Matt Adcock’s film review: John Carter

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“When I saw you, I believed it was a sign... that something new can come into this world.”

What do you get if you cross Star Wars, Flash Gordon and Avatar?

Well, John Carter would be one answer and it’s easy to see the influences of these sci-fi epics in this new big budget otherworld opus.

The thing is John Carter’s story was first written in the early 1900s by Tarzan creater Edgar Rice Burroughs and the influences of his books can be seen in many sci-fi films down the years, including the aforementioned.

So John Carter – played by Taylor ‘soon to be seen in Battleship’ Kitsch – finally hits the big screen, a bit late to his own party but eager to please.

Carter is a cavalryman from our little part of the universe, mysteriously transported to Mars where he becomes a pivotal element in a civil war.

The plot is join the dots goodies versus baddies, princess in peril, lovable ‘doglike’ creature that becomes Carter’s sidekick, alien race that adopt Carter, who he will call on to fight for the right side?

It’s pick and mix sci-fi bingo all the way, even if this is a look at the original source, but at least director Andrew ‘Finding Nemo’ Stanton manages to inject the macho nonsense with some heart.

Disney has stumped up the cash for this and the special effects are suitably impressive.

As a result this a decent enough slice of heroic spectacle pumped up with some tasty action sequences.

Kitsch is pretty convincing in the lead role, looking for all the world like a Conan-lite hero, handy with a sword and blessed with the ability to pull off Hulk-scale jumps due to the gravity imbalance.

Lynn Collins is Carter’s love interest, the Martian Princess ‘Dejah Thoris, and she looks the part in some skimpy Princess Leia alike outfits.

The rest of the cast are good, too, making full use of their licence to over act.

That means we get Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas and Samantha Morton as Sola from the four armed green skinned aliens camp, along with Mark Strong as the main villain of piece who rejoices with the marvellous name of Matai Shang.

John Carter isn’t the classic that it would have been if it had been made before George Lucas conjured up the original Star Wars stories, but it offers solid entertainment for anyone who likes their action space bound and who isn’t put off by odd alien names.

In space nobody can hear you scream: ‘Haven’t I seen this somewhere before?’