- Director:Andrew Stanton
- Cast:Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Ciaran Hinds, Taylor Kitsch, Samantha Morton
- Release Date:March 08, 2012
- Running time:132 minutes
- Film Worth:$15.50
- FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth
Despite occasional moments of silliness, the old-fashioned sense of adventure and brilliantly rendered aliens elevate this above other derivative big-budget sci-fi fare.
In an ironic twist, it's the antiquated roots of the big budget sci-fi flick, John Carter, that give it a fresh, invigorating feel. With the genre lately ruled by big, rumbling, hi-tech explosion-filled extravaganzas like Transformers, John Carter's old-time adventure and off-world imagination comes sweeping in like a breath of cleansing air. Based principally on Edgar Rice Burroughs' 1912 novel, The Princess Of Mars, but also taking in elements of the many books that would follow featuring his hero, John Carter, this live action directorial debut from animator, Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-E), has more in common with Flash Gordon and the original Star Wars trilogy than it does with most of the sci-fi and fantasy being turned out by movie studios today.
Preludes and framing devices aside (with Daryl Sabara playing a young Edgar Rice Burroughs), the action essentially kicks off when US Civil War veteran and adventurer, John Carter (the suitably heroic and gravelly voiced Taylor Kitsch), is whisked off to Mars (something to do with all-knowing beings whipping around the universe and sticking their noses into other planets' business...or something), where he finds a world of red dust, ten-foot-tall aliens with six arms, over-used British actors (Ciaran Hinds, Mark Strong, Dominic West, James Purefoy), and people dressed up like Roman centurions. Initially a source of fascination and confusion, John Carter eventually becomes involved in a blazing war between the two feuding tribes of Mars, or as they call it, Barsoom.
While much of the poncing about by Barsoom's humanoid inhabitants is silly and a little tiresome, the real excitement comes with John Carter's interactions with the Tharks, the aforementioned ten-foot-tall aliens with six arms. Brilliantly rendered and performed by, amongst others, Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton, in motion capture, these fierce, enjoyably aggressive creatures are far more compelling than most of the humans in the film. Their customs and rituals are expertly portrayed, and it's these imaginatively constructed Martians that give John Carter most of its heart and feeling. When combined with the burning red vistas of Barsoom, a couple of thrilling action set pieces, Kitsch's strong central turn, and a throwback romantic tone, it makes up for the moments of silliness that occasionally dot the alien landscape of John Carter.