When “John Carter” came out last year, it was such a box-office bomb that it quickly became a punch line.
I understand why dedicated science-fiction fans may have had their problems with it, but on the whole, this movie isn’t anywhere near as bad as the fanboys are making it out to be. If you approach it looking for a piece of escapist fantasy, it’s a perfectly serviceable movie.
Based on the novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs (he of “Tarzan” fame), “John Carter” is the story of a Civil War veteran who is transported to Mars, where his strength and agility make the natives believe he is a mythological hero.
That’s the story of the Burroughs serialized stories, at least. One of the major things people faulted “John Carter” for was not sticking to the source material. However, I would argue that the John Carter stories, which were first published in 1911, are so dated by now that any creative re-interpretation would need to freshen them up a bit, just to stay in keeping with modern tastes and expectations.
All that being said, the clunky, convoluted storyline doesn’t do “John Carter” any favors. Nor does the performance of Taylor Kitsch, the handsome “Friday Night Lights” star whose acting isn’t as good as his looks.
On the plus side, though, it’s fun to see a movie that says “What the heck?” the way “John Carter” does. Why not send a Civil War veteran to Mars? Why not have Mars populated with strange, CGI animals? “Cowboys and Aliens” aside, science fiction has taken itself very, very seriously ever since “The Matrix,” and it’s good to see a movie that goes ahead and has a little fun.
Characters and cast of John Carter include:
John Carter – Taylor Kitsch (The Normal Heart, Lone Survivor, Savages, Friday Night Lights)
Dejah Thoris – Lynn Collins (Unconditional, True Blood, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, The Number 23, The Lake House)
Sola – Samantha Morton (Control, In America, Minority Report, The Harvest, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, Longford)
Willem Dafoe (Spider-Man, Finding Nemo, The English Patient, The Grand Budapest Hotel, A Most Wanted Man, Odd Thomas, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, The Hunter, Ripley Under Ground, The Aviator, American Psycho, The Last Temptation of Christ)
Tal Hajus – Thomas Haden Church (Sideways, Spider-Man 3, Wings, Easy A, Spanglish, 3000 Miles to Graceland, Idiocracy)
Matai Shang – Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Sherlock Holmes, Body of Lies, RocknRolla, Low Winter Sun, Zero Dark Thirty, Blood, Welcome to the Punch, Heartlands, Syriana, Anna, The Way Back)
Tardos Mors – Ciaran Hinds (Frozen, Munich, Rome, Road to Perdition, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Game of Thrones, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby, Closed Circuit, The Debt, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Above Suspicion, There Will Be Blood, The Tiger’s Tale, The Statement, The Sum of All Fears, Persuasion)
Sab Than – Dominic West (Pride, Burton and Taylor, The Affair, Centurion, The Wire, Hannibal Rising, 28 Days)
Kantos Kan – James Purefoy (Rome, Vanity Fair, Resident Evil, A Knight’s Tale, Mansfield Park)
Powell – Bryan Cranston (Argo, Malcolm in the Middle, Breaking Bad, Drive, Godzilla, Contagion, The Lincoln Lawyer)
Sarkoja – Polly Walker (Patriot Games, Sliver, Clash of the Titans, Mr. Selfridge, Rome, Control, State of Play, Emma)
Dalton – Nicholas Woodeson (Skyfall, The Pelican Brief, The Honourable Woman, Red Riding Trilogy, Rome)