Not as bad as you’ve been lead to believe . . .

Almost a century later Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter character finally makes it to the big screen . . . only to flop big time!

The movie was a critical and (worse) a box office disaster resulting in a $200 million loss for Disney.

Peter Bradshaw in The Guardian described it as a “giant, suffocating doughy feast of boredom.” BBC film critic Mark Kermode stated  that  ”the story telling is incomprehensible, the characterization is ludicrous, the story is two and a quarter hours long and it’s a boring, boring, boring two and a quarter hours long.”

So is it really as bad as they say? webmaster James O’Ehley finally got to see it on home media and here are his thoughts:

What We Liked:

- The movie is indeed a technical marvel as the Daily Telegraph called it. It’s a pity that many people will probably wind up seeing it on DVD or Blu-ray instead of on the big screen. Special effects have come a long way indeed and it is all rather brilliantly done.

- The Tharks! They are the best thing in the movie, much more interesting and expressive than any of the human actors. If studios can sell movies such as Avatar and Rise of the Planet of the Apes to audiences as special effects wonders, then why didn’t Disney make more out of John Carter’s impressive visuals in their marketing materials?

- Some unexpected humor and light touches. We also appreciated the fact that John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) couldn’t immediately master one of those flying scooter thingies. Also that they don’t actually speak English on an alien planet.

- We just love movies in which aliens have different colored blood. Blue in this case.

- The movie is intended as an adventure for young boys and succeeds as that. It is faithful to the spirit if not the letter of the original pulp Burroughs tales.

- Lynn Collins!

What We Didn’t Like:

- The critics have a point: a lot of exposition is dumped in the audience’s laps pretty early on. It takes a while to pick up. Don’t worry about all the unpronounceable names though and just go with the flow. There’s no need to take notes.

- Fans who moan that critics unfairly “killed” John Carter at the box office. Critics can’t really destroy a movie because no-one listens to them. If people did listen to them, then movies such as Pearl Harbor, Pirates 3 and Transformers 2 would have bombed at the box office. Blame Disney’s marketing and the lame title they settled on for the fact that you’ll never get to see any John Carter sequels . . . ever! (Mainstream movies don’t know who the heck John Carter is. Neither do they know who Alex Cross or Jack Reacher is, which spells doom for those two upcoming movies too. Doesn’t Hollywood learn anything?)

- Taylor Kitsch has the physique and the looks to play Burroughs’ hero, but he is simply bland and unmemorable. Rome actor James Purefoy appears briefly in the movie only to remind viewers of that HBO series that he probably would have been a better choice to play the lead. This movie and Battleship probably spells the end for the unfortunately named Kitsch’s Hollywood blockbuster ambitions.

- We missed those skimpy Frazetta costume designs. Then again, this is a PG movie.

- Another hero with a tragic “back story” namely a dead wife in this case. Sigh. This is such a Hollywood cliché and a lazy way for screenwriters to imbue their characters with “depth.” At least John Carter didn’t have any daddy issues . . .

- Not enough cleavage. Movies like this should feature some cleavage.



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Category: Movies, Reviews

About the Author

James has been running The Sci-Fi Movie Page since Before the Beginning of Time Itself (TM), i.e. since the site's inception in 1997. In addition to sci-fi James also likes 1970s motorbikes and chili dogs although he doesn't own the former and no longer eats the latter. He currently resides in Kiev, Ukraine for reasons best left unexplained.

  • dc4sense

    Layers of plots not in the original story took the story in useless directions. The characters were ok, and the Tharks were good too. Just the plot sucked.

  • John Gerry

    Honestly I liked the movie.. I wish there were going to be more. I think that while the story is classic.. very few people have actually read the books. If you’ve got nothing invested in the universe you’re not going to understand a few things they just glossed over. Aka telepathy being the main way of communication in barsoom. The evil empire bent they went on was unnecessary but well I can forgive it that much and it does take some from the other books obviously setting up for sequels that will never happen sadly. ahh well.



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