Disney’s been pumping out big budget hits for awhile now, so it comes as no surprise that the company would fund the gloriously pulpy romp that is John Carter.
Directed by Andrew Stanton (who helmed several Pixar projects including Wall-E), this big screen adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs turn-of-the-century interplanetary opera casts Taylor Kitsch (Gambit in the Wolverine movie) as the titular loincloth-clad Virginian cavalry man turned swordsman, whose incredible feats on the planet Barsoom earn him the title “Warlord of Mars”.
I have to admit that as a big science fiction fan, I was rather skeptical when I sat down for the screening.†After all, the series was a seminal work, and while Carter’s many adventures were the subject of multiple comic book and small screen adaptations, few had come close to capturing the grandeur of Barsoom and it’s diverse cultures, or the tone of the original.
I didn’t have high hopes for Stanton either. He had a slew of animation experience, but Carter was his first live-action film, and directing real humans and directing a bunch of pixels were two different things altogether.
But surprise, surprise! Not only did the movie not didn’t disappoint, it was spectacular and then some.
I have to compliment Stanton’s clever juxtaposition of highs and lows. The story was a little formulaic at times, but overall, the pacing was just right. The action scenes were brilliantly lurid (with copious amounts of (blue) blood, gore and explosions), and thanks to his†grasp of dynamic camera angles and creative composition, proved generally entertaining.
The attention to fine detail was remarkable, and it showed through in the creation of pieces such as Zodanga’s crawling citadel, the sky ships, the alien creatures and elaborate costumes. †It was evident Stanton put in a 110% on this one.
In terms of acting, Kitsch’s performance was less kitschy than his last outing, while Lynn Collins (who also starred in the Wolverine movie) sizzled as not-quite-damsel-in-distress Dejah Thoris. The duo looked good together, and while their on-screen chemistry was a little lacking, there was potential there and that speaks volumes. Mark Strong’s performance as unapologetic Thern mastermind Matai Shang was also impressive, and it was a shame he didn’t get all that much screen time.
An awesome movie that’s sure to get your geek on. I’m hoping for a sequel already, and knowing Disney, it’s probably already in the works.