John Carter is pretty disappointing. However, despite its many flaws which there are a lot of, it is an enjoyable film and quite entertaining.
I was initially drawn to the film by an early trailer (which stuck with me due to the awesome Peter Gabriel track) that revealed some spectacular visual effects. It looked incredible and in that respect the film does not disappoint. But this is probably the only area where it doesn’t.
It had such potential with interesting characters and a great storyline but unfortunately both were majorly underdeveloped. Firstly you are thrown into the thick of things way too quickly and with no real introduction to our main character, John Carter, and secondly there are way too many things happening at once and between so many characters that are never really explained, neither is the relationship between them. You spend the majority of the film asking why, how, and what is going on? So many questions are raised but never answered or referred to again, and as a result the characters come across one-dimensional and storylines, that on paper seem meaty, lack substance. So much of the narrative is fuelled by history and character back-story that is never revealed, so you constantly question character motivations. A lot of time is spent travelling back and forth across Mars, but it does little to propel the story forward. If anything this was a great opportunity to explore John Carters character but by the end you still know barely anything about him.
This is only the first in what will hopefully be a trilogy of films, so it puzzles me why the events in John Carter are so rushed. The majority of the first instalment should have been dedicated to setting up John Carters character prior to his transportation to Mars, giving his character depth and the viewer time to associate with him. Instead he comes across like an empty vessel, leaving me to question all his actions. Only in the last third of the film should his character have travelled to Mars, setting up a few of the storylines ready to explore in the second film. “Move over Andrew Stanton (Director/Screenplay), I think I should take over from here. You stick to animation which you are incredible at and obviously more suited!!! However, it’s a decent first try in the realm of live-action, and maybe you’ll do better next time round. I hope.”
Although it’s a clear lack of depth and exploration of key plot points that contributed heavily to the film’s failure, the acting should also be held accountable with some of the worst acting I’ve seen in some time.
Such a disappointing turn from one of my favourite British actors Dominic West who is incredible in The Wire, and Appropriate Adult …….which I also star in. (When I say ‘star’ in, I am referring to a two second clip where they show a picture of me as Mary Bastholm, one of Fred West’s (Dominic West) victims.) It has been a highlight in my acting career and one of the few times I’ve been star struck. Shame I was dressed like this when we met. Oh the shame!
Anyway, back to John Carter. There are so many great actors in it but none gave a particularly impressive performance. That is except for Taylor Kitsch who plays leading man John Carter. His performance, aside from the incredible imagery, is the films only other redeeming quality. He gives an engaging performance and carries the film effortlessly, combining the perfect blend of comedy, tender moments, and an on-screen charm and charisma that is impossible to turn away from. His incredible body helps too. He’s a fresh face on the Hollywood scene having only appeared as minor characters in a handful of films before John Carter. Appearing in X-men Origins: Wolverine as Gambit, and in the Covenant as Pogue Parry are probably his two most notable roles before John Carter and the yet to be released Battleship where he will again take centre stage. This could well be his year, propelling him among other A-list leading men such as Michael Fassbender, Ryan Gosling, Tom Hardy, Chris Pine and many many more.
John Carter is far far far from a great film, but it’s not a complete disaster. And with two more films hopefully in the pipeline, has plenty of time to redeem itself.
However, I can’t rate a film by its future potential, and as a stand alone film it scrapes a 5/10. 😦