John Carter

Directed By: Andrew Stanton

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, and Willem Dafoe

John Carter is a movie that's destined to be a flop.  With a hefty $250 million dollar production budget and a lot of negative pre-release buzz, Disney stands to lose some big bucks.  With all this negative attention surrounding the movie, it should be hard to watch and critique John Carter objectively.  I don't give a damn about any of that though.  Having seen the film, I can't say that it's anything but awesome.

It's 1868, and decorated former Confederate soldier John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is on the hunt for gold.  The only problem is that he can't do it in peace.  Colonel Powell (Bryan Cranston) needs someone like Carter on the battlefield to help fight off the Apache Indians. Powell makes an offer, but Carter refuses it.  Carter claims that he has no dog in this fight.  The colonel will do anything to get Carter to fight by his side, including throwing him in jail.  When the Virginia native breaks out of prison though, he still somehow ends up on the battlefield with Powell and the Apaches.  Powell's forces are getting torn to shreds, so Powell and Carter flee.  While on the run, Carter gets into a fight with a mysterious figure and gets transported to Mars.

Having landed on Mars, also known as Barsoom, John Carter learns that he's stronger than he's ever been.  He also can now jump abnormally high.  Carter then encounters the Tharks, a powerful race of green creatures that cohabitates the planet with humanoids.  Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), the jeddak (leader) of the Tharks, sees something special in Carter though, so he takes him back to his homeland as a prisoner.  When Princess Deja Thoris (Samantha Morton) of Helium brings the destructive conflict of the humanoid race to the Tharks' homelands, the Barsoomians get to see what John Carter can really do.  With Tars and Deja having witnessed Carter’s abilities, they each want him to fight for their causes.  Carter is now involved in another fight in which he has no dog.

John Carter is an adaptation of the Barsoom novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  These novels from the early twentieth century are the predecessors to many of the tales we've come to know and love.  Would Kal-El have ever come to earth and gained superpowers if John Carter hadn't done the same first?  Would Luke Skywalker have ever joined the rebellion and taken up arms against the evil galactic empire?  Hell, would Jake Sully have ever gone to Pandora?  As you can see with Superman, Star Wars, and Avatar, John Carter has influenced a great deal of the mythology behind many modern tales.  This definitely shows in the film as Andrew Stanton brings us a classic tale with which we're all too familiar.

With impressive special effects and strong performances from the cast, director Andrew Stanton delivers the first real blockbuster of 2012 with John Carter.  Stanton turns Mars into a rich, vivid world.  He makes a barren wasteland appear worthwhile.  In terms of acting, Taylor Kitsch does a great job as Carter himself.  He delivers lots of great action and plenty of laughs.  Mark Strong is a terrific villain for the film.  He's cold and heartless.  He brings some acting chops to the table that can't be denied.  Finally, Willem Dafoe is a welcome addition to the cast.  Whether playing the Green Goblin or a giant green alien, he always brings his best to the table.

Though it won't get the attention or success it deserves, John Carter is a film I absolutely love.  I'll be the first to admit that the movie has a few cheesy moments, but those are forgivable.  During the film, I totally lost any sense of time and became immersed in that big red planet next door.  You'll only need a couple of wine coolers for this one.  John Carter gets a 0.03% rating.