John Carter has been one of the biggest gambles in recent Hollywood memory, with a huge budget, and much speculation whether it can find an audience or not.
While it remains to be seen how it will do at the box office, the first reviews are finally in, at least ending speculation about how the critics will react to it.
In the Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy called John Carter, "Derivative but charming and fun enough, Disney's mammoth sci-fier is both spectacular and a bit cheesy... Director Andrew Stanton's 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 fillm will most likely delight sci-fi geeks most of all, but there's enough here for general Disney audience as well to generate solid box office worldwide."
Variety, however, was less enthusiastic, calling it "clumsy, spastic and entirely too eager to please. Given the enormity of Disney's investment, John Carter will need more than just the faithful to support the franchise the studio has in mind, and this turgid, visually unappealing sci-fi adventure never gets off the ground. As such, profitability feels like pure fantasy." (Often times, movie reviews between Variety and the Reporter are diametrically opposed, and this is a prime example).
Movieline also reprinted a number of the early reviews for the film with the headline, "A Flawed But Worthwhile Epic?" The reviews they cited included CinemaBlend, calling the film "a tough slog, despite some decent performances," Fan the Fire Magazine wrote that the story "veers between interesting, boring and borderline incomprehensible, and SFX wrote "There are moments when the film soars, only to stall and sputter on a well-meaning but extraneous – or overlong – character moment."
Meanwhile, Badass Digest opined that, "Some of the stuff that Stanton pulls off in John Carter is mind-blowing. There are a few sequences that feel simply classic, like we'll be referring to them for years to come." And finally, the last review I'll cite for now, Foxnews ranked John Carter "a visually stunning testament to [the] sci-fi genre."
So indeed, maybe the Hollywood Reporter's right in that it's "neither classic nor fiasco," though we won't know what audiences think until the weekend.