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John Carter (2012)
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
For intense sequences of violence and action
Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, Thomas Hayden Church, Willem Dafoe
Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon
John Carter (2012)
The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter, who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris. In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.
John Carter (2012) | Review
Captures The Fun Of Star Wars
The biggest problem with the film is that it almost tries to tell too much story. Indeed, the final 15 or 20 minutes could have been a movie of its own. There's a lot to absorb in being introduced to the many new concepts and characters and factions and mythology that John Carter brings. Still, Andrew Stanton (Of Wall-E and Finding Nemo fame) never lets the expansive amounts of exposition get out hand. He also doesn't rush things, which allows the various characters to breathe. As you would expect from any director coming out of Pixar, this is where the strength of the film lies. Despite the fact that there's a lot to explain and plenty of action, it's never at the expense of developing a character. If anything, it might have been better for this film to be broken down into two parts to allow these characters even more room to develop as they all have interesting stories that are necessarily truncated to keep the movie's pace from getting bogged down.
I never watched Friday Night Lights, so Taylor Kitsch was a complete unknown to me. Considering how much his character has been through, I don't think he was quite grizzled enough for me to fully buy his back-story. Indeed, I often had a hard time reconciling his impressively gruff voice with his boyish good looks. He sounds tougher than he looks, but handles the action scenes just fine. He seems to be a capable leading man and does a quality job with role of John Carter.
Willem Dafoe, however, must have had a lot of fun with his part as the Martian leader Tars Tarkas, or at least it seems like he did. While not quite a performance on the same level of Andy Serkis in Rise of the Planet of the Apes, it's still a solid performance for something that was motion captured while the guy was on stilts (that must have been tough). Dafoe's character is a lot of fun and has one of the most interesting story arcs, one I wish there was more time for it. The rest of the cast also handles themselves ably, with Mark Strong playing a suitably nebulous villain and Lynn Collins providing more than just eye candy and love interest with her portrayal of Princess Dejah as a strong, determined, smart woman who just wants what's best for her people but struggles with how much that may cost her personally (who wouldn't?).
One of the key character moments is when Princess Dejah tells John Carter that the reason she ran away was because she was looking for another way to help save her people, and she found John Carter. Now Carter doesn't want to have any part of fighting for a cause or to save a people, but that doesn't mean he isn't qualified for the job. In fact, seeing as how Mars' lighter gravity gives him greater agility, strength, and the ability to "leap tall buildings in a single bound," he is uniquely qualified to be the other way the Princess was searching for.
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