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EW Movie Review: "John Carter"
"John Carter", a new sci-fi epic starring Taylor Kitsch, opens in theaters this week. Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly magazine filed the following review.
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With rare exceptions, we want our superheroes to be classically handsome. But the sprawling interplanetary sci-fi bash "John Carter" proves that it’s possible for a superhero to be incredibly good-looking...in the wrong way. Taylor Kitsch, who stars as the messianic pulp space warrior created a hundred years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, has soft bedroom eyes, a pinup’s pout, and long straight hair that makes him look like an easy-listening star from 1974. Wearing a breastplate and loincloth, Kitsch comes off as the Abercrombie & Fitch model he once was. It’s as if he were out to save an entire planet by lapsing into Derek Zoolander’s poses.
None of this is really the actor’s fault. As a character, John Carter casts a shadow over the whole superhero genre and also movies like "Star Wars". Yet, when seen through the lens of all that has come afterward, what was once original and visionary just seems plodding and routine. A hero of the Virginia Confederate Army teleported through space and time! Futuristic combat on Mars! Big whoop.
"John Carter" marks the live-action directorial debut of Andrew Stanton, the director of Pixar’s "Wall-E", but Stanton’s visual brilliance and storytelling wit get lost amid all the blah hardware and monochromatic dust.
On Barsoom, Burroughs’ fictional name for Mars, Carter wakes up in a desert and discovers his one effective superpower: With the gravity so much less forceful than it is on Earth, he can take flying leaps, like a long jumper. This must have seemed pretty damn exciting in 1912. Now, frankly, it’s more than a little dorky. Carter is set upon by the Tharks, a tribe of tall green warriors who look like skeletal versions of E.T., and there are also humans on Mars, though the moment we meet them, we too seem to have been transported -- to a bad sci-fi movie from the ’50s.
"John Carter" is full of digital spectacle, but it’s an arid, plodding bore, because everything in the movie has been done so many times before, and so much better.