Reviews: ‘21 Jump Street, ‘John Carter’
21 JUMP STREET
When a couple of newbie cops mess up reading Miranda Rights on their first arrest, they don’t get fired, they are reassigned to “21 Jump Street,” where they find themselves back in high school coping with reading, writing, popularity and seeking out those pushing drugs.
Jonah Hill (Schmidt) and Channing Tatum (Jenko) star as the rookies who had been park bicycle law enforcers waiting and waiting for the car chases, guns firing, and explosions derived from watching too many cop movies. The too-laid-back law enforcers quickly see the school assignment as a means to rectify all their prior misdeeds, but the student hierarchy has done a 180 – geeks now rule and those who are gifted socially actually have to study.
Unlike the strictly serious “Mod Squad,” these undercover “teen cops” grapple more with applications of “cool,” since the they crossed the stage with a diploma. I’m implying nothing is off limits, but do not anticipate Judd Apatow’s raunchy language. The words are tamed and the imagery goes up a notch or two. Best scenes: Grown-up cops buy alcohol for school party, grown-up immature cops stare at teacher, grown-up cops go to principal’s office, and grown-up cops steal driver’s education vehicle for bad guy chase. Look for cameos from and constant references to “Molly.”
Biggest howls come from culture reversals and boomerang assignments back home and chores that go with the venue.
Planet hopping inspired the 1910 John Carter of Mars series. Although Edgar Rice Burroughs’s swashbuckling interplanetary Indiana Jones landed on the dying Red Planet sans rocket vessel, his mix of tribal battles have not been previously gobbled up for the silver screen, despite “Star Wars” and other tent-pole science fiction successes.
John has come to theatres, but he may not be back. Lush sandy Mars-scapes have cost Disney a quarter of a billion dollars. They put their change on the effects screen and relied on unknowns for the cast. A last minute marketing campaign to relate “John Carter” to “Avatar” and “Star Wars” has not taken hold in the U.S.
Carter has a dated feel – say, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” or “The Time Machine” – screenwriters relied on the author’s original story surrounding a post-Civil War time frame. The opening English mansion could have doubled for a “Sherlock Holmes” sequel, unfortunately, Sherlock has name recognition like Tarzan, John Carter does not, unless you’re a hardened science fiction fan.
Hardly comparable to “Ishtar” except for the sand, “Carter” deserved a franchise while Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch delivered chemistry. What went wrong? It’s a year when the Red Planet is not cool, so this epic blending of CGI, animation and live action tall barbarians desperately needs a marketing recognition reboot.