For those who don't know, John Carter of Mars is the granddaddy of pretty much every science fiction story ever told. Star Wars? Not without John Carter. Avatar? Wouldn't have happened. The original stories (Written by Edgar Rice Burroughs) didn't all follow the character of John Carter, though he did appear in many of the books. The film here mainly consists of the first three books in the series, A Princess of Mars, The Gods of Mars and The Warlord of Mars, while also doing it's own thing.
The plot follows Civil War vet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who while looking for gold to get rich off of, becomes in possession of a amulet that transports him to Mars, or Barsoom as the natives call it. There he teams up with Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and Martian Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe).
Kitsch does a very good job in the role of Carter, leading the film's action scenes well and holding his own in the more emotional parts. In fact, he probably is the best part of the movie. Though there are times where he can loose control a bit. Collins is also good as a smart, butt-kicking princess, a nice change of pace from the usual damsels-in-distress. Villain Mark Strong however, never is the threat he should be and comes across very bored with the movie he's in.
The film's sloppy story doesn't add to the excitement. The film really hopes you have read the books as it skirts plots many story developments and plot points to keep the runtime relatively low. So much goes on unexplained you can't help but feel like there's a three hours long director's cut sitting around somewhere. And the visual effects, for a movie that cost 250 MILLION dollars to make (and won't make back) aren't quite up to snuff. Sure, the martian cities and cool and sometimes breathtaking, though most are unoriginal. But whenever we are in the deserts of Mars, the "magic" just isn't there and it feels like it just a desert in New Mexico with some cool rock formations.
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