Review: John Carter

March 8, 2012, 3:54 am
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"John Carter looks positively inane." That's the tweet I fired off January 12th at precisely 7:55pm. Let it be known at this very moment, I hereby extend a retraction to that 140-character assassination: John Carter is a mightily entertaining, oft-cheesy, oft-soaring spectacle packed with more pulp than Florida's finest fruit.

The film is an amalgamation of Avatar, One Million Years B.C. and Flash Gordon but seeing as the source material was penned decades before any of those flicks, it would be fair to claim those are derivative of  Mr. Carter. Taylor Kitsch plays the title role with a Harrison Ford-esque nod; Han Solo's "here we go again" smirk mastered by the ex-'Friday Night Lights' fullback even if Kitsch's overall acting range remains in question - not that he needs much here. 

Set in the late 1800's, Carter - an ex-Confederate Army captain by way of Virginia - mysteriously finds himself teleported to Mars which just so happens to be smack dab in the midst of a hostile takeover by a group of dudes known as the Holy Therns (the customarily "evil" Mark Strong their leader). Also in play, the Tharks, tusk-faced, six-limbed red planet residents with their own "Na-vian" language and lest we forget the residents of Hellium and their seriously spray-tanned princess Dejah Thoris (the gorgeous Lynn Collins). 

With the risk of your head exploding at this point, additional details (which only get increasingly more convoluted) aren't necessary - sufficed to say the script could have scaled back its attempts to ape the MIT course load.

When Disney attached Andrew Stanton to the project, there was a ton of heat taken by the WALL-E helmer but the Pixar vet renders that discussion moot - what's on the screen is a straight up hoot. When Carter comes to rescue the princess on his flying Ski-Doo, I swore I heard echos of Freddie Mercury in the theater.

The battle scenes are positively electric, one in particular is brilliantly shot - Carter single-handedly slaughtering hundreds of beasts as Stanton simultaneously intersperses memories of Carter's own personal tragedy back on Earth - breathtaking filmmaking.

Much has been made of the film's reported $250 million budget after passing from studio to studio for the better part of thirty years but don't let the naysayers (as I once was) deceive you - this is not the second coming of Waterworld

Whether it shocks the box office or suffers a nasty demise, John Carter can't be faulted for its incessant effort to entertain.

How's this for final praise: John Carter is more lively than Avatar and infinitely less pretentious.

Grade: B+

It was many moons ago in a darkened theater that my love of cinema took root as I snuck in to see my first R-rated film, Blade Runner. The futuristic vision that Ridley Scott unleashed on the screen was simply soul-expanding — spiritual even. From that moment, my mission to have that kind of magic strike again began in earnest. My hope is to be able to shine a light on films that may just have that kind of effect on you — films that may be lesser known, but not lesser in impact. 
- Erick Weber

Final Cut Scoring System
99-95% Opening night
94-90% Opening weekend
89-86% In theaters
85-83% On Demand
82-80% Netflix/Redbox
79-75% If desperate
74-70% If dozing off
69-65% If intoxicated
64-60% If comatose
Below 60% If brain dead

Erick's reviews
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