'John Carter' Review By Corey W.

How great would this have been if Jon Favreau and Paramount moved on with the project? It certainly would have been a hell of a lot better than this...
  • Story
  • Acting
  • Directing
  • Visuals
Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic science fantasy novel from 1917 finally gets the adaptation that has been long awaited for, for almost an entire century. Burroughs' deep, thought-provoking fantasy world is what sparked the science-fiction genre to what it is today. Let's not think about "Star Wars" or "Avatar" when watching John Carter, but instead let's look at this film as the origin of science-fiction. For that much I respect John Carter as an original piece and not the "science-fiction classic wannabe" that some baffling idiots seem to be calling it. However, as dreamy and unbelievably wonderful the story that Edgar Rice Burroughs has created is, Disney just doesn't seem to bring it enough justice.

John Carter had all the cards on the table to be the next science-fiction classic. This is a piece that could have been greater, quite possibly bigger, than James Cameron's Avatar. As visually-stunning Avatar was, the storyline is nowhere near comparable to the epic proportions of the Barsoom series. What Burroughs created is a universe to remember, one that is complex and fun at the same time. It's a damn shame that the Barsoom series never got the green light or attention it deserved almost a century away from its prime. Even now that the film has finally released, I can't say it's received any justice for its absolute wonderfulness. Leave it up to Disney to ruin that.

"John Carter of Mars", "John Carter and the Princess of Mars", or even the book's original title, "A Princess of Mars" all would have been much better titles than the boring and unremarkably bland title, "John Carter". What is one to think after witnessing such an epic trailer and then it being sunken down by such an unsatisfying title? The title doesn't attract much attention, nor does it even make people want to talk about the film. Imagine if "Stars Wars" was instead titled "Luke Skywalker" or if "Pirates of the Caribbean" was just "Jack Sparrow". See where I'm getting at here? Unattractive movie titles aren't ones to be remembered and hands down a film like this coming from such a famous novel doesn't deserve such un-satisfaction.

Since 1931 John Carter has been trying to push a film-version so desperately. It all started with Looney Tunes director Bob Clampett who approached Burroughs himself with an animated-feature film idea. The film was completed in 1936 but was never released due to harsh criticism. If the film had been released however, it would have been the first American feature-length animated-film, not "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs". A bunch of different accounts occurred throughout history where different directors signed onto the project. Even in the 80s, the film was scheduled to be made to compete with "Stars Wars" but the directors found that technology just hadn't advanced well enough yet. In more modern times, Robert Rodriquez even signed on to adapt the novel. After releasing "Sin City", he expressed full interest in the project, including Frank Miller to help co-direct the film, but after a lot of controversy surrounding the project, they both decided to back down.

Then, of course, the dream director for the film helmed his hands on the project: Jon Favreau. If Favreau and Paramount Studios had been able to keep the project in his hands I truly believe that John Carter could have turned out to be the epic adaptation it deserved to be. Reading a bunch of articles on Favreau's past involvement, he certainly had a lot of passion for the project. It's a damn shame Disney took the rights back and turned it all into...well, this.

When Disney gained the rights to the project back, production began moving forward on the project in 2007, but much more closely in 2008 after Andrew Stanton released his animated masterpiece, "WALL-E". As for the direction in "John Carter", I can give Stanton plenty of credit for bringing Barsoom to life and showing how incredibly beautiful the universe that Burroughs created is. The only real issues I had with John Carter were its messy script and poor choice of actors to bring the characters to life.

After starring on NBC's well-liked series version of "Friday Night Lights", Taylor Kitsch was given the opportunity of a lifetime to play the title character, John Carter. Kitsch may have the look of John Carter and may even be a pro when it comes to the action-sequences, but his acting talents here just didn't justify the character that John Carter was in the books. Disney has already changed so much from the original product that I wish they made John Carter more of a fun character and less of a complete bore. Kitsch spits out his lines like he's in horrible pain and for us, the audience, it's tough to like such a boring character. This film was the chance for audiences around the world to know and even love John Carter, but days after the film's release I can't remember one memorable scene this film had to offer for the character.

Other performances in the film aren't as lifeless and I'll give Lynn Collins a little credit for her performance in the film as the "Princess of Mars". My only complaint is the fact that her chemistry with Taylor Kitsch is lost and almost never found. John Carter is supposed to play off as an epic love-story yet these two leads have little to no chemistry. Poor casting choices indeed and this only goes to show that Andrew Stanton is only capable of directing animated-feature films, unless the sequel (if ever made) steps it up a notch. On an animated aspect, the voice-talents of William Dafoe here are wonderful. That's about all the good that come from the film.

John Carter is an absolute visual-wonder, there's no questioning that. It only brings me back to last year's "Sucker Punch", however, where that film was highly-anticipated as well and turned out to be complete crap and nothing but bizarre eye-candy. John Carter plays out almost the exact same way only being a tad bit more enjoyable (probably because of the IMAX glazing). Reading around, a lot of people seem to be comparing John Carter to "Prince of Persia". The two are completely different films and it baffles me that people are even comparing them to each other. Since they are, I'll chip in my two cents, however; Prince of Persia is hands down a better film. It's far more fun, it has the humor, the excitement, and far more superior action-sequences. Not just that but the chemistry between both leads is fun, exciting, and it actually works. Not saying Prince of Persia was great or anything, but compared to John Carter, yes, it's a lot better.

There you have it...the first real disappointment of the year. Let the Hunger Games begin!

Thanks for the read!

-Written by Corey Wood

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Comments (32)

  1. Diaigma

    @corey - Hunger Games, man. Hunger Games! :D (which has itself a nice 100% rating, so far)

    3 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  2. Corey W.

    @diaigma HGs?

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  3. Worth5Bucks

    @diaigma ya thats true, but i dont know anyone who has any real expectations for wrath. I think the real competition is going to be hunger games.

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  4. Worth5Bucks

    @jayaottley@corey oh my gosh that would be fantastic, and even if there are still prints, disney would need to obtain the rights to them, and they might be to lazy for that

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  5. Diaigma

    @corey@mattbierwagen - with a budget of 250 M, opening at 100 M WW, it's possible to double the budget, but Carter is going to be overshadowed by Jump Street, HGs, and Wrath. It's an uphill battle from here :P

    3 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  6. Corey W.

    @jayaottley That really would. I bet there aren't any prints on the film left though, sadly.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  7. Jay.A.Ottley

    @corey same here, something tells me that would be a perfect additional content for the blu-ray

    3 years agoby @jayaottleyFlag

  8. Corey W.

    @jayaottley I wish the animated film got leaked...I wanna see it so bad.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  9. Jay.A.Ottley

    @mattbierwagen, i concur,i think the most fantastic vision would have been Harryhausen's. Who know if the 1936 version worked out and was released then maybe there would have been a push by studios for him to make it.

    I've met him twice and he even claimed that he regrets with much despair at having never made 'Princess Of Mars' when he was attached,i think he was signed up at WB or Universal to make it for them. Just listening to him how he aimed to do it, he sold me his vision.

    3 years agoby @jayaottleyFlag

  10. Worth5Bucks

    @jayaottley that would have been sweet if the film were to somehow have been made 30 years ago. I would also add that if the warner bros version had worked out in 1936 we probably would have had several versions of the film made by now, resulting in at least 1fantastic attempt

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  11. Jay.A.Ottley

    @corey good review dude, and very valid points. While Favereau's vision would have been interesting with Paramount and maybe Stanton and Paramount as @mattbierwagen stated but the interesting vision i would have liked to have saw was by Ray Harryhausen who was once attached to the project,now that would have been awesome in my opinion :)

    3 years agoby @jayaottleyFlag

  12. Worth5Bucks

    @corey whats your stance on a sequel for this film, do you think that it can be recovered with 2 more films? I personally think a bit more detail shared within 2 films could make it a lot better, but first it would have to double it's budget in theaters, like @diaigma always says. Only with this film it's more important, because it wont have consistent money flow after theaters like Tangled and other expensive Disney films did to help it out.

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  13. MovieManiac

    @corey Yes, you do have a great point. I cannot say i agree with your opinon on the film though because i haven't seen the film yet but i will take your points into consideration tomorrow when i do see the film.

    3 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag

  14. Corey W.

    @diaigma Not only was it lower than your expectation but it was I who tried you talking you into this one too, huh?! Haha, oh well :P

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  15. Corey W.

    @mattbierwagen Maybe in a year or two when the anticipation is terminated and I long forget this one I can check it out again with a more open-mind. I can admit that the score was quite impressive.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  16. Corey W.

    @moviemaniac66 Both the directing and visuals from the film are excellent. You have to remember that those aren't what make the film though. Take Transformers 2 for example. Stunning visual effects and a great director but the film lacked in everything else. Thats pretty much how JC works only the storyline is good...just not played out all too well as it was in the books.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  17. Diaigma

    @corey - you rated this lower than my already low expectations, so I'll save it for a rental later. Excellent review as always, sir! :)

    3 years agoby @diaigmaFlag

  18. Worth5Bucks

    @corey ya i understand man, I worked my butt off to keep my anticipation down. I went in expecting 2 things knowing that disney was doing it.
    1. a neat recreation of the world created 100 years ago 2. an awesome score by michael giachinno.
    It pleased both of these areas, therefore i was pleased overall. I just dont think i realized how long of a movie it needed. since the first book is only about 150 pages, I thought that it would be ok to make a shorter adaptation. but theres so many details in that movie that were left unexplained, and chunks of the story taken out. The john carter books are really more like giant screenplays than they are tiny novels...

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  19. MovieManiac

    @ejk1 - Of course there is man. I just thought that the four categories were somewhat of a basis to form your overall rating around. But it is his rating so my voice on the matter means jack sh*t :P

    3 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag

  20. ejk1

    @moviemaniac66 There is more to films than those four categories. @corey gave what he felt the film deserved overall. No need to question it, my friend.

    3 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  21. MovieManiac

    Nice review but i don't get your rating. You gave visuals story and directing 3/5, visuals 4.5/5 and acting 2/5 yet your final score is a 2/5.

    3 years agoby @moviemaniac66Flag

  22. Corey W.

    @moviegeek I'm guessing you agree with me. Good! Its about time you and I are at least somewhat close in ratings haha :P

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  23. Corey W.

    @ejk1 Thanks man. Like I said, I just built up way too much anticipation over the months. Hell, if you asked me last year what I was looking forward to more (this or TDKR), I'd probably tell you this. All that anticipation had me expecting the next great thing and well, eh, I just wasn't exceeded by them.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  24. Corey W.

    @mattbierwagen I blame Disney over Stanton far more. I know that Stanton did an incredible job. I gave him the credit for that. Everything else just disappointed me. I built up too much anticipation for this one and I was expecting the next big thing. If I was only expecting something decent, I probably would have enjoyed it more.

    3 years agoby @coreyFlag

  25. Worth5Bucks

    wow that was a long response, i may write a review lol

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  26. Worth5Bucks

    @corey Im quite confused as to why the title bugged you when it actually is titled john carter of mars, thats what the whole ending title was all about... I think the only problem this movie has is Disney. In all honesty, I think that Andrew Stanton did a great job directing the film. Princess of Mars in all honesty needs a 3 hour film, at least, to give it any justice. I guarantee that stanton want to go that route and then disney turned him down, for condensing all that a book of these proportions is down to 2 hours, stanton did a fantastic job. And personally, i also believe that if it were Stanton and paramount it would have been way better than Favreau and paramount, i honestly dont know why everybody has so much faith in Favreau, what has he done that has been truly impressive, other than Iron Man 1? And especially compared to stanton whos written 5 screenplays that are far more superior to the work of Favreau.

    As far as the acting, i think lynn collins did an awesome job. And i think taylor kisch did a decent job, i dont think theres a single actor out there who can display both the mental depth and the physical demand that john carters character has. I also dont see peoples quarrel with the action in this movie. In all honesty there is not that much action in a princess of mars, especially compared to the other books of the series. Thus, my only quarrel with john carter was the length. Had it been a 4 hour movie, it would have been fantastic, but kids dont want to watch four hour movies, hence disney is to blame.

    3 years agoby @mattbierwagenFlag

  27. ejk1

    I disagree; I'd give it a 3.5 or 4, but to each his own. Good review though, dude.

    3 years agoby @ejk1Flag

  28. Bawnian©-Dexeus

    @corey Agreed on all counts. And of course for Prince of Persia. The chemistry between the two leads was far better. Noe lets hope Hunger Games steps it up

    3 years agoby @bawnian-dexeusFlag

  29. moviegeek

    Now that's more like it... My review to come today.

    3 years agoby @moviegeekFlag

  30. SpaceCowboy

    @corey Haha, Jon Favreau DID do this. It was called Cowboys & Aliens. I was only really looking forward to JCM for Stanton's stab at live-action directing. Some adapt better like Brad Bird. All I can say is I got what I wanted from John Carter and I welcome any sequels coming in the future. Great reviews, man. I think you're getting your spark back.

    3 years agoby @SpaceCowboyFlag