'Puzzle' is Well Made, but a Few Pieces are Missing

Based on the film Rompecabezas, Puzzle is one of those little-known independent films that sneaks into theaters with little to no fanfare, although the fact that it is being promoted “from the producer of Little Miss Sunshine” should help it get noticed somewhat. Puzzle is a quiet, little film about a woman who discovers that jigsaw puzzles are the key to changing her life. While the subject matter doesn’t sound all that exciting, the film really isn’t about puzzles but instead about one finding their voice, or so it appears. It’s also a message film that has its own agenda expecting the audience to agree with the choices of the main character and applaud her “brave” behavior. Frankly, it just feels manipulative.

Directed by Marc Turtletaub, Puzzle’s most impactful scene comes within the first few minutes. We see Agnes (Kelly MacDonald) cleaning up the house and they decorating it for a birthday party. Then we see her serving appetizers while being ignored by the guests. …

John Carter is a New Hero for Sci-fi Fans Everywhere

Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch as Dejah Thoris and John Carter
Frank Connor/Disney
One of the most refreshing aspects of Disney’s new release, “John Carter,” is that it isn’t a sequel and is totally original. Hollywood has been trying for decades to make this movie, but this is the very first big screen adaptation of the story.

“John Carter” is based on the book, “A Princess of Mars,” written in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs, better known for his other big story, “Tarzan.” In “Mars,” Burroughs is a character in the story as well. He is apparently the nephew of Captain John Carter who was an American civil war veteran. The movie opens with Burroughs discovering that Carter has left a diary for him to read about Carter’s adventures on Mars.

While looking for gold in the Arizona mountains, Carter, (Taylor Kitsch), find some mysteriously markings on the wall and soon finds himself transported to the planet Mars otherwise known as Barsoom by its inhabitants. He soon discovers that he has gained great strength and can leap huge distances due to the planet’s lesser gravity.  Carter meets Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), one of the Thark chiefs – tall, green, skinny natives who are battling the red humanoid red Martian race. They capture the beautiful Dejah Thoris, (Lynn Collins), a warrior princess of Helium. Carter rescues her and finds himself in the middle of the planet’s own civil war.

I wasn’t very excited to see this picture, but was pleasantly surprised when I did. It is reminiscent of “Star Wars,” “Avatar” and even “Cowboys vs. Aliens.” It’s classic good guys vs. bad guys. It’s a good action flick with some good humor as well. There is a running joke about Carter trying to explain that he is John Carter from Virginia, but the aliens think his name is Virginia. A theme I appreciated in the movie is that when Carter first arrives to Mars, all he wants to do is go home. The aliens are impressed with his super abilities and want him to fight for them, but he refuses to fight for anyone but himself. However, he later decides to give of himself for the good of others.

“John Carter” features great scenery and exciting explosions but the 3D wasn’t impressive. While the Carter and Thoris are easy on the eyes, but the movie doesn’t explore their personalities and doesn’t develop their characters much. The movie runs long and each time you think you’re near the end, there is another chapter to go through. Overall, it wasn’t my cup of espresso.

“John Carter” may or may not become popular with the masses, but, I believe the perfect audience for this film will be that of hardcore sci-fi lovers. And Martians.


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