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John Carter

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I've seen it. I think it was a totally decent movie. Average but not great. (In the Hollywood of today however "average" is almost "great").

The protagonist is conflicted, but heroic and someone you want to like. The love interest is beautiful but she's also smart with technology and fiercely independent. It's over the top in a pulp-fiction way, but not in that borderline mocking post-modernism way that laughs at itself. There's no "edginess" for the sake of being "edgy" (it is a Disney movie).

Basically the sci-fi setting is a metaphor for war, power, and it's effect on the innocent. Specifically it draws on the Civil War. There's the North (Helium), the South (whatever the red side was called), and the Indians thrown into the mix (the Tharks). You might be raising an eyebrow like I was suspecting it will turn out to be an Avatar/Pocahontas movie that condemns Westerners. But it doesn't come into play.

There are a lot of expensive CG action scenes which is the standard for big budget movies. But it wasn't dumb action just barfed up desperately to keep the audience from being bored. The action was justified by the plot and the conflicts going on. The characters actually have some depth, characterization, and backstory. You may actually wind up liking them and sympathizing with their situation. Pretty rare in "action" movies today.

My main criticism is that the antagonist is bland and not very villainous. We're told he wants control and he has a scary blue magic laser thingy but he's never really shown being all that villainous. Maybe this was a failure that came from translating the books to a script? I don't know. The lacking villain(s) and eventually the climax that turned out to be underwhelming then over-thought took some of the value away. It's also not clear to me why John Carter was so important. Because he's from Earth the gravity difference allows him to jump really high. Okay cool. But why does jumping really high help fight against an endlessly dynamic magical blue laser beam of death? Eh.

It could have been better, but there are far worse movies to spend money on.

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