It’s now been two days since I’ve seen John Carter, and I’m still not sure what it is that I sat through on Saturday…
I had the same feeling when I saw Cowboys & Aliens last year. I definitely saw it, and I didn’t love it / didn’t hate it, but a few days later I almost had no opinion on it. I’m looking at a ticket stub, so I definitely saw John Carter at 2:40 pm on Saturday. But it’s almost as if the film was so uninspiring that my brain chose not to remember it… I have a more vivid memory of eating cheeseburgers on Saturday than I do watching this film.
That’s not to say it’s awful. It’s just not memorable. Let me try to think about this movie for a minute. I remember it started kinda slow and middling, then it continued relatively slow and middling, and the last 10 minutes were pretty slow and middling. McNulty from The Wire was there! And so was a lukewarm romance plot!
The main character, whose name I can’t remember, was a little less than stellar. Just some bro civil war soldier who doesn’t know where he is. He kind of haphazardly stumbles into a cave and gets teleported to an alternate Mars where human life can exist, and he just sort of wanders around interacting with the natives. Everyone loves his ability to utilize the gravity and jump wherever he wants. He’s a bit of a superhero in the Mars folk’s eyes, I suppose.
The special effects are really good and all, and the whole thing is pretty neat visually. There are just these patches throughout the movie where I completely stopped paying attention. Call me a bad movie watcher that day if you want, but John Carter was really struggling to hold my attention. There was a whole scene in a cave where JC and his lady are looking at light beams in the floor or something, it goes on for like 6-7 minutes, and if you put a gun to my head and told me to explain what that was all about, I’d be dead. I have no recollection of what happened in that cave. My mind completely blanked over it. This happened a couple of other times too.
Yet still, I was able to understand the basic functions of the story, despite encountering several holes of non-retention. Which leads me to believe that John Carter, in all its 2 hour and 12 minute glory, was possibly a bloated mass of unnecessary exposition… …?
I liked all the stuff when he was interacting with the “primitive” culture of four-armed green aliens. That stuff was fun. It was action packed, it wasn’t overly complex (not that I *dislike* things that are overly complex), and most importantly it held my attention. It was in the spirit of a good, dumb summer action film. Then it went into the human side of things, and it became bogged down with nonsense to the point where it reminded me of a galactic senate meeting on Naboo. That also reminded me of why it was released in March, not July.
There was some good splashes of humor in it, for sure, and you could tell the film had its heart in the right places. I didn’t fully hate it (or even hate it at all, really), but I just don’t care about this movie. I never plan on seeing it again or having a discussion about it after a week or so from now has passed. For some reason John Carter reminded me of the Stargate movie from 1994 (I don’t know, futuristic desert planets?), but I was 10x times more entertained by Stargate than I was this film. If that means anything to you…?
I would rank John Carter above, say, an Underworld/Resident Evil type movie, but below an R-rated action film like the newest Rambo or something. And while I consider it in a different league than Resident Evil, it’s basically the same sport. Overstylized nonsense, with desperately-trying-to-be-cool undertones. At least JC had the decency to be *half* good. Perhaps the greatest contribution John Carter will have on the film world is seeing the interesting cosplay outfits people will make from it at upcoming comic book conventions (metal bikinis and red body tattoos will be in this year!).
Again, I don’t loathe John Carter in any way. I didn’t like it enough to recommend it to anybody, but I’m also so vastly indifferent about most of it that I won’t *not* recommend it to anybody. I’d probably just recommend rewatching Stargate.
5.5 out of 10