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John Carter Blu-ray Review

Director Andrew Stanton is in over his head with “John Carter.”

The plot: Civil War Captain John Carter is transported to the alien world Barsoom where he becomes caught up in a planet wide conflict involving a variety of species. Note: I’m keeping this vague on purpose so as to not spoil the plot.

Upon release, “John Carter” received decidedly mixed reviews and was a notorious box office failure. While it’s certainly not the turkey some have proclaimed it, it’s not exactly worth forking over cash for either. The failure of “John Carter” is really a direct result of bad timing and an in over his head director (Andrew Stanton). Had ‘Carter’ been released at a time where the material was fresh, it might have been a hit. Unfortunately, after films like “Star Wars” and “Avatar,” ‘Carter’ is simply nowhere near as inventive or fresh as when Edgar Rice Burroughs’ popular books were released. Instead, the film adaptation always seems to be trying to recapture the excitement and creativity of the classic sci-fi films the novel more or less inspired. Alas, ‘Carter’ never can recapture that excitement or creativity of those films. Why? Two words: Andrew Stanton.

Andrew Stanton, a veteran animation director who did the great “Wall-E” and “Finding Nemo,” has never directed a live-action film before and it shows here. The pacing of the film is brutal, the exposition is clumsy and time consuming, and there isn’t a memorable action set piece to be had here. One has to wonder what “John Carter” would have been like had great directors like Kerry Conran or Jon Favreau managed to get the project off the ground instead.

On the plus side, the cast is fairly solid. Lynn Collins (Dejah) and Taylor Kitsch (John Carter) do a fine job as the leads. The really scene stealer, however, is the super fast CGI beastie Woola who provides some of the film’s much needed comedic relief.

Summary: “John Carter” is a noble, but ultimately disappointing effort. You can’t help but feel like this would have been a stronger film under more capable hands.

Video/Audio:

“John Carter,” which is presented in 2.40:1 1080p, doesn’t look as good as it did on the big screen. The CGI and green screen work are much more apparent on home video which can be distracting to say the least. The hi-def clarity simply looks too good here because it just points out all of the flaws.

The 7.1 DTS-HD audio track is somewhat of a disappointment as well. The action is top notch, but the dialogue levels are too low. There isn’t a proper balance between the two so you might have to keep adjusting the sound levels throughout the film.

Extras
* DVD Copy.
* Disney trailers.
* 10 deleted scenes with an intro by Andrew Stanton. Optional commentary for the deleted scenes by Andrew Stanton is also included.
* “Barsoom Bloopers”- Cheesy.
* “360 Degrees Of John Carter”- A full-fledged look at the various aspects of a film production on a single day on set. Honestly, this is more interesting than the film itself.
* “100 Years In The Making”- A featurette that explores Burroughs’ career, the “John Carter Of Mars” books, and the journey of how the story came to be a feature film. Another great extra here. The team who put these special features together deserves a lot of praise.
* “Disney Second Screen”- A downloadable app featuring interactive content in John Carter’s journal.
* Commentary by Andrew Stanton, Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins. In listening to this commentary, it is clearly a passion project for Stanton. His enthusiasm is quite infectious and he can really carry a commentary. It’s a shame the film wasn’t better.

June 5, 2012 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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