John Carter 3D Blu-ray Review
I really wanted to like JOHN CARTER 3D. Although I’m not familiar with the original series of novels from Edgar Rice Burroughs, I knew enough to be excited for the film. I love science fiction, I love grand, sweeping epics and I love great visual effects, so despite all the negative publicity surrounding the film, I remained optimistic that it was better than what it received at the box office. To my dismay, JOHN CARTER disappointed on almost every level, from a bland lead actor to subdued special effects, I now understand why audiences shunned JOHN CARTER.
The basic story of JOHN CARTER is that a civil war hero stumbles upon a cave that somehow transports him to Mars, where he’s thrust into a civil war not unlike what he experienced on Earth. But this time, there are spaceships and aliens to complicate things and he now has the remarkable ability to…jump (yes, that’s it). He ends up joining forces with a beautiful princess and together they battle the evil tyrant that’s trying to conquer the planet. So far, so good, right? Things get rough, most notably with Mark Strong’s character, Matai. His inclusion in the film was distracting; he was not human or alien and was set up as some kind of ominous power that controls worlds. He had no motivation and his presence in the film was only distracting.
Throughout the years, I’ve constantly heard of other films ripping off Burroughs’ novels (I’m looking at you, George Lucas), but until I sat down to watch JOHN CARTER, I didn’t realize just how much I’ve seen before. By no fault of director Andrew Stanton, the general feeling I had while watching the film was that I’ve seen it before. I’m sure the filmmakers knew they were basically recreating things that audiences have seen before (the arena battle was extremely close to the battle in ATTACK OF THE CLONES) and although Stanton can claim he was staying true to the novel, the fact remains that as a filmmaker, his loyalty lies in making a good movie. I felt too many times he was trying too hard to stay true to the novels and therefore made too many sacrifices. If we’ve already seen that arena battle before, why not do something slightly different? We can have a giant white ape battle without recreating something we’ve seen before.
One of the biggest problems with the film was the lack of charisma from its lead, Taylor Kitsch. Between this and BATTLESHIP, Kitsch has been responsible for nearly a half billion dollars in losses, so maybe it’s time Hollywood stop jamming him down our throats and trying to convince us he’s a movie star. He clearly is not and his inability to carry any scene in JOHN CARTER should be all the proof anyone needs. He delivered his humorous lines with dryness, his serious lines with staleness and seemingly maintained the same facial expression the entire film. JOHN CARTER wouldn’t have been a great film with a more charismatic lead actor, but it could have at least been more enjoyable.
Some minor tweaks here and there, a different lead actor and some better 3D effects and John Carter may have been a box office success. Even casual movie fans can tell where JOHN CARTER went wrong and the result of the film is a very frustrating movie-going experience.
The most disappointing aspect of JOHN CARTER is the lack of impressive 3D effects. The film is visually stunning and was ripe for plenty of 3D “wow” moments. Sadly, the 3D is barely noticeable and it’s obvious this film was not intended to be in 3D.
Video: JOHN CARTER is a beautiful film and is presented flawlessly on this Blu-ray. Nobody does Blu-ray better than Disney and they prove it once again here.
Audio: The audio matches the video step for step and is reference quality if you want to show off your sound system.
Commentary with Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins: I kept wanting them to address the epic failure of the film and the spiraling production costs, but sadly, they ignored the elephant in the room and kept the commentary focused on the making of the film. It’s still a decent commentary, but I couldn’t help but feel they didn’t say everything they wanted to.
Deleted scenes (19:06): It’s tough to watch CGI-heavy scenes that aren’t finished and so these 10 deleted scenes from JOHN CARTER aren’t much to look at. I’m glad they included them in the Blu-ray set, but they’re instantly forgettable.
100 Years in the Making (9:57): This feature examines the life of Edgar Rice Burroughs and the attempts throughout the years other filmmakers have made to bring John Caarter to the big screen. It’s interesting for its trivia qualities, but I would have liked a longer featurette.
360 Degrees of John Carter (34:53): This is a neat featurette that follows a day in the life on the set of John Carter. This covers your typical makeup and effects departments, but does it in a way that’s entertaining.
Barsoom Bloopers (2:13): Blah. Typical blooper real you find on most Blu-rays.