'Carter' fails to escape Disney's leash

By Matt Bajkowski
Sports Editor
After seeing a commercial for Disney’s most recent movie, “John Carter,”  you were probably left wondering what you had just seen (if you haven’t, here you go http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNVJx7nLDs4&feature=related).
I was was left wondering the same thing too, but that was after I had seen the movie.  Going into Arlington Theaters, I was asking myself a few questions about “John Carter.”  “Will this movie be like ‘Star Wars’?” “Will it be able to shake the influence Disney’s usual princess movies?” “Will I wish I had bought a ticket to ‘Project X’ and made my friend sneak in?”
Do I wish I had gone to see “Project X” instead? Not really.  But although “John Carter” kept me entertained for two hours, I’m not saying it’s a great movie either.
“John Carter” suffers from a combination of two questions I asked myself above.  The movie is similar enough to remind me of Star Wars, but doesn’t come at all close to Star Wars’ level, and doesn’t slip out of Disney’s leash.
Regarding Star Wars, if you took the writing from the “Phantom Menace” (which was horrible), but then also took away the good actors and cool special effects (the only thing that movie has), you have “John Carter.”
 The writing had me confused within the first half hour about who the main character was, even though it’s named “John Carter!” Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a Civil War veteran who has trouble finding a new life after the end of the war.  He strikes it rich finding gold though and earns the attention of some unwanted company.  Carter sends for his nephew, Edgar (Daryl Sabara), by telegraph, who arrives at his uncle’s estate only to find that Carter has suddenly died in his study.
For the next five to ten minutes, the movie seems to focus on Edgar, as Carter’s lawyer explains a whole mess of unnecessary details concerning the will, which had me starting to think this movie was really about Edgar generically uncovering his uncle’s past.  From there, the lawyer randomly drops a book on the desk and leaves without a word.
Edgar begins to read the book and we learn how Carter stumbled across a device that transports him to Mars, where he becomes the most cliché hero of them all (if you want a full plot summary go here http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0401729/synopsis).
And that is my second issue with this movie.  “John Carter” mostly fails before the first scene even appears on the screen. Why? Because you are reminded this is a Disney film in  opening credits.  Carter becomes disillusioned with war after losing his family in the Civil War, and refuses to save the day until he realizes he has fallen in love with the Princess of Mars (Lynn Collins).  If that’s not generic and overused then I really need to reevaluate my life so far.  I’m also pretty sure I could have written the plot for this movie too, which is almost an insult to me!
 While I love to rip this movie apart for the things it does wrong, I do feel obligated remind you that “John Carter” did keep me entertained for a couple of hours.  Some good action scenes, a few stupid but funny jokes, like how Carter is called Virgina because of language barriers, and small homages to great sci-fi films of the past kept me from getting bored and wishing I had spent the night doing something else.
So if you have nothing to do, and don’t mind dropping 10 bucks to for a ticket and some popcorn, go ahead and see “John Carter.” But if you’re down for it, sneaking in to see “Project X” isn’t a bad idea either.