Movie Review: ‘John Carter’

March 12, 2012 at 12:00 am | Posted in Movies, Reviews, Sci-Fi | 1 Comment

I was interested in this movie after I saw the first trailer. The clips were confusing and I had no idea what the movie was about, but it was sci-fi and part of it looked like elements from Star Wars. Even though the name seemed dull, it was enough to get me looking forward to it. Then I discovered that it was based off a book which was available for free via Amazon. I dove into the book and found a very enjoyable story that had some good characters, world building, and intellectual plots. At this point, I was pretty anxious to see if the film could pull it off.

A fair word of warning to anyone whose read the book A Princess of Mars, the book this movie is based off of: the movie does not follow the book…at all. Oh there is certainly a main character named John Carter who goes to Mars. He runs into aliens and saves a princess. The names didn’t change, but the story did. In fact the movie follows the book in only the most vaguest of terms. Having read the book, I found it very difficult to enjoy watching the movie simply because every scene reminded me that none of this was in the book.

Setting the book aside, the movie did have some good points. The visuals were really good and the Martian technology looked cool. The green, red, and white Martians all looked real enough that it didn’t drop you out of the movie or suspend your belief. Overall the CGI was well done, and in my opinion, the best part of the entire film was Woola.

Woola is John Carter’s trusty companion on Mars. He’s a six legged dog that looks like a toad. He’s extremely fast and faithful. This was one of the things the movie was able to do that didn’t contradict the book. On top of it all, the film turned Woola into the cutest pet I’ve ever scene in a film. As ugly as the creature is, he’s easily the cutest alien ever. The animation nailed the gestures and motions of Woola. He genuinely feels like a living creature and just oozes faithful companion. I would almost recommend everyone see this film just so they can see Woola. It might not be worth a movie ticket, but you would owe it to yourself to watch it on DVD or Netflix.

Although the film tossed the book to the wind, they did do something very sneaky to explain it. The way the film goes, they introduce Edgar Rice Burroughs as one of the characters. Burroughs was the real life author of the book A Princess of Mars. By putting him in the film, they provide the explanation that the book is thus based off the events of this film. This gives them room to do whatever they want without actually contradicting the book. It’s kind of like how Star Trek used time travel to pave the way for new films without having to worry about what’s already been done. Maybe this would have been easier for me to swallow if I knew this was the angle they were going with from the get go. Alas, in the end, it just didn’t work for me.

The biggest problem with John Carter is not that they went their own way, but that the story they went with is inferior to the book. The story in the film is not anything exceptional. John Carter is just an average plot. The acting was good, the visuals were good, but the story is only mildly entertaining. It hurts the film overall. The hard part to understand is why? Why redo the story when the original was really good? Why blaze a new path that’s only mediocre?

In the end, I would not recommend going to see John Carter in the theater. This is a straight to DVD quality flick. It’s not exceptional, and the special effects don’t require the big screen treatment of a theater. For those who haven’t read the book, you might enjoy it, but don’t expect a blockbuster. This isn’t Star Wars, be it A New Hope or The Phantom Menace.

Reviewed By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

1 Comment »

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  1. I agree, the books story line and characters were completely different, from Tars Tarkas to John Carter. This could have been a great movie like Lord of the Rings if they would of stuck to the original story and developed those characters over a couple movies. Disappointed in the movie.

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