Thursday, March 22, 2012

John Carter

  John Carter is a big loud adventure movie with old fashioned heroics and a straightforward plot. And theres nothing wrong with that.  Its simplicity overall may leave some viewers wanting, and its vagueness to certain details may leave other viewers confused, but despite all this odd and underperforming storytelling I don't think anyone would argue that John Carter isn't very exciting.

  With a largely unknown actor headlining the movie in the title role, it feels like a bit of a risky gamble in an age where actors are cast for popularity before they're cast for actually being right for said role. (See: The Green Hornet) This is a gamble that Disney made before, to moderate success nonetheless, with Tron Legacy. However, the advertising and tone of the marketing scheme for 'Carter brings to mind a failed Disney attempt to jumpstart a new franchise in Prince of Persia.  But not all their attempts at franchising failed. They turned some heads with the Pirates of the Carribean franchise, and despite people's personal opinions on the movies, the steady flow of PG-13's meant Disney wasn't taming this property down for kids. I was mostly optimistic John Carter was in good hands with Disney, however, looking back at the similarly marketed Prince of Persia gave me pause...

  Fear not, the dull action heavy promo scheme does little to capture the good old fashioned adventurous feeling in the movie.  It evokes an early Star Wars feel, with a simple good versus evil sensibility. There's your hero, your damsel in distress, and the bad guys.  Its a tried and true formula. We've seen this type of stuff before, but I never get tired of seeing it. What feels fresh is the look and execution of the movie. Its easy to see why it took so long to get this made properly.  Amazing special effects are manditory here. Theres a whole alien race that are practically nine feet tall, have four arms, long necks and tusks on their face. That would be hell to make convincing with subpar CGI and even worse with prosthetics and animtronics. Thank god it has been made in the right era. The post-Avatar era.

  The movie is never short of eye candy spectacle, from the sweeping desert-like Martian landscape to the gleaming glassy cities of Helium and Zodanga, their airships and locale, all of it is simply wonderous to behold.  Through the action scenes and the quieter moments, its all very colorful and interesting to look at. Visually, this movie is great. Plenty to take in.  The action scenes are of the higest swashbuckling caliber and at times they're fully enhanced by some clever tricks and alot of CGI. Good CGI mind you. It works for the real elements on the screen instead of replacing them.

  The actors do wonderfully in their roles and although you may not see anyone reconizable headlining this thing, there are plenty of familiar and famous actors peppered throughout supporting roles. It raises the standard I think, and it shows. There are real emotions on display here. You can see it. There isn't any 'weak link' that stood out to me. I was pleasantly surprised all around.
  And overall John Carter is a fun, classically minded ride thats full to the brim of high-flying action, genuine humor, and plenty of charm to make up for its narrative shortcomings. I fully recommend this movie. Its an ideal summer flick. Hopefully the blu ray will hit right smack in the middle of a summer heat wave, it'd be the one to buy.

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