John Carter

The votes are in and the result is clear: Andrew Stanton is the dud director of Pixar. I guess there had to be one in there somewhere, no sizeable organisation can be perfect. It's clear now that Finding Nemo was a fluke, or perhaps he did a 'Tobe Hooper' on Poltergheist, because nothing he has directed before or after comes anywhere near it in terms of the quality of story telling. A Bug's Life remains the runt of the Pixar house (I've yet to see it in its entirety despite many false starts), Wall-E was half great but John Carter is an incomprehensible mess. As the scribe of many of the great Pixar flicks (my personal favourite being Monsters, Inc.), Stanton is clearly a writing talent but directing? Not so much.

The film is based on Tarzan scribe, Edgar Rice Buroughs' series of books about a civil war cavalryman who accidently finds himself in the middle of a Martian war (don't ask). Mars, it seems, sports various inhabitants - there's good and bad human-ish beings (they have blue blood), strange mystical monkish guys, gods and six-limbed aliens. They are evidently at war for some undisclosed reason (but it's probably over the dying planets resources, I suppose) and our Earthly hero, now imbued with super-human strength, arbitrarily chooses the side of the pretty girl in the bikini (naturally) with the eventual intention of procreation despite the fact that she's actually a different species - there's just no stopping our John! Anything beyond that disappears down the gargantuan gaps in the films internal mythology, though there's probably some American Civil War allegory going on here if only we could figure out what on Mars is actually going on!

The production design is great, however, but that's all the substance there is in this movie. After two plus hours of special FX, the film begins to feel like three and a half hours of incomprehensible, pretty nonsense.

It's clear that Disney were aiming for Avatar with John Carter but they delivered Cowboys vs Aliens. It's big and dumb but not much fun.
Stuart Jamieson

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