(out of 5)
A film that is truly as terrible as you have heard it is. The industry watched in horror as a $250 million dollar blockbuster sank from the word go, ignored by audiences upon its opening weekend and (justifiably) lambasted by critics for having nothing to recommend it. Based loosely on the story A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs, it tells of a young rebel (Taylor Kitsch) who escapes being drafted into the Civil War and, curiously, ends up on the Red Planet instead. There, he takes part in a conflict between an alien race and humanoid overlords, working himself up from misfit to hero in a very long 130 minutes of dithering screen time. Most of the actors deliver junky dialogue in the hopes that they’ll at least buy something good with their pay cheques; the rest of it is a mess compounded by bad plotting, lifeless direction and unattractive visual effects. There is no sense of adventure and even less wonder: for a film that’s so huge and complicated it uses a very simplistic method to get him from one planet to the other and then, when he is there, gives you little more than the visual palette of an American desert. I hesitate to pass much judgment on Kitsch’s performance in the lead; he seems not to have the charisma to carry a film this size, but it would also be unfair to blame anyone for being terrible when surrounded with such drivel (particularly considering that the more established actors in the cast embarrass themselves as well).
Directed by Andrew Stanton
Cinematography by Daniel Mindel
Music by Michael Giacchino
Production Design by Nathan Crowley
Costume Design by Mayes C. Rubeo
Film Editing by Eric Zumbrunnen