‘John Carter’: The Reviews Are In!

Critics are not finding much to praise in film based on Edgar Rice Burroughs hero.
By Kevin P. Sullivan

Taylor Kitsch in "John Carter"
Photo: Disney

Disney's $250 million effort to bring the iconic Edgar Rice Burroughs hero, to the screen is certainly not making critics leap for joy supernaturally high because of differences in gravity. In fact, many have outright damned the film, while others have found a deep and fun love of B-movie and pulp traditions

We've rounded up a sampling of reviews of "John Carter," so you'll know whether to head out to the theater this weekend.

The Story
"Our hero is John Carter, the Confederate Civil War veteran who strikes gold in the Arizona territory but who is whisked to the planet Barsoom on the flimsiest of pretexts. Barsoom is Mars by another name, and the Virginia-born Carter lands in the middle of another civil war, this one between the Heliumites and the Zondangans. Dejah Thoris, the Heliumite princess known also as 'the red girl,' is about to be married off against her will. But love finds a way, and while Taylor Kitsch's hunky John Carter and Lynn Collins' dishy princess smolder as effectively as possible under the circumstances, Kitsch in particular seems lost in ways unrelated to his character's predicament." — Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

Taylor Kitsch
"If the movie had a leading actor with the galactic charisma necessary for the task, we might even be talking classic sci-fi. Since it's impossible to put Harrison Ford into the Wayback Machine, though, we're stuck with the unfortunately named Taylor Kitsch (TV's 'Friday Night Lights') as John Carter, the burned-out Civil War veteran who finds himself mysteriously transported to the Red Planet while searching for gold in the caves of Arizona. Kitsch is decent company — manly, muscled, noble, sardonic — but there's nothing unique about him, and we follow him by default." — Ty Burr, Boston Globe

The Backstory
"It starts with a great story — of love and politics, time travel and mystical pathways between planets — badly sucked dry. Based on 'A Princess of Mars,' the post-Civil War/pre-Tarzan brainchild of arguably one of the most entertaining non-Disney imagineers of all times, Edgar Rice Burroughs, the book and the Barsoom (a.k.a. Mars) series that would follow has been picked over for plot points by Hollywood for years." — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times

The Pixar Connection
"The Pixar touch is evident in the precision of the visual detail and in the wit and energy of Michael Giacchino's score, but the quality control that has been exercised over this project also has a curiously undermining effect. The movie eagerly sells itself as semitrashy, almost-campy fun, but it is so lavish and fussy that you can't help thinking that it wants to be taken seriously, and therefore you laugh at, rather than with, its mock sublimity." — A.O. Scott, New York Times

The Final Word
"The film was directed by Andrew Stanton, whose credits include 'A Bug's Life' (1998), 'Finding Nemo' (2003) and 'WALL-E' (2008). All three have tight, well-structured plots, and that's what 'John Carter' could use more of. The action sequences are generally well-executed, but they're too much of a muchness. Does 'John Carter' get the job done for the weekend action audience? Yes, I suppose it does." — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Check out everything we've got on "John Carter."

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