Film Review : John Carter

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.