• The Hollywood Reporter on LinkedIn
  • Follow THR on Pinterest

'John Carter': What the Critics Are Saying

© 2011 Disney

One reviewer called the pricey Disney sci-fi movie, in theaters this weekend, "messy and chaotic."

Action-adventure movie John Carter hits theaters this weekend, competing against Eddie Murphy comedy A Thousand Words, horror flick Silent House with Elizabeth Olsen and Salmon Fishing in the Yemen with Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt, among others.

PHOTOS: 'John Carter' Premiere Red Carpet Arrivals

Director Andrew Stanton's pricey sci-fi epic movie cast includes many actors who are best known for roles they've played on TV: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton and Willem Dafoe. The Disney film is based on A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs and written by Mr. Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon.

John Carter's expensive budget of more than $250 million is expecting to open with $30 million at the domestic box office. Will it take The Lorax's crown, which opened to a  $70.2 million last weekend? Here is what the critics think about John Carter:

The Hollywood Reporter film critic Todd McCarthy called the movie a fiasco. "This Disney extravaganza is a rather charming pastiche, if perhaps not one with sufficient excitement and razzle-dazzle to justify the reported $250 million production budget. Neither classic nor fiasco, the film will likely delight sci-fi geeks most of all, but there's enough here for general Disney audiences as well to generate solid box office worldwide."

FILM REVIEW: John Carter

 A. O. Scott from New York Times says the movie is "messy and chaotic, in other words, but also colorful and kind of fun." He also writes, "There is more. There is nothing but more: a huge cast, soaring digital architecture, creatures both adorable and fearsome, lines of dialogue (“Thurns are a myth!”) made even more ridiculous by being uttered in earnest. The silliness — much of which is clearly intentional — is blended with some genuine grandeur."

Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharke writes, "Sadly, John's problems are John Carter's problems, it's just that while our hero eventually figures out how to stop falling down, the movie never does. John Carter is the latest version of a long and rich Hollywood tradition: The big-budget (a reported $250-million-plus) fiasco. It's enough to make your jaw drop."

USA Today's Claudia Puig points out that the movie is a shame for Stanton after the the success of WALL-E and the charming Finding Nemo. She goes on and says, "Though the project, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel A Princess of Mars, is ambitious, it's also bloated, dreary and humorless. It's tedious even during its frantic action scenes, many of which also involve computer-generation and performance-capture technology."

As for Kitsch's performance she writes, "Kitsch does his best with the lackluster Carter character, but his acting was more impressive as a teenage football star on TV's Friday Night Lights."

Owen Gleiberman from Entertainment Weekly writes, "Stanton keeps cutting back and forth between visually sleek shots of them and the clunky action taking place on board. He seems to have forgotten the first rule of digital effects: They don't work unless they're fully integrated. But then, nothing in John Carter really works, since everything in the movie has been done so many times before, and so much better."