferent about most of it that I won't *not* recommend it to anybody. Huh?

5.5 out of 10


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Fernando Mol
Re: John Carter
on Mar 13, 2012 at 1:32:04 am

Same here, Scott. In my opinion, many super productions do the same mistake. They are so focused on the action sequences and the visuals that they almost forget to actually tell the story.

--SPOILER ALERT--
This movie has one of the better character presentations I can remember. I mean, John Carter fighting again and again and again to escape... it was just so amazing. The conclusion of the movie should have being great too, but since to all the time John Carter was just a "brutal force" guy, suddenly having him putting a complex trap to get back to mars was not believable to me.

The sad thing is that the movie could have touched our hearts, but it ended just giving us a fun time to eat our popcorns. Not bad, but not good, I agree with that.


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Mark Suszko
Re: John Carter
on Mar 13, 2012 at 2:50:44 pm

I don't know if you read the original John Carter books at all, I only read one or two before getting bored, then again, I'm not a sword and sorcery devotee. The fanboys of Burroughs think the film collapsed and compacted the story too much. Well, that always happens to film treatments of books, has to. But for example, Deja Thoris in the books is basically full-on nekkid the whole time, can't do that even in an R movie today.

Did they have the headless human bodies with spider-things riding them? That was the one thing from the book that struck me after all these years.


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Stephen Smith
Re: John Carter
on Mar 13, 2012 at 3:51:26 pm

That is to bad that the movie is not memorable. As written in other posts. I love to see films with Utah in it. For me it is a lot of fun to see a movie and think, cool, I've been their. A matter of fact, I was close to where they were filming during the filming of the movie. Check out these cool production photos.






Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mark Suszko
Re: John Carter
on Jul 1, 2012 at 6:08:08 pm

OK, I Red Boxed this movie this week and I have to say it was actually quite good, excellent even, in some parts. Willem DaFoe was excellent as Tars Tarkus. Thomas Hayden Church was a good bad guy here too. The Tharks were very well-realized, I think as good as the N'avi, while arguably harder to do, considering the extra limbs. The arena battle sequence was way better than the similar one in Star Wars.


The little alien doggie-thing is just adorable, and only gets more so over the length of the film. The art direction is stunning. Oddly, the scene I thought most like something from he book, was my wife's least-fave: The scene where Carter takes on an entire Thark horde single-handed, like something out of The Matrix. I thought it was great editing theory, to intercut his battle with clips of him burying his wife and child, it works on may levels, not just semiotic.


I have to agree this is a MUCH better film than people think. My own kids refused to watch it initially, all due to the craptastic marketing and buzz about the film being some kind of turkey. But they were drawn in by the end of the first reel, and stuck thru to the end, saying it surprised them.

While not Oscar material, it is still a very good movie, that seems to match fairly well with the overall feeling of the original source material. I got little whiffs, here and there, of influences from Lawrence of Arabia, Brothers Karamatzov, Little Big Man, and Dance With Wolves, plus a good steampunk vibe.


All in all, made for a decent evening's entertainment.


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Tim Wilson
Re: John Carter
on Jul 1, 2012 at 7:22:28 pm

[Mark Suszko] "All in all, made for a decent evening's entertainment."

It was easy pickings for making fun of, but agreed, it's a shame that it didn't get a proper airing. It was definitely in the upper maybe quarter of movies last year, imo, and very much worth a watch.

tw


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Mark Suszko
Re: John Carter
on Mar 20, 2012 at 3:30:07 pm

JC did really weak at the box office. NASA fans like myself point out that the amount of money spent to make this movie could have paid for a real-life human expedition TO the real Mars.

So why can't we just talk a studio into backing a real mission AS the movie? The greatest documentary ever.


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Juan Salvo
Re: John Carter
on Mar 20, 2012 at 3:36:37 pm

300million doesn't even come close to what it would cost to have a maned mission to mars. That's an order of magnitude off.



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Stephen Smith
Re: John Carter
on Mar 20, 2012 at 3:45:46 pm

I thought the last time we tried a human expedition to Mars the space ship just orbited around Earth for a long time and then crashed in Lake Powell. Only for us to learn that our planet was taken over by dirty apes. Take your stinking paws off me, you danged dirty ape!

Stephen Smith
Utah Video Productions

Check out my Motion Training DVD

Check out my Vimeo page


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Mike Cohen
Re: John Carter
on Aug 11, 2012 at 9:01:41 pm

Glad I paid Red box price rather than Loews price to see this. My home theater is a decent alternative to a movie theater and the woman who takes my ticket is way hotter at home!
Typical fish out of water story with way too much production design for its own good.
Did anyone think the arena scene was eerily exactly the same as Attack of the Clones?
I could not name a single character name though kudos for doing the beginning in subtitles. The device to make Carter and the audience speak and hear Martianese as English was weak. Stargate was much better in that regard.
Action and flying machines cool. Night time battle scenes difficult to follow. Maybe my DLP projector needs a tuneup.
I thought I would hate this movie but it was an enjoyable tier 2 movie. Tier 2 movies include The Mummy series, basically anything with Brendan Frasier, Superhero films that are fun but not awesome (Fantastic Four, X Men 3, Hulk, Thor), and any fantasy or action movie that you might ser at the theater but maybe not pay full price for. Tier 3 movies are ones that nobody in their right mind would see at the theater and which are destined for the $3.99 bin at WalMart and TBS (ie Wild Wild West, Batman and Robin (the one with Ahhnold), and the like.
Where was I? This classification system is more interesting than the movie!
Oh yeah. John Carter of Mars. Odd they put the full title at the end after all the hoopla about not having Mars in the title.
I hear a sequel is going to star Mohawk Guy from NASA.
Mike


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