Tuesday, May 29, 2012

John Carter Review

On a memorial day afternoon when I found myself all alone, I decided to venture out to the Dollar Theater to hopefully enjoy a movie. John Carter was my choice. Now the story behind John Carter certainly isn't a happy one. Disney invested a ton in this movie. It was almost the first animated movie ever made, but that fell through and now close to a hundred years later, it finally comes out as a live action thriller. Not only was there a time investment with this, there was a huge financial investment as well. Disney was so certain that this was going to be a hit that they spent $250M making it. They released in on the second weekend of March with very little competition. Perfect plan for success right? Uh, not so fast. Something went wrong along the way with the marketing and advertising and this movie fell flat on its face. It only barely broke even with a worldwide total of $280M, which 75% of which came from outside the US as it only earned $70M here in the states. A movie that took $250M to make should earn more than $70M here. So yes, this is an instance where the term high risk, high reward turns disaster. The worst part of this is the fact that after finally seeing it, I thought this was a good movie that was definitely deserving of the big dollars that it was supposed to but didn't get.

John Carter the movie is based on the Barsoom books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900's. Specifically it is based on the first book in that series titled Princess of Mars. I have not read any of the books, but the series along with other works by Burroughs have been an inspiration to many writers. Now being that I have not read the books, I am not capable of comparing the book to the movie, so I apologize if you were looking for that connection, but the story I was given in the movie I really enjoyed. Captain John Carter, a civil war veteran from Virginia finds himself mysteriously transported to the planet of Mars, or as the natives there call it, Barsoom. When he gets there he quickly learns that due to a difference in gravity amongst other factors he can leap far and consequently become really strong. This makes him a great warrior and weapon in the war that he quickly learns that he has been thrown right into. The story is one of him finding out who he truly is as he battles internally between finding a way back home, chasing after the runaway princess, and deciding if he wants to help save the planet from destruction. It is a story with heart and bravery that has a great combination of action and romance. 

What else was good about it? The special effects were brilliant. You could tell that a lot of time and effort was put into creating the Barsoom world and creatures. The CGI aliens were quite brilliant and, as the credits informed me, shooting at least a portion of this movie in the great Martian-like scenery of Moab, Utah was a great idea. I thought the acting was great in the movie, especially Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins as the lead roles of John Carter and Princess Dejah Thoris respectively. I thought the costume design was well done as that made it feel like we were on Mars. However, of note is that this may be disturbing to some as several of the outfits are quite revealing particularly that of the Princess of which her outfit towards the end is the worst. Lastly I would like to mention that the music was fantastic and added greatly to the movie. Michael Giacchino, best known in my books at least for his brilliant music in the TV series Lost, was a great choice for this movie.

This movie was obviously intended on being a huge blockbuster hit with multiple sequels if it was successful. I am saddened that it didn't work out as expected and sadly I have a hard time seeing another John Carter movie hitting theaters after this one was an epic failure in the Box Office. But great movie that makes me want to pick up the books and read them. I am giving this an 8 out of 10.

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