Film Review : John Carter

Andrew Stephens, Sunday the 8th of April, 2012 in Films, Science Fiction

Still frame from John CaterAfter fighting in the American civil war (on the wrong side), cavalryman turned prospector John Carter is mysteriously transported to Mars, arriving in a time of great calamity. War is raging here as well, can Carter's presence change things for the better?

According to some reports the film is a costly flop and I can see why. Up until a couple of weeks ago there was a giant billboard for this movie right next to the train station I walk to each morning, a billboard that made John Carter look like one of the stupidest films ever made. The trailer also looks terrible, and I am not sure why they went with the most generic title possible. I went into the theatre with low expectations.

I am glad to say that the advertising campaign is misleading, John Carter is actually pretty cool. Based on a very old book by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who appears as part of the framing story), its hero is forced into all sorts of action-packed scenes as he bounds around Mars aided by his Earth-gravity adapted muscles. The pacing is excellent, the plot covers a lot of ground but everything is well explained and the film knows when to stop, unlike a certain other human-hanging-out-with-large-aliens-and-horning-in-on-the-princess film I could mention. The characters are only drawn with the broadest strokes, but the ink is colourful and such a pulpy canvas cannot be expected to take a finer brushwork.

A decent addition to the list of watchable popcorn films. Recommended.