Friday, March 9, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: John Carter in 3D

John Carter is a spectacular movie to watch.  The 3D is beautiful and the fight scenes are grand and thrilling....

On Tuesday, my son and I attended an advance screening of the new Disney action adventure movie John Carter.  I will be upfront in saying that John Carter is not the best Disney movie I have seen.  But if you like your movies with tons of action, where your senses are on total overload throughout the entire duration, then John Carter is for you.

John Carter is based on a series of old novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs which tells the story of Confederate war military caption John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) who by happenstance, goes on an adventure that it truly out of this world. 

In the story, Captain John Carter is a honorable man who has dedicated this military career to helping to protect western settlers.  But he ends up losing his compassion after tragic events happen in his life.  Now disillusioned, he vows to help no one.  But in his quest to find gold, he discovers a medallion that takes him from Earth to Mars (also called Barssom) where another war is going on between two cultures - the Zodangans and the Helimites.  The Zodangans plan to wipe out the Helimites with the help of a strange blue power given to them by Martai Shang (played by Mark Strong), the King of an advance race of people called the Therns.  The Therns can change apperance at anytime and blend into any culture to alter the course of events as they see fit.

Carter is initially captured by a group of four armed, green creatures called Tharks who are just waiting for the Zodangans and the Helmites to kill off each other off so that the Tharks can take over Mars.  To end the war, the Helimite princess Dejah Thoris (played by Lynn Collins) has been pledged in marriage to Sab Than (played by Dominic West), the evil king of the Zodangans.  But Dejah runs away to save herself from a loveless marriage and ends up meeting John Carter.  Carter finds that by helping Princess Dejah, he can heal himself from the past and maybe find a new life on Barssom (Mars).

The main problem you will find with John Carter is that there are so many characters, and storylines, and cultures, and languages, and plot twists and turns in the movie that it is all a little too much for the audience.  It's like a wild 3D video game where the audience is on complete overload for two full hours trying to figure out what is going on while enjoying all the 3D effects.  This movie may have a complex storyline because Disney is staying true to the original books. Since I have not read any of the stories, I am not sure this is the case.

But despite the complexity, John Carter is a spectacular movie to watch.  The 3D was beautiful and the fight scenes are grand and thrilling.  My son was engaged for the entire two hours - there is no way that anyone will be bored while watching this movie. Most of the movie is computer generated graphics that show a make believe Mars (Barssom) that is visually wonderful to watch containing complex flying machines, intricate cities in the sky, and epic battles. 

And the movie does not take itself too seriously. There are moments where John Carter does things (like learning to walk on Mars in zero gravity or going to the wrong city when he attempts to save the princess) that make the audience burst out laughing.  And there are so many fight scenes in the movie that at one point even Carter makes a joke out of fighting yet another epic battle.

For parents, even though John Carter is a Disney movie, it is rated PG-13 for a good reason. There is plenty of cursing in the first 30 minutes of the movie. And the movie is full of violence from beginning to end.  If your children are use to viewing video game violence, then they should be fine with seeing John Carter.  But just a warning that there was one scene involving a branding iron that was particularly hard to watch.

My son totally enjoyed this movie, even though the end was so complex, he (and a lot of other people in the audience) were scratching their heads trying to understand it all.  The way the movie ends, a sequel to John Carter will probably be in theaters in the near future.

John Carter is rated PG-13 and opens in theaters TODAY, Friday, March 9th.  If you are going to see it, please pay the extra money to see it in 3D.  It is totally worth it.

Click here if the John Carter movie clip is not shown

Disclosure: I received media passes from Disney to see this movie.  All opinions are my own.


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