Made for about 250 million bucks plus (reputed to take the U.S. Government no more than 5 minutes to print and spend), John Carter is exactly the sort of project they would waste our money on and call it a success. In this case it’s money wasted by the Walt Disney Studios and anyone with who shelled out their cash at the box office. Me, for instance.
Disney must have thought, “how can we lose?” when they hired Andrew Stanton, instrumental in writing and guiding Pixar films like the three Toy Story movies as well as Wall-E, Finding Nemo, Monsters Inc. and A Bug’s Life to reap enormous financial success and popular acclaim.
In more ways than one, John Carter is a different story. Originally penned as a pulp magazine serial in 1912, it was authored by the creator of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs. In this new film version of the story, all that remains from ERB are the names of the characters and the planet Mars AKA Barsoom.
The movie itself is a replica of other films and looks quite a bit like deleted scenes from Star Wars, Avatar and Waterworld, for a long two hours. The only place Disney may have saved money on this extravagant mess was with dusted off costumes put back to use from another big Disney money debacle, King Arthur (2004).
The story itself concerns Martians/Barsoomians who are a group of Avatar rejects and Roman soldiers from Ben Hur. They are both fighting another group of bad guys who are led by a couple of characters who can become invisible, change shapes and travel to anywhere in the universe by shimmering. JC manages to jump planets somehow in 1869 and end up in the middle of the battle. He is played by Canadian actor Taylor Kitsch who seems to bring a new dimension to wooden performances. JC jumps around like a guy who just ingested methamphetamine-laced jumping beans and romances the local princess. While there are a few sequences that look spectacular, as the budget suggests they should, all of them are right out of the movies listed above. The original author of the series, Edgar Rice Burroughs, is used as a character during the 1881 portions of the story. Even as a character in a movie based on one of his own stories he looks like he would rather be on Mars. Skip the movie and eat the candy bar.
Rated 1.0 out of 4.0 NO SEQUELS PLEASE. Note: I am pleased to say I saw this film in Real 3-D and it actually looks almost in focus.