A viewer who saw John Carter yesterday at a distributor screening in Europe has been online taking questions on movie discussion board at http://jcofmars.com for the last several hours. As we did with the first test screening review, JCF has taken the comments and consolidated them into a review. This review is very favorable although the perspective of the reviewer is quite different from that of the previous test screening reviewer. As is often the case in this type of situation, the first question is — is the review real? Did the person really see the movie? We have done our due diligence on this and can assure that the reviewer indeed did see the movie and the review clearly demonstrates that fact.
There are a few MILD SPOILERS sprinkled throughout.
DISNEY’S JOHN CARTER — REVIEW 2/12/2012
I’ve seen it today in an internal distrib screening. 4/5 stars. Historical. Emotional….The tone is sober and solemn. Less action than I thought…..I mostly liked it. It’s not quite a masterpiece, but it’s very faithful to ERB. I’m a huge fan, but doesn’t prevent me from being frank and sincere. I told the people present at the screening that I’ve been waiting for this for almost 40 years. Still emotional about the viewing experience……The movie is dedicated to Steve Jobs.
Definitely more TROY than LOTR. I wish the battles would’ve been longer. A.S. doesn’t stage / choreograph the battles like Peter Jackson or Jim Cameron does. He’s better with character work. But a movie like JC must contain Action. Whatever there is, is pretty good. Dejah Thoris is an Action Heroine, which is great. Early scenes with Dejah Thoris and Tardos Mors in Helium remind of David Lynch’s Dune. In the interior scenes, there’s some interesting lighting, although it’s not as dark and oblique as in Lynch’s DUNE. The early Earth scenes (1880’s) have a look which reminded me of RAIDERS and SILVERADO. The whole movie has a strong desert look to it. I agree that a tint of red on Barsoom wouldn’t have hurt.
RESPECT FOR THE SOURCE MATERIAL
Fans of ERB / John Carter will be happy to discover, that Andrew Stanton has really seen a lot of trouble to involve the Barsoomian religion, Goddess Issus, Barsoomian astronomy and the superstition of the Tharks in the movie. Stanton really shows that he respects the source material quite a bit, with many memorable pieces of dialogue lifted straight from A PRINCESS OF MARS . Not to mention the whole mythology of John Carter himself — his huge mansion, mausoleum etc. This guy is basically an entertaining rehash of Indiana Jones, as you will discover early on in the movie. Those, who are looking forward to “the lore” aspect of JOHN CARTER aren’t going to be disappointed!
ACTION SCENES ARE SHORTER THAN I WOULD LIKE
However — all of this happens on expense of Action, unfortunately. And this is the movie’s BIGGEST FLAW, in my honest opinion. I had hoped to see MORE Big, Epic Battles along the lines of LOTR and AVATAR. You’re NOT going to see battles on that scale in JC. The battles are way too short in duration, in my opinion. The violence does occasionally push the envelope of PG-13, but never in a serious way, since Andrew Stanton always cuts quickly away from gruesome details. After all, this IS a Walt Disney movie, in the vein of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN franchise.
I love all the ships and the guns (radium rifles and cannons), plus the one man fliers. They will remind you A LOT of the Speeder Bikes (STAR WARS) in overall feel and controls, although they can obviously FLY HIGHER than the Speeder Bikes, and they’re therefore much more agile.
I think all the actors are exceptionally well chosen for their parts. Despite possibly objecting to the introduction of Therns this early on, most fans are going to be impressed by the charisma / gravitas of Mark Strong as Holy Hokkador Matai Shang. He’s perfect as the main villain / Machiavellian manipulator.
Really liked James Purefoy as Kantos Kan (but he has way too little to do!), and Dominic West as Sab Than (he’s a dashing, menacing villain, but we know absolutely nothing of his backstory or his infatuation with Dejah Thoris — except that the Zodangans are a predatory race, constantly on the move…).
The whole concept of Zodanga — not spoiling it here! — is very cool. Would love to purchase a good scale model of Zodanga, by Sideshow Collectibles.
JOHN CARTER – DEJAH THORIS CHEMISTRY IS GOOD
Prior to seeing the film, the one fact I found a little cringe-worthy in the first trailers were the scenes / dialogue between JC/Taylor Kitch and DT/Lynn Collins. I’m very happy to say the two leads DO have great chemistry. When they get close to each other, you can actually feel the sizzle… of mutual attraction. I felt that Lynn Collins looks absolutely stunning and gorgeous as Dejah Thoris. Her British RP accent is pretty much on the ball. I liked the fact that Dejah Thoris is depicted as a fully-fledged Action Heroine, in addition to being Helium’s Regent of Science and Letters. Love the curvy, ornate Heliumite swords. She has good fighting choreography, which I’d have loved to see more of! However, we see VERY LITTLE of Zodangan females in action (except onboard Sab Than’s battleship very early on).
DEPICTION OF THARKIAN CULTURE
I was impressed by the depiction of the Tharkian culture. Having seen the first encounter between Tars Tarkas and John Carter last year in London in a special JC presentation, I was slightly worried that the Tharks would be too cute. Fortunately, they aren’t, I’m very happy to report. The Thark culture is being portrayed as brutal and unforgiving (especially to weakness, as we know from the books). Reminds of the Klingons in STAR TREK. In this regard, Tal Hajus, Sarkoja and Sola (she’s one of my faves; done just right!) have some great scenes in this regard. In contrast, the Warhoons are never given any depth whatsoever, alas — they’re depicted as the ugly monsters they are, mere puppets in Matai Shang’s grand scheme.
Tars Tarkas is very impressive. Willem Dafoe was a great choice for the role. Tars isn’t overly sympathetic at first; he’s challenged by Tal Hajus (Thomas Haden Church) at every turn, so Tars has to keep a close eye on Sola (Samantha Morton), whom especially Sarkoja (Polly Walker) wishes to humiliate. The design of the Tharks has grown on me. At first, I was opposed to their overly LITHE design. But hey, when you’re living 24/7 in the desert, a lithe physionomy of the Tharks makes PERFECT SENSE. Just think about the Masai tribes in Africa. I also applaud the fact that the Tharkian language has been integrated into the movie. There isn’t too much of it (created by the same linguistics professor who created the Na’vi lingo in AVATAR), but whatever there is, works very well.
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