Remarkable but Soulless
16 March 2012
Director: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Jim Morris / Collin Wilson / Lindsey Collins
Scriptwriting: Andrew Stanton / Mark Andrews / Michael Chabon / Edgar Rice Burroughs (novel)
Casts: Taylor Kitsch / Lynn Collins / Samantha Morton / Ciaran Hinds
Cinematography: Daniel Mindel
Editing: Eric Zumbrunnen
Music: Michael Giacchino
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures
Distributor: Walt Disney Studios
Runtime: 132 minutes
Budget: $250 million
The story of John Carter comes from the first series of Barsoom books, A Princess of Mars (1917). There are total 11 novels of it which most of them tell the story the adventure of John Carter in the planet of Mars (Barsoom). This adventure fantasy film is set in 1868 about a gold miner man from Virginia, US, John Carter, who was accidentally stranded in Mars. Lighter gravity of the planet gave him stronger physical ability and jump so high. There, Carter came in the middle of great dispute between the tribes inhabiting the planet. He was praised like a god and people called him Dotar Sojat. In the other hand, he needed to find himself a way to come home to earth.
A genre like this assures the films rich visual effects like what we also have in John Carter. 3D is obviously a better choice to enjoy the movie than the 2D. The CGI it’s so great and convincing especially in the scenes in Mars. Live action and the digital images are hardly distinguishable either in setting, characters, planes, and others. As far as we can see, John Carter is one of the best films with great CGI achievement. It appears that every cent of the budget is paid off.
This film reminds us to typical titles such as The Time Machine and Star Wars: Attack of The Clone. The advanced visual effect however cannot hide the fact that there is something that separates audience from the film. The plot might run too fast or maybe the characterization is poor, even the consideration about its artificiality could be the reason for that. Whatever it is, it seems that we cannot build a bond with the characters. In short, it’s like John Carter needs more soul.
John Carter offers mostly and merely the visual achievement. The story is too old-fashioned for the movie lovers nowadays, just like Tintin. Making big fantasy or science fiction like this is definitely not easy but in fact, many of them succeed. Mediocre sci-fi like The Chronicles of Riddick is one good example. Though artificial, the character Riddick, performed by Vin Diesel, is so strong that he is the one that makes the film so soulful. If John Carter turns out to be good, commercially speaking, the sequel is awaiting, potentially 10 sequels following the novels. Let’s just expect that they could be better than this. (Score: C)
Assistant editor and senior writer at Montase, and movie lovers