2.5 stars out of Four
After watching "John Carter," it will be easy to figure out where comic book writers came up with the idea for Superman's powers. John Carter may not have a red cape or special logo on his chest, but he will definitely be leaping over tall structures in a single bound straight into our hearts.
Almost 100 years after the original Barsoom novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs was released, "John Carter" has finally made it to the silver screen, in 3-D no less. Disney, heavy hitters of the live action "Pirates of the Caribbean" trilogy, have helped bring this sci-fi franchise to life, giving the directorial reigns to Andrew Stanton. Stanton is taking his first stab at live action cinema after having overwhelming success in different roles as director, writer and producer for Pixar Animation's "Toy Story," "Finding Nemo" and "Monsters Inc." films. Stanton is one of the premiere humorous writers in Hollywood, who serves this movie well in keeping the action light hearted and enjoyable to watch, while still maintaining the integrity of the source text from the novel.
Taylor Kitsch ("The Covenant," "X-Men Origins: Wolverine") takes on the titular character of John Carter, a Virginian Civil War captain, somehow transported to the planet of Barsoom, or Mars to Earthlings. Kitsch does an above average job of commanding the screen as a troubled and resistant byronic hero figure, albeit the wardrobe in which he was given left him looking like a ridiculous Tarzan doppelganger. Kitsch is believable enough in his convictions throughout the film, while also showing that he knows his way around a joke, giving justice to Stanton's comedic material.
The supporting cast of humans/Martians, indigenous green Tharks, and frogdogs rounded out the cast, giving life and emotion to the story, making it seem more interesting than it really was. Lynn Collins ("X-Men Origins: Wolverine"), playing Princess Dejah of Helium, holds her own as an elegant, yet very capable warrior and scientist, who will, to no surprise of anyone in the audience, develop warm and fuzzy feelings for Earth's teleported Virginian.
Again, even though this is Stanton's first foray into the live action field, the show stealers were still animated characters. Tars Tarkas, voiced by the vocally talented Willem Dafoe ("Boondock Saints") gives a memorable performance as the leader of the 10-feet tall, four armed Tharks. The audience will surely find a soft spot for John Carter's faithful sidekick, Woola, a dog-like creature with the face of a frog. Woola is a prime example of what an animated supporting character should be, unlike the "Star Wars" Jar Jar Binks character.
The world of Barsoom seems a bit perplexing throughout the film, though, as does the technology being used by the indigenous. The surface of the planet is entirely too barren to promote a thriving civilization, and the physics behind how the flying crafts got off the ground is somewhat mind-boggling and poorly explained. Considering the story is based off of outdated sci-fi theories and constructs, this movie should be more suited as a sci-fi/fantasy genre.
Theatergoers should be pleased with the overall look of the film, considering the copious amounts of special effects throughout, while also enjoying the performances of all the characters, who really do carry the film. Taylor Kitsch's portrayal of John Carter will definitely put him in the discussion for top up and coming action stars.
It is likely that the projected success of this movie will lead to the green light of more Barsoom novels to hit the big screen in the near future, bringing forth its vast collection of characters and other landscapes. Expect Disney to start construction of a "John Carter" theme park ride sometime in the near future, which will surely be a delightful experience.
Geoff Smith is a student at Georgia Gwinnett College and a Daily Post intern.