By: Jarred Braxton
The novel that provided the source material and inspiration for “Star Wars” and “Avatar” has finally come to the big screen in “John Carter.”
Based on the classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the film stars Taylor Kitsch (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”) as the title character, a disillusioned former Confederate soldier who has lost his concept of humanity and is trying to find his way in the world.
As he is searching for gold in a remote area of the Arizona territories, he is inexplicably whisked away to a strange world where he can jump for great distances, there are green people with four arms and tusks called Tharks, giant white apes with four legs, desert as far as the eye can see and vehicles that can fly.
After a while, Carter finds himself in the middle of a war between two great civilizations orchestrated by ethereal beings called Therns, led by Matai Shang, played by veteran movie villain Mark Strong (“Sherlock Holmes,” “Green Lantern”).
The Therns have set the two of the main Martian cultures, Zodanga and Helium, against each other, and Carter finds himself smack in the middle of their feud.
To make matters more complicated, Carter is bedazzled by the beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris of Helium, played by Lynn Collins (“X-Men Origins: Wolverine”), who can end the conflict if she weds the Zodangan prince Sab Than, played by Dominic West (“Arthur Christmas”).
If Carter is to be the hero Dejah is hoping for, he must leave whatever tragedies he suffered in the Civil War on Earth, accept his fate on Mars, and lead whatever forces he can to foil the Therns’ plot to cause war between the Zodangans and Heliumites.
Academy Award-winning director Andrew Stanton (“WALL-E,” “Finding Nemo”) took on a very expensive challenge in “John Carter,” but he didn’t exactly live up to expectations as the film overall was practically ho-hum.
Appreciation should be given to the great amount of detail going into the visual effects. The aliens and the flying ships were very sharply depicted on the screen.
As for the overall story and execution of “John Carter,” it is safe to say that more could have been done with this movie.
This story has been the inspiration and structure of countless science fiction stories and some of those films, such as “Star Wars,” and “Avatar,” took great liberties and risks and transcended the level of where sci-fi films can go.
The problem with John Carter is that it lacks originality. It’s ironic because in its time it was a completely original concept for a book to take its entire plot and have it set on the planet Mars, or Barsoom as it is called, but the movie is completely underdone in the terms of writing and overall direction.
Stanton struck gold with directing animated features for Disney, but it looks like he completely struck out with “John Carter.”
Kitsch’s performance as the title character was average at best. He doesn’t exactly give his role any type of distinguishing flavor.
The same could be said for Collins and Strong. In fact, none of the characters were particularly memorable, no matter if they were human or alien.
“John Carter” is visually decent but it lacks any substance that makes it unique. Its overall problem is that it leaves something to be desired.