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John Carter: Pixar Brilliance in Human Form

John Carter: Pixar Brilliance in Human Form
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John Carter is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Barsoom series, the first volume of which, A Princess of Mars, was originally published a century ago. The Barsoom books inspired most of the stuff you consider to be the sci-fi canon—Star Wars, early Star Trek, Dune, even He-Man. So how does an adaptation of a 100-year-old book—one that has been relentlessly strip-mined by everyone from George Lucas to David Lynch—manage to be so goddamned entertaining?

The answer, of course, involves Pixar. WALL•E director Andrew Stanton surrounded himself with a crew of skilled visual storytellers (and a few nonvisual storytellers, too, like nerd-friendly Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist Michael Chabon) to approach the characters with respect. The basic framework—a former Confederate soldier accidentally is transported to Mars, where he lands in the middle of a war between Red, White, and Green Martians that threatens to destroy the planet—is directly from the book. But rather than clinging desperately to some of the text’s pulpy quirks, Stanton streamlined the story, with Pixar’s near-perfect discipline, for a visual medium.

The pleasures are many. Mars, with its ships that travel on light and its four-armed warrior races, is endlessly beautiful to look at. (Although with the wide-screen shots of armies at war and desolate landscapes, the 3-D is more overwhelming than stately.) And Taylor Kitsch’s lovable performance as Carter, with his John Wayne cadence and his outright joy at learning that due to Mars’s lighter gravity he can leap great distances and punch with the force of a dozen men, like a reverse Superman, is the glue that holds everything together. John Carter gets silly at times (and there are a few stretches of dialogue laden with goofy names like “Tars Tarkas” and “Princess Dejah Thoris of Helium” that will elicit thunderous eye-rolls from non-nerds) but it’s ultimately a love letter to childlike wonder at the impossible made real. recommended

 

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1
Do not see the 3D version....seriously!!!!

Fun movie, and Lynn Collins was absolutely stunning. But this movie was originally shot in 2D, and framed and composed for 2D, and intended to be displayed in 2D. Only later was a conversion to 3D created. It sucks.

I shoot movies and commercials for a living, and much of the work of shooting in 2D is about creating a sense of dimensionality. Backgrounds are placed far away and out-of-focus foreground elements are added. But this is terribly distracting in 3D! It ruins the 3D effect! Watch Hugo: when two people are talking on screen, in the tight shots you don't typically see the shoulder of the person over whose shoulder you are looking; instead you just see a clean single. Why? Because the blurry foreground shit fucks up the 3D effect!

In 2D it is visually exciting to cut cut cut! from one shot to another, but in 3D you need a few seconds for your eyes to adjust to/be able to see the 3D in each new shot. That type of editing just doesn't work in 3D! It ruins the 3D effect! You fuckers!

The 2D version costs half as much and is twice as enjoyable. Seriously.
Posted by rubus on March 11, 2012 at 7:00 PM · Report this
2
"like a reverse Superman"

No, like Superman. A reverse Superman would be one of the martians being transported to Earth and barely able to move due to the increased gravity.
Posted by TheRob on March 11, 2012 at 8:04 PM · Report this
3
"Thunderous eye-rolls." Is that some sort of in-joke?
Posted by pannenkoeken82 on March 12, 2012 at 8:23 AM · Report this
Tovirus 4
Best. Movie. Ev... Recently! Saw it twice this weekend. Definitely had that ancient feeling.
Posted by Tovirus on March 12, 2012 at 10:29 AM · Report this
5
Awful film. The two lead actors were laughably bad. At first, I thought it was intentional, but not, just bad actors. Or maybe it was the script. Or the production? Or all the other actors? No, just an awful movie.
Posted by Sterno on March 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM · Report this
6
This is one of the more crack-headed reviews I've ever seen.

Carter's jumping ability - starting at long bounds and quickly escalating to cartoonish proportions took basically all seriousness out of the movie for me. It was disappointing to see Bryan Cranston and Dominic West wasted in this movie.

Kitsch was great as the brooding, post-jail Riggins. He broods much worse over his dead wife and child (which could be his sister, or his parents, whatever, that exposition was left on the cutting room floor) in Carter. The love story between him and the girl is preposterous (she falls in love literally the second they meet)

Agreed with @1 rubus above: 3D movies focus waaaay to much on ultra-narrow focus shots which maximize the 3D effect.
Posted by fetish on March 13, 2012 at 8:18 AM · Report this
biju 7
I'm fucking sick of 3D everything.
Posted by biju on March 16, 2012 at 7:00 PM · Report this
8
I completely agree with Mr. Constant. I really enjoyed this film. Saw it with my girlfriend this afternoon, and we agreed there was something for everyone in it. Thank goodness Michael Chabon and Andrew Stanton love pulp for exactly what it is and can be on the big screen. I'm a sucker for 3-D and was very happy to have my depth perception whipsawed like a tall tree in a windstorm. I didn't go expecting Fellini or Bergman, and wasn't disappointed in the slightest. Three stars and a full bucket of popcorn.
Posted by Frankie T. on March 17, 2012 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Laurence Ballard 9
Pure, unmitigated, swill.

(And, Disney expects to lose $200 million on this piece of excrement, making it one of the biggest flops in cinema history. Think Cutthroat Island, or The Adventures of Pluto Nash. Or Ishtar. That laughably bad. It's not just those elitist critics piling on, either. The people have spoken with their wallets: moviegoers are avoiding it like the plague. The Mouse Empire will likely see an 80 to 120 million dollar loss during the current quarter, alone. Disney shares were down nearly 2% this AM over the news.)
Posted by Laurence Ballard http://laurenceballard.com on March 20, 2012 at 11:50 AM · Report this
10
It's quite enjoyable. Not getting the hate. However, saw 3D and I see the criticisms; 2D would probably have been more of a visually complete experience.
Posted by P. Canooti on March 21, 2012 at 10:25 AM · Report this
11
Saw it in 2d - and I thought it was amazing.

Mind blown. So was my husbands. The acting is fine, the story is great, the visuals are fantastic and I love the cgi.

But then again - we are roleplaying nerds who love pixar, fantasy and sci fi movies - how could we NOT love JC?
Posted by The monogamish on March 22, 2012 at 10:24 AM · Report this
12
Fantastic film! I saw it 7 times in the theater. I did prefer the 2D version, myself. I thoroughly enjoyed the story (not dumbed down for the audience like most films are), the cast was brilliant, the effects flawless, and I especially adored Woola, John Carter's faithful Martian dog! I was SO disappointed that Disney didn't offer a plush Woola toy! My heart was set on one, so I made one for myself! I do hope SO much that the film continues to do well on disk so we get to see the trilogy that Stanton has planned! I think it will. I also think it will go down not as a turkey, but as a classic as more people see it and realize how great it is!
Posted by WoolaGirl on September 12, 2012 at 7:22 AM · Report this
13
Fantastic movie. One of the few I enjoy seeing over and over. First rate production, as you'd expect with a Disney film. I agree about 3-D. In general, I think it adds little to ANY movie. However, we're not talking about any movie. We're talking about John Carter, a great movie, well worth seeing in any format !
Posted by JCfan on September 12, 2012 at 10:43 AM · Report this
14
I saw the movie in March and being a Burroughs fan since the sixties and my youth, I was not sure what to expect. After seeing it in 3D in basically an empty theater, I was enthralled with the whole movie. I went again the next night and took my wife the third night. I love this movie. I disagree about the leads, particularly, Lynn Collins as Princess Dejah Thoris. She was excellent. Her presence was believeable because of her real life background growing up as a martial artist. She is also a Shakespearian actress, excellent in "The Merchant of Venice". I felt she gave a very nuanced performance going from trying to seduce or manipulate John Carter to believing in him when she realizes he is from Jasoom (Earth). I realize that Stanton took liberties with the canon text, but I liked the changes and hope that the trilogy eventually gets made. It is a movie not for everyone, but if you love action, romance, high adventure, with character development and not just a cartoonish scrip, then you will probably love John Carter. Best film this year IMHO.
Posted by Jeffrey Fouberg on September 12, 2012 at 6:36 PM · Report this

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