John Carter (2012) received a shocking 5.8/10 from critics, and a 3.5/5 from audiences. Critics on Rottentomatoes.com cited uneven pacing and incomprehensible plotting and characters as the reasons behind this low score.Whatever faults this film might suffer from however, incomprehensible characterization is not one of them.Whatever faults this film might suffer from however, incomprehensible characterization is not one of them. The main story is that John Carter, a civil war vet, refuses to re-enlist in the army in 1868. During his escape from jail, he finds a cave. In the cave, he encounters someone holding an unfamiliar amulet.
When Carter touches the amulet, he is transported to a whole new world. In this world, the rules of gravity apply differently–he can jump vast distances–and he becomes incredibly strong.The downfall of the film was the budget, not the content.The downfall of the film was the budget, not the content. A “box-office bomb”, the film would have needed to generate more than $600 million in ticket sales to break even. This is a feat reached only by 63 films ever, according to Nationalpost.com.
The film begins with Carter’s death, focusing in on his nephew. Carter is locked in a tomb which can only be opened from the inside out, as per his will, and Carter’s nephew is given his journal to read through.
Carter’s adventures begin when his nephew reads the journal, and the story reveals Carter’s experiences with life on Mars, and an incredible, riveting conflict between rival kingdoms.John Carter explores poignant, relevant issues in a palatable sci-fi format. John Carter explores poignant, relevant issues in a palatable sci-fi format. The film looks at the issues with slavery and the importance of becoming involved in your community, racism and culture-based hatred, and environmentalism while wrapping the broad problems around a timeless love story.
The film is complicated, and pulls in many different global issues and fascinating characters. However, this is not at the expense of characterization. Even the villains are sympathetic and given enough back story to make them interesting.
The budget for John Carter resulted in a beautiful film filled with special effects, but the dramatic plot and surprising twists would have resulted in an equally engaging lower-budget movie. The high points are not in the creatively designed aliens, but instead in the interactions between the alien races, reflecting the moral and political dilemmas so recently (for John Carter) explored in the Civil War.
John Carter is an under-rated film. If you didn’t go see it when it was in theaters because of the poor reviews, give it a second change through Netflix. The film is not an adapted version of Star Wars–expect to appreciate John Carter for what it is, and you won’t be disappointed.