Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom series is glorious century-old pre-pulp science fiction. It’s overwrought, vaguely jingoistic, completely absurd, and utterly fantastic in every definition of the word. There’s no reason why a movie based on the series shouldn’t be equally entertaining.
And yet…it’s not. There’s airships, there’s walking cities, there are sword fights and weird creatures and four-armed giants played by Willem Defoe. There’s no reason for it to be dull, ever. But the first half somehow manage to make me wonder when the good bits were coming more than once. Granted, something amazingly cool would generally happen soon after thinking it, but the thought kept coming up. The second half is much better, with a substantially higher awesome/meh ratio. Still slow spots, but less of them.
Which isn’t to say you shouldn’t see it. You absolutely should, as it’s pure escapist retro science fantasy and when it’s brilliant, it shines. I’d watch the sequel. Shame it’s probably not getting one.