Andrew Stanton’s John Carter
of Mars caused a huge dent in Disney’s financial status
and as a result the film’s failure was largely to blame. So poor was John Carter of Mars’ box office
performance that Disney had to put the movie’s sequels on hold, but John Carter of Mars has performed better
in the home media market as well as gaining a rather feisty fan base.
The film is based on a 100 year old story by Edgar Rice Burroughs entitled John Carter of Mars which tells the tale of Civil War Veteran John Carter who, via some device thingamabob (Medallion), is transported to the planet Barsoom (aka Mars) where he finds that Mars is not a baronless wasteland, but a planet in which many vibrant societies are crumbling due to a bitter war. Anywho it is the two cities of Helium (no squeaky voices in this film, which is a shame as it would have livened proceedings considerably) and Zodanga that are engaged in a 1000 year long war (not sure why). John Carter finds himself right in the middle of this war after rescuing Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) for no other reason than because she is human. Due to Carter’s impressive jumping abilities and sheer strength (because of his bone density and Mars’ low gravity) he can be of instrumental use in bid to end the seemingly never ending war. Mixed in with this are back stories and forced marriages; it is all very confusing.
The thing that was most brought to my attention concerning John Carter
Mars was the sheer lack of respect the studios show its paying audience.
Under the studio’s insistence the marketing department for John Carter of Mars believed it to be a good idea to remove the words
‘of Mars’ from the title leaving the film to be called John Carter believing that the words ‘of Mars’ would give away the
fact that John Carter of Mars is science fiction, thus
decreasing box office figures. A number of issues with this, firstly Avatar (a Science fiction film) made
more money than the GDP of the entire African continent. Secondly it is
insulting to the audience’s intelligence that they would think people would not
realize that John Carter of Mars is a
Science fiction movie just because the words ‘of mars’ were removed from the
title and thirdly it highlights the fact that as long as we pay for a ticket
the studios do not give a monkeys about us. It makes me wonder why I should
give the studios respect by funding their empire by paying for this film, but
however paying for this film gives the filmmaker the respect he deserves
(despite the fact the sounded a complete muppet on Mark Kermode and Simon
Mayo’s radio show) by paying for the finished product. This is exactly what I
did (and I always do when I review a film) and because I am paying customer I have
the right to criticize, yes?
Hollywood blockbusters have often been labelled dumb fun; John Carter
is certainly dumb but it is equally certainly isn’t fun for a colossal number
of reasons. One issue is that John Carter
of Mars is a typical, soulless and dire Hollywood affair but the most
pressing issue is that these words can be used to describe Taylor Kitsch’s
utterly one dimensional performance. Can the blame for the failure of his
character (and as a result the film) be completely applied to him? No, that is
unfair because the character is a detestable moron who believes that, despite
being completely surrounded by hostiles on an alien planet, it is a good idea
to fight his way to freedom. Clearly rather selfish, motivated only gold and a desire
to get home, Carter gets himself in a war by inexplicably saving some princess.
The character’s personality seems to change every so often for unexplainable
reasons, however matters are not helped by the fact that Kitsch delivers his
lines in a way that reminiscent of Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation. Furthermore Kitsch delivers his lines so
slowly that it seems as though he is struggling to remember his next line.
Yet Taylor Kitsch’s emotionless performance is the tip of a very large iceberg, joining him in the movie’s collection of uninteresting characters and performances is Lynn Collins who shares such a low level of chemistry with her co-star that the two central characters might as well be on different planets. Their badly written love affair is horribly written, so much so that it is difficult to care what happens to pair of them. Thankfully there are some decent supporting performances by Ciarán Hinds (as Tardos Mors) and Dominic West (as Sab Than) who both do a great job in keeping a straight face when delivering the inane and silly dialogue they were given, on the other hand Mark Strong’s talents are wasted in a thankless role as a unthreatening villain with no interesting features. The dialogue is complete drivel (‘you are ugly, but you are beautiful’) and the film is completely lacking in humour of which was sorely needed. The visuals do look good, but with a budget of $250,000,000 that really is to be expected. Some good set and costume designs make the film nice to look at but John Carter
of Mars is as empty
as Mars’ huge landscapes.
of Mars is one of those films where a white
American manages to have enough presence to command an entire indigenous
population as well as the power to almost wipe out an entire army. John Carter of Ma rs is like a cross
between Avatar, Clash of the Titans and Star Wars Attack of the Clones. The
biggest issue is not the film is boring but the fact that the film lacks a
likable hero and it is boring because of that.