Andrew Stanton, if we all remember correctly, is the man behind Pixar’s Finding Nemo and WALL-E – arguably two of the most high-acclaimed animated movies ever made in the history of mankind. Especially the latter, where art and commerce married each other and rode away to the sunset, sending WALL-E into the pantheon of beautiful, timeless Hollywood creations of the 21st century. That said, whatever Stanton has been smoking after that period should be labelled noxious and harmful to anybody’s creative, professional health, coming up with this cinematic turd. John Carter is that corpse of a movie that emerges dead on arrival, a cataclysm caused by a blitzkrieg of expensive CGI effects extravaganza (with a production budget worth the entire topography of a third-world country), a waste-bin of shoddy costumes, clunky dialogue and plot trajectory as familiar as fuck. It’s devoid of any art – only a desperate output of corporate studio meetings in a desperate bid to desperately cash-in some post-Avatar desperation.
How could anyone out of thousands of both production and post-production crew not notice the unfolding quagmire of recycled shit smeared across their faces, as John Carter reaches for its eventual completion? Seriously. It’s not only confused, unfocused, irrational, blowing all the laws of Physics off the roof and mind-meltingly boring – but the film seems to be absolutely convinced (or is it deliberately intentional?) that it’s truly the first of its kind. Edgar Rice Burrough’s 100-year old space epic might have been groundbreaking if it was made 50 years ago, but releasing it in 2012 and then pretend than none of these Star Wars, Spartacus, Flash Gordon, Avatar and hundreds of sci-fi war epics didn’t exist is too ill-advised. Even Aladdin was a better film than this.
Two new additions to a new generation of Hollywood mouth-breathers.
What starts as a Western suddenly morphs into a sci-fi space opera, heaping up as much formulas and genre conventions resulting in a mountain of butt-numbing clichés. John Carter (a po-faced, ill-fated Taylor Kitsch, whose name will go down to film history’s biggest flukes) is introduced as a Civil War veteran on Earth, who then gets inexplicably transported to Mars (which they call it Barsoom later on, but you couldn’t care less) and starts jumping around like some anti-gravity Bugs Bunny (bone density, apparently) whilst the rest of the characters can’t even run properly let alone fly. With his newfound, if incomprehensible, powers, he decides to become Spartacus and wins the legion of 8-foot tall Martian creatures who just walked in right off the set of Star Wars.
And because this film needs some much-needed plot conflict – Taylor Kitsch wages war against Dominic West, Mark Strong and other host of badly costumed characters, who all look like they wish they were somewhere else. And because this film needs some much-needed romance – Lynn Collins strolls in as a barely-clad warrior princess, whose haemorrhaged performance only worsens the picture. She has all the automated monotony of Apple’s Siri, delivering lines like “That is Jarsoom. This is Barsoom. Will you fight for Barsoom?”. Next minute she opens her mouth, you couldn’t give a flying fuck what she says. Somehow, we’ve got to give it to her for pulling up a straight face and bleating dialogues like this without laughing. Eventually, there’s Kitsch – whose career by now has suffered a rough decline, billing two features that tanked in public consciousness, first Battleship and now this crap. If two terribly shitty films aren’t enough to ruin a career, I don’t know what will.
A depthless, charmless, soulless, sexless, brainless derivative turd of a movie, taking mainstream filmmaking to a whole new low. This is a lesson for Disney and those capitalist Hollywood drones – $250 million budget cannot buy great storytelling. Great films are made with passion and heart, not with spreadsheets and figures. John Carter looks and feels as if it were directed by an accountant, not a visionary director.