Movie Review | John Carter
I grew up watching sci-fi shows like Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, so it will come as no surprise to people who know those geeky facts about me that I was impatiently awaiting the day that I would get to see Disney’s latest live action flick, John Carter.
100 years ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs introduced us to the character of John Carter in the first of his Barsoom series, A Princess of Mars (which was originally a serialized story). The character that Burroughs created became so popular that comic books, artwork, and animation all portrayed him. And now Disney has brought him to life in an epic action/adventure film that far exceeded my expectations.
Director/writer Andrew Stanton has been a fan of the Edgar Rice Burroughs series since childhood, and it has always been his dream to see it as a film on the big screen. Stanton has also been involved with other Disney projects, including WALL*E, Finding Nemo, and A Bug’s Life, to name a few.
The story of John Carter begins on Earth with the introduction of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a Civil War veteran no longer interested in fighting for anyone’s cause after experiencing a devastating personal loss. After outsmarting higher ranking officers with his escape, John Carter finds himself in a cave where he is then transported to planet Mars, which is called Barsoom by its inhabitants.
Once he awakens in his new surroundings, he discovers that he has become incredibly strong and that he can jump high and far to get from one point to another. He is soon taken captive by the savages of Barsoom, 4-armed green creatures called Tharks who speak in a language he cannot understand. Eventually he earns their respect with his newfound abilities, and cautiously survives by attempting to understand their way of life.
The Tharks are not the only beings who inhabit Barsoom, however. John Carter soon finds himself tangled with the people of Helium, who are at war with the Zodangans. The leader of the Zodangans has a powerful weapon on his side and the assistance of very powerful immortals. If the princess of the Heliumites, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) agrees to marry Sab Than (Dominic West), the war will come to an end.
John Carter, Dejah Thoris, and a Thark named Sola become unlikely allies as they search for a way to transport John Carter home to Earth and Dejah Thoris attempts to convince John Carter to fight for the Heliumites and save the planet of Barsoom from Sab Than.
John Carter is one of those rare films that truly has is all: humor, action, adventure, romance, and a great plot. There is never a dull moment on screen during this film, which I delightedly got to experience in 3D. (Note: though it wasn’t filmed in 3D, the conversion looked pretty flawless to me!)
I always have to pick out a favorite character to root for in films, but I had a difficult time with this one because there were four characters that really stood out to me: John Carter, Dejah Thoris, Sola, and Woola. I like John Carter because he is such a complex character; there are so many layers to him, and even though he is reluctant to fight for anyone anymore, his strong moral code makes it so that he is unable to resist. I adore Deja Thoris because she is sharp-tongued, passionate, intelligent, and can kick butt. Sola intrigues me because she rebels repeatedly against her society; she has more of a heart than any of them do. Her love for her father knows no bounds. Woola is a lizard-like dog that sort of reminded me of something out of The Neverending Story. He becomes loyal to John Carter after he defends him from getting beaten. Though he doesn’t speak, he is still very expressive with his actions and facial features. I’d love my very own Woola!
I’d intended to read A Princess of Mars before seeing John Carter, but now I’m glad that I waited. I know there are going to be some significant differences between the two, especially in regards to Deja Thoris, who is described as more the “damsel in distress” type in the book. It was best for me to have nothing else in mind to compare this movie or these characters to.
John Carter evoked quite a few different emotions in me; it’s more than just the average action flick. You’ll see subtle signs of prejudice, clashing of cultures, and two very separate systems of beliefs uniting for a common cause. Best of all, John Carter is something that your entire family can see together. I personally recommend it for ages 10 and up, but suggest that parents view it first to determine if their own child can handle some of the more intense fighting scenes.
*I received tickets courtesy of Love Communications to attend an advance screening of John Carter in order to write this review. No other compensation was received. Any thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.*