John Carter Review

A man with a heavy beard walks into a bar and, while everybody knows his name, they’re not entirely glad he came.

This is John Carter, the year is 1860 something and his frosty reception can be explained by the rather large unpaid bar bill he’s racked up.

After displaying some rudimentary yet brutally effective skills of persuasion, and a quick hand on his gun, Carter is whisked away by some equally diplomatic cavalrymen.

Waking up in chains and non-hangover induced headache, our eponymous hero is urged to enlist so he can help the Confederate armies with their noble cause of eradicating the indigenous Native Americans from their homeland.

For as much as Carter would like to forget his past, military or otherwise, the world around him seems less keen.

As befits a veteran cavalryman famous for his heroic deeds on the battlefield, Carter quickly escapes his new hosts less than salubrious surroundings and flees to a nearby cave after a Mexican standoff with the present and future tenants of America’s lands.

Once there, an alien being materialises and is just as swiftly slain after attacking Carter; but not before transporting a man running to escape his past to an extra terrestrial future.

John Carter is Disney’s latest 3D adventure and is based on the classic Barsoom novels written by Tarzan Creator Edgar Rice Burroughs.

With a Harry Potter shaped hole to fill in cinema schedules, it seems major film studios are now ready to use advances in technology to restore the movie blockbuster to the screens of our multiplexes.

Taylor Kitsch plays the titular character of John Carter, and is as convincing as you need be when playing a muscle bound hero able to leap alien buildings in a single bound in nothing more than a loin cloth.

The supporting cast is strong, with a number of familiar faces and voices on display, as well as a not so familiar one in the shapely form of Lynn Collins as a Martian Princess with a penchant for revealing clothing.

But while the special effects are out of this world, the script really isn’t.

Having never read the books, it’s difficult to know just how many liberties director and co- writer Andrew Stanton took with his source material.

But the coherency of John Carter’s alien narrative and characters seems to have got lost in translation; leaving us with some rather predictable heroes and villains we’re supposed to immediately identify with or despise, running amok in a barely understandable premise.

It’s by no means a bad film, but the story needed to be able to match the stellar special effects employed.

Put simply, it doesn’t.

So if you fancy taking a break from all your worries, you could do a lot worse than check out John Carter.

Just don’t be surprised if you can’t remember anyone’s name afterwards.

Jonathan Campbell

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Dates ‘n stuff

March 2012