Ok, so here comes yet another film that is only about one thing - VFX. Not that one expected a masterpiece in the form of 'John Carter' which has almost arrived unannounced and that too, when it is none less than Disney backing it up. Still, going by the promos, one had got a fair idea about the basic route that this film would be taking.
A conflict between the good and bad, a tour round the alien land (in this case Mars), a beefy man whose job is to keep the women audience engaged (well, if VFX is not their pri9me idea of entertainment) and some massive production values that would ensure that this one is a big screen watch.
Well, in all these endeavours, 'John Carter' does score well. It has a larger than life appeal (but of course, given the fact that the film is set in Mars), has enough eye candy, is set on a huge scale, has some superbly crafted action sequences and boasts of a background track that keeps the tempo high for most part of the engagement. The storyline too, despite being predictable, is easy to comprehend and since the film is basically targeted at kids and young adults, there isn't any complexity brought into the screenplay here.
This means that lead protagonist (played by a largely unknown face Taylor Kitsch who has appeared in bit roles in a few feature films) has a job cut out to keep peace at Mars. However in the process of doing that, he has to battle it all out with the species of all kinds. With modern technology of their own in hand, the inhabitants at Mars have their weapons and other measures which means there is ample scope for novelty to be brought in.
However this is where 'John Carter' doesn't quite earn much brownie points for itself since from the core situations perspective, one gets a strong sense of deja vu. While 'Star Wars' is an immediate comparison point, one also tends to remember 'Avatar' which seems to have set a huge benchmark already when it comes to set ups involving aliens. One can't blame the makers of newer films either because James Cameron has pioneered the entire enterprise in such a manner than anything and everything which is being made today is bound to go through the comparison route.
This is what happens in case of 'John Carter' as well where right from the battle between the good and bad, the cry of saving a planet, the huge battle ships, the inhabitants fighting for their survival, the 'differently' shaped species and a host of animals who seem totally unbelievable and out of this world (poor pun, but definitely intended!), there is a strong sense of 'seen it done all'. It is due to this very reason that despite momentary entertainment that one does get while watching this near two hour affair, there isn't much that remains with you after the show has ended.
Now that's a little disappointing considering the fact that the director at the helm of affairs, Andrew Stanton, is the same man who has given two brilliant films before - 'Finding Nemo' and 'Wall E'. In his third attempt, he gets it right from the production and the VFX perspective. However how one wishes that the story being told had a similar depth as evidenced in his earlier attempts.