Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One Minute Movie Review: John Carter

Edger Rice Burrough's The Martian-Barsoom-John Carter Series, which began in 1917, was the absolute precursor to the modern science fiction saga which spawned such historical legacies as Star Wars, Star Trek, and many others. Literary speaking, Burrough's books are epic in scope, groundbreaking, and fantastic, so presenting them in celluloid is quite a daunting task. The biggest obstacle is that those afore mentioned legacies have already been presented, so comparisons to their sweep and design are unavoidable. The mistake would be to call this film a copy of those as Burrough's concepts were conceived long before. If the comparison is made, John Carter appears to be more cartoonish and archiac, an unfortunate characterization. In order to accurately critique the film, the focus needs to be on Disney's interpretation of the media, and it's product. In viewing it from that perspective one discovers that these magnificent novels were not given the cinematic respect they truly deserve. The first error was placing this ambitious effort in the hands of a director, Andrew Stanton, who has exclusively created animation tales such as Wall-E, A Bug's Life, and Finding Nemo. These are cute, heartfelt, family triumphs, but, by no means, the resume of a director chosen to attempt to master a Sci-Fi blockbuster. Second, choice of a leading actor for the part of Carter was crucial. His role not only supports the story but propels it. Taylor Kitsch is by no means the player to pull that off. Third and finally, the demonstration of a lack of confidence in a picture is when the studio tries to do too much in too little time, evident in this manifestation. There are several books revealing Burrough's vision, which should have, resulted in the formulation of several movies. Instead, too much is poured into this first installment which lengthed it to a degree that it is stretched too thin. This dilutes key elements of the story in the rush to fit everything in, which is a shame. With all that said, this is a visually stunning production magestic in imagery. When the action occurs, it is exciting and engaging, and the battle sequences rival many of its ilk. However, just as the positives begin to rise to the surface, more negatives are also unveiled. The acting is mediocre and predictable, and the plot moves along too slowly for the tempo required for this type of an adventure. I think Burrough's might have been mostly pleased by the outcome, but he also might have found it lacking in the substance he poured into his craft. 2 out of 5 Kernels: it falls definitively short as a cinematic retelling of a literary classic.

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