John Carter

John Carter

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong, Dominic West, Willem Dafoe, Samantha Morton
Director: Andrew Stanton
Rating: 3/5

Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter stories have influenced sci-fi movies for generations yet this story has never been brought to the big screen.

Hollywood has been trying to deliver a John Carter movie for years and 2012 has seen the technology advance enough to create the world that Burroughs described without resorting to animation.

John Carter is the first live action movie for director Andrew Stanton, who is best known for Oscar winning animation movie Finding Nemo & Wall-E, and while it is an ambitious project Stanton really does shine.

And it’s Stanton’s animation experience that really shows as he has created an entirely new and believable world, which is contrasted beautifully with the rather grey 19th century America.

The planet of Bassoom is just stunning and the CGI work is one of the strongest aspects of this movie from the spectacular city of Helium to the white apes and the Tharks, characters that are brought to live by some great motion capture work from the likes of Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton.

John Carter is a story that Stanton has been fascinated with since he was a young boy and you can tell that it has been crafted with real care and enthusiasm.

This movie may be set on a different world and in a different time but it does deal with some very contemporary issues - none more than war and the search of peace.

Not only that but it also delivers a clear message of believing in a cause, the one piece of advice that Carter passes on to his nephew, and fighting for that belief that you hold; Carter may be on a different planet where she doesn’t belong but he fights against oppression and those he cares for.

This is the biggest role of Taylor Kitsch’s career so far, known for roles in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and the Bang Bang Club, but he really does carry the movie well.

Carter is one of the few characters that is truly developed - he is a man who fought in the American Civil War only to pay the ultimate price for that belief, the death of his wife and daughter.

He is a character who is carrying a lot of guilt for events of the past and he is forced to face his demons and deal with things that he has buried deep inside.

Carter is an intriguing character because he is a man with a choice; doe he use his new found power to help other or does he keep it to himself? Is he ready to believe and fight for a cause once again despite what it has cost him in the past?

Princess Dejah Thoris is also a good role for actress Lynn Collins as she is a strong female character, which is always nice to see.

She is smart and a warrior, not to mention totally stunning throughout the entire movie, who is more than capable of fighting for herself and what she believes in - there is nothing wishy washy about this woman.

However I would like to have seen more of Ciaran Hinds and James Purefoy as they are both desperately underused - which was a major shame.

However this movie is not without its flaws as the pacing is all over the place, especially at the beginning it really does take a good while for the story and the action to really get going; have to admit the first twenty minutes or so are a bit of a snooze fest.

Also there is a momentum issue with the script as it doesn’t hold onto that level of excitement throughout the entire story, the momentum swings back and forth between exiting and action packed to a little bit dull.

But the major issue that I had with the story was the villain Sab, played by Dominic West; he has to be the dullest and most uninteresting baddie that I have seen on the big screen for some time.

Sab is suppose to be destroying cities and people at will and yet we don’t get to see a whole lot of that so he is never a character that you fear or really feel is the evil and villainous man that he is supposed to be - and that has a huge impact on the momentum of the movie as you never feel the threat that this character is suppose to pose.

However the movie does redeem itself with some interesting characters, complex relationships and battles scenes that really are very good and visually stunning.

John Carter may technically be a sci-fi movie but it is just as much about good vs. evil, loyalty, friendship and love as it is about being on a different world - none lovers of sci-fi really shouldn't be put off.

This is a solid action movie from Stanton and with a second script already being worked on the filmmaker may very well be back.

The film does have its shortcomings and issues but John Carter is a concept and a character that does have the potential to be a great franchise and this movie has set the foundations.

 John Carter is released 9th March

FemaleFirst Helen Earnshaw

 


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