Disney has gambled an epic $250 million on John Carter
, the live-action blockbuster adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' Barsoom novels and spin-off Marvel comics. Most of it seems to be spent on CGI, because there's a dire lack of anything redeemable in this big, boring, and very expensive hot mess.
It's a huge shame, considering that the original tales have influenced sci-fi film classics from Star Wars
and beyond. This film arrives too late to the party, coming across as the cinematic bastard child of Thor
, Star Wars
and (gasp), even Cowboys and Aliens
Carter (actor-model Taylor Kitsch) is an American Civil War veteran who miraculously winds up on Mars, known as Barsoom to its 15-metre-tall alien locals called 'Tharks' (try say that without smirking) and their king 'Jeddak' (not
Our loin-clothed hero develops a talent for jumping really, really high in the air, making him the perfect candidate to protect princess-in-peril Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) from marrying the evil intergalactic invader Sab Than (The Wire
's Dominic West, wasted as the ho-hum villain).
If the plot sounds ridiculous, it's because it is. Perhaps it makes more sense in print, but as a film it's dead on arrival thanks to non-existent character development, cheesier-than-cheddar dialogue, and banal action sequences.
It's no wonder Carter
has been in development hell since its first proposed big-screen project in 1931. More than 80 years later, it's passed between names like Walt Disney, Tom Cruise, Robert Rodriguez and Iron Man
's Jon Favreau.
and Finding Nemo
director Andrew Stanton must shoulder the blame for this over-bloated disaster. It's impossible to care about the protagonists, played by the helplessly wooden Kitsch and Collins. Not even a hint of sexual tension could sustain interest in this mind-numbingly long 132-minute slog.
The voice cast includes Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton, but you wouldn't know it. Maybe the budget could've been spent on more charismatic leads?
There are some
positives. The epic desert scenery does look grand in 3D, and a few of the CGI creatures are cute in an ugly kind of way.
Plenty of people may disagree with this verdict. It will be interesting to see if audiences embrace John Carter
Watch the trailer here