FILM FANS: Kitsch as 'John Carter' is a bust

EDITOR'S NOTE: Film Fans features local residents reviewing the movie of the week: "John Carter." Want to be a film fan? Email features@gwinnettdailypost.com.

3 out of 4 Stars

Disney's "John Carter" is not "Lawrence of Arabia." Its star, Taylor Kitsch, from TV's "Friday Night Lights," will never be confused for Peter O'Toole.

Come awards season, "John Carter" will probably be left in the cold. But if one is inclined to suspend belief and give themselves over to a few hours of pure escapism, one will find the well-intentioned space western one of the most enjoyable movie experiences they have had in years.

As a big fan of "WALL-E," I was excited to see what director Andrew Stanton could piece together out of a 100-year-old space opera. What he's created is a sprawling mass of technical wizardry and old-school (think early '80s) adventure.

The story may be a bit of a mess at times, but rare is the fantasy epic that handles necessary exposition well.

In the first installment of a fantasy series, you should expect to have to slog through lessons in jargon and native custom in order to immerse yourself in the setting. "John Carter" is no slouch in that respect. So if you're not a fan of sci-fi, it may be impossible to stomach "John Carter" in its most operatic moments. As for me, I had a boyish grin plastered across my face nearly the entire two hours and 20 minutes.

-- Jeremy D. Beauchamp, Lawrenceville

2 1/2 out of 4 Stars

Although an interesting sci-fi movie, "John Carter" has many flaws. The special effects were pretty good and the concept was intriguing as well. Unfortunately, "John Carter" suffers from bad acting, at times, a confusing story line, and moments where you just wish you could hit fast forward.

Written by the same author who created "Tarzan," the original story about John Carter was written in a time period before we had much knowledge of the planet Mars. You will have to get past the fact that we know we can't breathe and we would freeze to death on Mars. Overlook the bad acting and go get a refill during the slow parts, then you might find yourself enjoying "John Carter."

-- Kenny Grams, Lawrenceville

2 out of 4 Stars

There is a reason you've never heard of "John Carter of Mars" over "The Adventures of Tarzan." This bloated half-baked imbecility should have remained in total obscurity. The only way you will survive without losing too many brain cells is if you go to this movie with the mind of a child.

As a 7-year-old, you will enjoy the 3-D effects of this weak story of multi-planetary love in the midst of a civil war. This remake of the golden age of sci-fi was Flash Gordon -- like story full of 2-D characters and unfathomable, out-of place scenes -- such as flying Roman ships with steam-punk controls, a gladiator scene with big abominable white monkey monsters in a Coliseum, a salamander-looking dog-like animal living with infanticide-loving, big six-armed green Martians -- probably will keep the kid in you happy for the duration of the movie.

John Carter was played by Taylor Kitsch and watch out for the movie director -- Andrew Stanton -- to avoid him in the future. If it wasn't for the color-enhanced eyes of the princess played by Lynn Collins and her wedding dress, I would have given this movie less than two stars.

For those of you wanting to see a good film, there is a local offer to get a free ticket to see this movie when you buy "Remember the Titans."

-- Alfred Richner, Duluth