|An alien with a prosthetic leg on her back doesn't help, though|
I don't normally focus much on the advertising campaigns for movies, but check out these trailers for John Carter:
|And his disembodied voice is hard to please! Remember Spider-Man 2?|
John Carter is the tale of (surprise!) John Carter.
|Because 13 seasons were not enough|
|Metal bikinis: the most exploitative protection available|
|You'll need to look harder than that to figure it out|
The acting in John Carter isn't bad. It's not great, but it is certainly on par with other epic sci-fi tales. Taylor Kitsch doesn't exude charm or charisma, but he makes up for it by doing his best Batman Bale Voice impression. There are moments, though, where Kitsch shows a bit of promise --- usually when he's not doing epically serious things --- and is fairly likable. Unfortunately, those bits are too far between, and his overall performance is pretty bland. Honestly, my favorite scenes for him were when he kept trying to escape Bryan Cranston in the beginning. Lynn Collins' role was pretty stereotypical --- a tough princess with a soft heart --- and she didn't add much to the role.
|Plunging necklines don't count?|
|"It's only acting if I'm faking it"|
|Still prettier than Dafoe|
While the acting wasn't great, I've enjoyed movies with worse acting. The direction in John Carter is one of the weak points for the film. Co-writer/director Andrew Stanton didn't really know where he wanted to go with this film. It certainly has epic aspirations. It certainly wants to shows some romance. It also wants to have huge CGI battle sequences. And yet, at its core, this is ultimately a family-friendly adventure movie, along the lines of an Indiana Jones. There are a few scenes with slapstick comedy (Carter learning to walk on Mars), there is a cute pet (the super-fast dog-thing), and the hero takes more than a few humorous lumps (especially in the beginning). These pieces don't meld together, like ingredients in a soup. They are like jigsaw pieces that were re-cut and assembled by a stubborn child, regardless of where they actually fit or if they make sense.
|Example: epic rescue scene or mowing a space lawn?|
|Even the actors can't stand this script|
|Except the costume choices|
The ultimate sin of John Carter is that it is pretty boring. Is that the fault of the source material, as some have claimed? I don't think so. There's enough in this movie that almost works to make me think that it could have been the flagship title that Andrew Stanton obviously hoped for. Had it played up the adventure angle more and the dramatic epic-ness less, this could have been a fun sci-fi pulp romp. But it is presented as an epic, and it just doesn't work. This is one of those films where you watch it and are constantly reminded how much it cost to produce. I don't think I've seen a movie since The Adventures of Baron Munchausen where I was so frequently surprised by the ratio of the film's scope to the size of it's inevitably tiny audience. It's a failure, but it's not all that bad. Which actually makes it less fun to watch, unfortunately. It's not cool enough to legitimately enjoy, but it's not bad enough to enjoy while drunk. It's just...John Carter. And that is a stupid name for a movie.
On a closing note, I never realized how many things I like have been influenced by Burroughs' work. Never mind all the film influences (Star Wars, Star Trek, Avatar, etc.) --- one of my favorite comic book issues growing up was a direct homage, and I never even realized it! Here's the cover to Excalibur (Vol. 1) #16: