This is not a review of John Carter. A million people have already done that and deduced it to be the worst film of all time. But it does have spoilers.
You have been warned.
In reality, it isn’t really that bad. Yes, it is bad, but not end of the world terrible. It is nothing more than a b-movie. A $250 million b-movie, but a b-movie nonetheless. It doesn’t grate, does irritate, it doesn’t actually do much of anything. Sure, a lot of stuff happens, but you never think of it more than stuff happening. “Oh we have to go here”, “oh now we’ve got to go there for blah blah blah…” Absolutely could not care less.
After the first three minutes I had not a clue what was going on, so straight away they were onto a loser. We’re on a flaying city on Mars, then we jump to 19th century America with a man looking for a cave of gold, something which comes up an awful lot. All John Carter does is whine about his poxy cave of gold.
He cares for nothing, but randomly saves Breaking Bad’s Walter White, presumably in the hope of getting a good deal on some crystal meth later. But he dies so that plan goes out of the window. It was at this point I was well and truly lost. Yes, the flying spaceships on Mars things was incredibly blergh, but you can look past that as long as you believe in the characters. Which I didn’t.
Not for a second.
They were all dull and seemed to be driven by the necessity of the plot, rather than by the inner machinations of their character. About halfway through that I was not invested in the characters and were they all to die I won’t give it a second thought. Not that I wanted them to die, no that would suggest a level of interest which simply did not exist. It was just a complete and utter sense of indifference to all of them. Except the super fast Mars dog. He was awesome. Until they gave him stuff to do, which made him into a plot device. But the rest of the time he was awesome.
It is hard to say why this was so. The script wasn’t terrible, though it certainly lacked anything other than the merest glimpses of flair. The plot was generic, the language was bland and to be honest I’m not sure it made any sense, but again, really didn’t care. Every subplot was there for something else. It was a collection of stuff to justify the next thing happening. It was completely inorganic. It was like it was made by a committee of box tickers.
The acting was not good. They tried to make it into a fun-filled, empty-headed fantasy romp but the material wasn’t strong enough, there wasn’t much chemistry and the green screen, oh the green screen! Pretty much the entire film was green screen. And it jarred, oh boy did it jar. There was no level of integration between the background and the people. John Carter doing his jumping stuff lacked any heft, a problem that was sorted out years ago. Some scenes were like watching them practice their lines in the coffee room, no emotion or involvement. But then that isn’t easy with nothing to feed off of.
The whole thing was so stupid, so convoluted, so pointless to be unreal. It was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek family romp, but it lacked any sort of charm or charisma for anyone to care about it in the slightest. With this big world creation it had flashes of Waterworld with its generic bad guys and utter tedium and of course The Wizard of Oz. Though at least Waterworld had Dennis Hopper hamming it up to a ridiculous degree.
If you want to see why films fail, watch this. You can see what they were trying to do and how they failed. If you watch films for any other reason, give it a miss.