John Carter is out of this world
TODD MILLER | Collegio Writer
Rating: 4/5 stars
The adventure and sci-fi genres come together well in “John Carter.” Many action movies get by with good fighting sequences and some explosions while containing little in the way of a plot. However, “John Carter” man- ages the former and exceeds the latter, making the film intricate enough that it lives up to the expectations of its genre.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is an ex-Confederate cavalryman searching for a cave of gold in Arizona while trying to avoid becoming involved in a war between the Native Americans and the U.S. military. Carter finds the cave of gold, but he is attacked by a mysterious figure that transports him to an unknown place that he later learns is Mars.
Carter discovers a conflict between the races on Mars, and he learns the conflict is undermining the planet’s problem of a dying atmosphere slowly turning their plan- et into a desert. Although Carter tries to avoid becoming involved, he is eventually drawn into the conflict through his interest in Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), princess of Helium, the capital of Mars.
One thing I enjoyed was the intricate plot. Even though the action sequences are intense, the writers did not sacrifice the plot to make them so. Instead of a plot that exists solely as an excuse for fighting to take place, “John Carter” builds interesting characters and cultures at odds with each other and themselves.
However, they strike a balance between the fighting and the plot. The writing does not interfere with the in-
tensity of the action sequences, allowing the movie to remain entertaining.
The unfortunate downside is the movie feels longer than it should be, and the writers often have too many things happening at once. For example, early in the film, the audience is forced to keep track of the cause of war as seen by both races, watching Carter become initiated into a race of exotic Mar- tians and trying to understand what brought Carter to Mars in the first place. All of this is layered over the narrative of Carter’s nephew reading a journal of Carter’s adventure. So, while “John Carter” is well-written, the film tries to do too much at once and starts to drag quite a bit.
The film does a good job of adding humor where necessary, without ruining the drama or the building tension the plot creates. The scene depicting Carter fighting the lighter gravity of Mars after arriving was the funniest scene I’ve seen in a movie this year.
The believability of Carter himself is another positive aspect of the film. Although everyone is coming to get him to fight for this or that cause, he is concerned only with “getting back to his cave of gold.” The princess begs him to come fight for their side, yet he ignores her for a while and instead thinks of the riches waiting for him on Earth. It doesn’t come as a shock to his character when Carter eventually decides to fight for Helium. The audience is aware he has a heart of gold despite his thoughts of riches. Carter’s character is noth- ing new, but it still caused me to care for what he did. I was genuinely concerned about whether he would succeed. His flashbacks helped with this development, though I’ll say no more on what they are.
Carter’s only failing was that he’s supposed to be a southern American from the 1880s. This is believable before he’s transported to Mars. However, once he’s on the new planet Carter becomes indistinguishable from the current century, and he could have been replaced with a man from modern times. Despite its flaws, “John Carter” is a great film that
contains both an engaging plot and fun action sequences. Sure the story can get a little cluttered, but this movie is sure to deliver.
Also, the fact that Mars’ two moons were spherical bugged me every time I saw them, but this minutia is unlikely to bother many others