John Carter (2012)

Film review: John Carter (2012), directed by Andrew Stanton

Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) gets a telegram saying his uncle has died. Amongst the possessions is a diary, which only he is allowed to read. Within, Edgar finds the most incredible story …

Thirteen years ago, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) managed to end up in a cave, where he touched an object and was transported to Mars … or Barsoom, as the locals call it. Because yes, Mars is not the desolate wasteland we think it is – it has people and a breathable atmosphere and everything.

Because the atmosphere is different, Carter finds that he has increased strength and agility – he can hit really hard and jump incredibly far/high. Still doesn’t stop him from getting captured by a four-armed Martian, a Thark. The leader of the Tharks, Tars Tarkas (voiced by Willem Dafoe) eventually makes Carter a part of the tribe.

However, life on Mars isn’t peachy. There’s a war raging between the moving city of Zodanga, consuming everything, and the last remaining city, Helium. The ruler of Zodanga, Sab Than (Dominic West) has been given a “ninth ray” weapon (think: blue laser with an attitude) by an immortal being (Mark Strong – not like he’s typecast as the baddie or anything …) and the ruler of Helium, Tardos Mors (Ciarán Hinds) is running out of options.

When Sab Than offers a truce in return for the hand of Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), the princess of Helium, it’s the best offer they’re going to get. The princess, however, disagrees, and runs away. And where does she end up? Meeting John Carter. World-saving ensues.

Also starring the voice of Samantha Morton as Sola, the voice of Thomas Haden Church as Tal Hajus and the whole appearance and voice of James Purefoy as Kantos Kan.

Based on a series of early 20th century books by – gasp! – Edgar Rice Burroughs, John Carter is a science-fantasy with lots of special effects and pretty decent 3D. This was the third movie we’ve seen in 3D and probably the first one where I could see the film without thinking about it being in 3D. On the other hand, seeing it in 2D wouldn’t have made it less enjoyable.

Can’t really explain why, but this film failed to grab me, but I’m not sure why. It wasn’t bad, and it was well-made, didn’t have a problem with the script or the actors, but … I don’t know. For some reason I couldn’t stop myself from yawning most of the time. Maybe I’m just getting old? I really wanted to enjoy it, but for some reason, it didn’t really happen. Left the theatre with a “meh” sort of feeling and in a week’s time, I’m not even sure I’ll remember what it was about.

Maybe it was trying too hard to be cool. It was a good adventure, but I didn’t really care about any of the characters, aside from maybe Sola and the alien dog-like creature. 2.7 out of 5 white apes.

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