I hope you’re praying for a better movie.

Theatrical Release Date: 03/09/2012
Director: Andrew Stanton
Cast: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton (voice), Willem Dafoe (voice), Thomas Haden Church (voice), Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds, Daryl Sabara, Bryan Cranston
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.
Runtime: 2 hours, 12 minutes


What part of Caesar’s Palace is this?

Unlike “John Carter”, I’m not going to take up a lot of your time. Really, you can breakdown the movie very simply and gauge a person’s ability to enjoy it based on a few short questions: Are you under the age of 15? Do you like your 2012 CGI to look like 2003 CGI? Is passable 3D more important than a fully developed script? And most importantly, did you like the Star Wars prequels?

If you answered ‘yes’ to those questions … well … sigh (not that you could do anything about your age, your parents just couldn’t wait any longer). If your responses were unmitigated cries of ‘NO!’ and/or a series of groans, then you probably don’t need to see what’s being marketed as the “first blockbuster of the year”, though it would be more appropriately titled “the first huge waste of investment capital of the year”.

Author Edgar Rice Burroughs has been cited by many of today’s sci-fi filmmakers as an inspiration and it’s readily apparent that this character and his adventures probably made great books. However, trying to translate it to film created a series of missteps surrounding character back-story and plot detail. As events unfold, it’s painfully obvious that there are elements probably explained in the source material that make the actions whizzing by on-screen seem less trivial and random.

The actors all do a generally decent job with what they have to work with but the overall result is just a rather bland 132 minutes. Director Andrew Stanton was at the helm for some of Pixar’s best efforts, “WALL·E” and “Finding Nemo”. Those movies knew that story needed to come first. “John Carter” feels more like a rushed attempt to crank out a beloved story in order to make the release date, and could have greatly benefitted from a re-write or even splitting it into a series of films; as the story being told is rich but painfully compressed even within a long runtime.

More detail and description of the general failure of the movie could be given but I promised not to drag on. “John Carter” will do fine with adolescent boys, and whoever the hell liked George Lucas dragging his “Star Wars” legacy through the ringer. However, for the rest of us this is time better spent cleaning roof gutters, building a toothpick bridge, or taking a nice nap. A 2 out of 5, nothing in the film was all that offensive but very, very little did more than pass the time … way, way too much time.

2 out of 53D Maybe