Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Video review: "John Carter"
I rise now in defense of "John Carter." Unfairly labeled as a disastrous flop among the worst in cinematic history, the action/fantasy was neither as much of a money-loser as the studio accountants would have you believe, or nearly as bad as naysayers claim.
Indeed, "John Carter" has made $272 million worldwide, exceeding its reported production budget of $250 million (which, granted, does not include marketing and distribution costs). Once video and TV receipts are counted up, the movie should break even or even pull in a modest profit.
As to quality, it's certainly an uneven picture with a dizzying array of characters and mythology to grasp. But it's also an ambitious package of eye candy and CGI action, the biggest spectacle this side of "Avatar."
Taylor Kitsch plays the title character, a regretful Civil War veteran who gets zapped to the surface of Mars, which in this vision based on the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is very much inhabited. In fact, a war between different factions of Martians has been raging for 1,000 years, and John Carter finds himself caught in the middle of it.
Because of the different gravities, Carter finds he has amazing powers, especially the ability to leap hundreds of feet into the air. In addition to the Martians, there is a four-armed race of nomads called Tharks, and a mysterious group, the Therns, who whisper into the ears of the Martians and give powerful weapons to those they favor.
Give "John Carter" a chance on video -- you'll find a fun flick that exceeds expectations.
Bonus features are quite good. The DVD comes with an audio commentary track by director Andrew Stanton ("Finding Nemo") and other filmmakers, and a featurette following the 100-year journey of Burroughs' pulp novels to the screen.
Upgrade to the Blu-ray/DVD combo pack, and you add several other goodies. There are a number of deleted scenes with commentary; "Barsoom Bloopers;" "360 Degrees of John Carter," a look at the complicated filmmaking process of the one the movie's biggest scenes; and "Disney Second Screen," an interactive journal that extends the mythology of the movie.
Movie: 3 stars out of four
Extras: 3.5 stars