John Carter

[2.0 stars] John Carter (2012) on IMDb [Amazon Link]

I really, really wanted to like this movie. Netflix thought I would. But instead, I have to agree with the folks that made John Carter a huge box-office disappointment: it's not fun or interesting to watch.

What makes it even more painful is the director and co-writer is Andrew Stanton, who did so much wonderful stuff at Pixar (Director of Wall·E, Finding Nemo, and A Bug's Life; writer on Toy Story [123], Wall·E, Finding Nemo, A Bug's Life, and Monsters, Inc..) They clearly spent a pile of money on the spectacular special effects. How could things have gone so wrong?

You know what William Goldman said about Hollywod: Nobody knows anything. Meaning: if someone had the knack of churning out cinematic hits, deftly avoiding the duds, we'd know. But instead… nobody knows anything.

Anyway: John Carter is an ex-Confederate soldier, trying to make a living looking for gold in the Arizona territory. A series of mishaps cause him to take refuge in a cave; a strange being appears, and in the resulting kerfuffle, Carter is teleported off to Barsoom, what we humans call Mars.

Once there, the low gravity and Carter's Terran physiology make him into sort of a superhero. Literally able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Which is fortunate, because Barsoom is wracked with civil war between the various tribes, both human-like and not. As it turns out, hostilities are egged on by the Therns, the race to which the strange being in the paragraph above belonged.

That doesn't sound so bad! And there's a lot of good stuff: a so-ugly-he's-cute Martian doggie, some gags, and scenes and ideas that many past SF movies stole erm, borrowed from the original Edgar Rice Burroughs yarns. (Looking mostly at you, Star Wars.)

But, bottom line, I wasn't hooked. Dozed off briefly during the 53d epic battle. Andrew Stanton might be a movie genius, but he can't choreograph a good fight scene.