Mar 10, 2012

REVIEW: John Carter (dir. Stanton)

"Hollywood is in a tizzy over the early tracking which just came online this morning for Walt Disney StudiosJohn Carter opening March 9th. “Not good. 2 unaided, 53 aware, 27 definitely interested, 3 first choice,” a senior exec at a rival studio emails me. Another writes me, ”It just came out. Women of all ages have flat out rejected the film. The tracking for John Carter is shocking for a film that cost over $250 million. This could be the biggest writeoff of all time.” — Deadline Hollywood
Rich, strange and intermittently stirring. The strangeness comes in the antiquarian fidelity to Burroughs books, or more particularly to the fusty, 19th-century peculiarity of his imagination, with its little fillips of cruelty and absurd, teetering taxonomies — it could be an alien world as described by Darwin. The flying machines look like huge dragonflies and the Tharks are not cute, or easily anthropomorphised, and their edgy, ever-changing relationship with Carter has something of the old, mutually suspicious Imperial squint between England and its subjects. It leaves a modern audience a little off-balance. Are we supposed to like these critters? Ewoks they are not. The script could as well have been in swahili for all I understood of it — it's like the verbiage in Star Wars without Han Solo to cut through the crap — why on earth did they not have John Carter do the same? — but as the first 20 minutes of WALL-E suggested, Stanton really, truly understands landscape and how to make it sing; there are moments of great Vistavision grandeur here, with the actors reeling off gobbledy-gook with great intensity against deserts of vast eternity, all wrapped in another piece of symphonic loveliness from Michael Giacchino — the score hits a sandy sublime. Taylor Kitsch is a little hard to read — tousled, male-modellish and humorless — but Lynn Collins, who plays the bronzed, leonine princess opposite him... who knows whether Collins is a good or bad actress — she could easily be either — but she finds a husky declamatory style that is just perfect for this film. She gives the audience a reason to go back to Mars. C+


  1. Despite occasional moments of silliness, the old-fashioned sense of adventure and brilliantly rendered aliens elevate this above other derivative big-budget sci-fi fare. I still wished that Kitsch did a lot better in this lead role but he was only there for eye-candy really. Good review. What also stinks is that this flick probably won’t make back any of its 250 million dollar budget. Give my review a look when you can.

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