John Carter (2012)
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John Carter (Kitsch) is an American Civil War soldier who is transported to Mars. He first encounters the green skinned warlike nomads known as the Tharks and, due to his superhuman powers (Mars gravity and all that), quickly becomes embroiled in not only the political issues of the Tharks, but those of the red skinned, humanoid Martians as well. The humanoids control Mars through a series of city states with Zodanga annihilating everything in it's path. Helium is the last free state. Helium also has a beautiful and feisty Princess (Collins) and a political marriage to save all has been arranged. Then she meets our handsome hero .yep you guessed it. The two fall in love and are now fighting for not just what they love and believe in but who they love and believe in.
This movie is based on the book Princess of Mars, the first in a series of 11 novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 years ago. They are also known as The Barsoom or John Carter of Mars series. A lot of what you have seen in these types of movies up until now has drawn, in some way, on this series of novels. Star Wars, Avatar, Babylon 5, Flash Gordon and even some Indiana Jones. I am sure the list is endless but Sci Fi is not my genre. When you watch John Carter, you will be able to pick the similarities immediately.
If you are aware of this movie's existence, then you are probably aware of the negative attention it has garnered. I saw this movie over 2 weeks ago and have had to watch as people all over the internet trash it. They have laughed at Disney for spending $250 million on an obvious dud. They have said Disney has distanced itself from the movie before it's release. They have criticised everything from the trailers to the posters to the casting of 2 unknowns as the leads. Oh and they have done all this without having seen the movie! These people are best ignored and sent back to their mother's basements!!
Now, I will say that Disney has done itself NO favours whatsoever with the posters and trailers for John Carter. This I will concede. But I have found the best trailer on You Tube and it was made by serious fans of the books thejohncarterfiles.
Please, if you are going to watch a trailer for this movie, make it this one. It just gives you a much better idea of what the movie looks like.
So what did I think? I LOVED it. I really, truly did. I wanted to see it because I had read so much about it over the last few years. Sci Fi may not be my thing but that doesn't mean I don't know what's going on in the land of movie making.
This movie has all the blockbuster action we have come to expect from this genre. The CGI is spectacular. The Martian characters are fantastic. The stand out Martian is without a doubt Woola, a pet that adopts John Carter and is as ugly as he is adorable. An ugly slug like animal that will melt your heart. Trust me :) There is good vs evil. There is Martian vs Martain. There is human vs human. There is serious stuff. There is fun stuff. A stand out scene I just cannot resist mentioning .
When Carter does arrive on Mars, his introduction to Tars Tarkas is absolutely hilarious. The mistake with his name becomes an ongoing gag throughout the movie and to great affect. Even our hero gives up, smiles and just shakes his head. Oh and yes, there is a very easy and believable reason why they all speak English.
This movie is for everyone who likes Star Wars or Avatar. It's for everyone who ever wished they could go to Mars. It's for everyone who likes a love story between a handsome hero and beautiful, spirited Princess. It's for everyone who wants to see a great movie and escape, literally, to another world for 2 hours. It's for everyone who likes a simple Sci Fi story. It's for everyone who likes a layered story they can think on a little later. It's for little kids (although at over 2 hours running length it may just be a tad too long for our littlest movie goers) and it's for big kids.
Ignore the critics and go see this movie. I think you will enjoy it. I saw it in 3D and I usually think 3D is a waste of money (sorry studios) but for this movie, fork out the extra $5 and see it in 3D.
Mars never looked so good.
So what has Andrew Stanton given us?
Anwer: A gem that shines bright and true with a light all its own. Stanton has taken the grandmaster's story but he's made it his own and it's fresh and emotionally stirring in ways that are unexpected and make you want to see it a second time, and soon. The gem is not without a few rough edges -- but the core brilliance is unmistakable and undeniable.
Stanton is a subtle and sophisticated storyteller with a Pixarian's understanding of how to build characters that stay with you. Whereas Cameron in Avatar was content to extract the simple essence of the Burroughsian pulp narrative and just "go with it", Stanton keeps enough of that to keep the material recognizable but constructs characters that, in deft and certain strokes, emerge as fully realized beings who engage us and draw us in to their stories in ways that exceed what his predecessors Burroughs, Lucas, and Cameron were able to do. The result is a richer, character driven experience that transcends the dear sweet old pulpy fiber on which it is based and becomes something grander, richer, and more satisfying.
A word about how the film differs from what you're seeing in trailers: The promotion promises spectacle and action and there is plenty of that; but the promotion also suggests that the film will be a kind of childishly simple, woodenly executed mashup of questionable seriousness featuring awkward performances and cartoonish characterization while the film itself is almost the inverse of that--a thoughtful, finely tune spectacle that is a feast of imaginative transport and whose few flaws flow from the fact that it's a three hour epic that plays in two hours and twelve minutes.
Taylor Kitsch is convincing and natural and I never thought I'd be saying that, based on the promotion. Lynn Collins is luminous and elevates fully to the level of the "incomparable" Princess of Helium -- genuinely beautiful and strong of will and heart. Willem Dafoe as Tars Tarkas and Samantha Morton as Sola; Mark Strong as the delicious villain Matai Shang -- the cast is without exception strong. The special effects are state o the art and seamless -- and the music by Michael Giachinno deserves special mention: haunting, unique, and uniquely suited to the material, and the editing by Eric Zumbrunnen seamlessly supports the narrative.
The "flaws" amount to quibbles: The film feels lean and compact at 2 hours and 12 minutes and feels as if it could benefit greatly from 10 additional minutes which could have been used profitably to better set up the moment when John Carter and Dejah Thoris "close the deal" on their love, and clarify some story points that are there -- but could be highlighted more. Another beat of John Carter's life among the Tharks, implying a passage of time, would cause John Carter's later knowledge of the Tharks and their culture to make more sense (as it is now he seems to pick it up in a matter of days and as audience we never see where that knowledge comes from ). Another beat of John Carter absorbing the new world he finds himself in, and implicitly comparing it to what he left behind, would be welcome and would strengthen the impact we would feel when he makes that choice. But these minor points should not distract for the overall brilliance with which Stanton has executed a challenging assignment.
This is a film that bears watching more than once, and is complex and nuanced enough that subsequent viewings will no doubt reveal new treasures and clarify the minor rough edges -- yet it is also compelling and moving on an immersive first viewing in the theater. Perhaps the best indication of that is the fact that, in spite of my supposed knowledge of and sensitivity to film structure -- I was taken by surprise when it ended and was in no way ready for it to end. Could the full two hours have gone by that fast? How? And as I sit here writing about it the next morning, if there were an opportunity to go back and see it again tonight, I would do so without hesitation and, quibbles aside, that's a simple but ultimately profound recommendation.
A final thought: Like everyone, I've got plenty of things going on in my life and my world, distracting things, things that makes me worry, things that drag my mind out of a movie when I'm watching it and back into my world. Not one little tiny bit of that intruded into this movie. I was transported and when it was over I couldn't believe that was it -- I thought there was at least another 45 minutes owed to the audience. On a visceral level, without trying to overthink it -- that says a lot about what Andrew Stanton has accomplished, building on the foundation of the grandmaster Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Who makes something and how much they pay to have it made has nothing to due with the quality of what is actually produced, it may be indicative of quality or lack thereof, but the final product speaks for itself. Reviews of John Carter tell us more about film critics than the critics told us about the film. It was practically perfect. "Incomprehensible plotting"??? They laid the groundwork for the presumed sequels by deliberately leaving a few questions unanswered, which I hope they still make and answer because I loved this first one! Mars was epic, and then in the end we are reminded that the story began on Earth and the film ends stronger than I could have hoped for! An excellent story masterfully told on screen.
I never read any of the books so only had a vague synopsis of the story just from trailers which didn't really impress me much.
Well, this turned out to be quite a blast. Its an enjoyable if very cheesy Sci-fi fantasy blockbuster. It has the spirit and energy of Flash Gordon including its own outrageously nonsensical but fun premise. It isn't as cheesy as that film but there is a definite lean towards it. The story is quite a novel mix of Planet of the Apes, Conan, Red Sonja, Avatar, Star Wars and Superman (yep this is a superhero movie too). We even have a western thrown in the mix at the beginning. I was going to say there isn't anything original here but how can I? This story was published in the 19th century so from that perspective, I can now see a lot of plot influences deriving from this in later SF/fantasy films.
A lot of money was spent on this movie and it shows. The special effects here are pretty awesome. Not necessarily ground breaking, everything on screen has been done before but its all smoothly done at a grand scale though not quite to the scale of the Star Wars prequels. Effects that stood out for me were John Carters "Hulk" like jumps, Martian sky ship battles, green martians (as good as Avatar), and a cute monster dog sidekick that almost steels the show.
Another major feature of the film was the cinematography. Its quite spectacular and for a barren dead desert planet, its surprisingly stunning.
One of the biggest surprise for me was the 3D. Its post conversion which most often results in poorer quality than films which are filmed in 3D from the start. But an exception can be made here. This is hands down the best 3d conversion film I have seen. The 3d depth was outstanding and really shows its power in numerous landscape and action scenes. This is probably the second best 3d live action film I've seen overall (either filmed in 3d or post converted) and I am normally anti-3d when it comes to live action films.
Taylor Kitsch who plays John Carter has just about enough screen presence portraying a likable anti hero with a punchy attitude and a sense of past history haunting him. Its a Han Solo type role but he plays it more brooding. There is even a Princess Leia and the age old storyline of helping a Princess to fight a war but each with their own agendas. Its all very clichéd, yet still enjoyable.
As much fun as I had with this, there is no denying that there is a lot wrong with it too. I could pick on flaws and lack of logic all day long with this film some of which are smack on the head stupid and some elements I desperately wished more or better development on. The dialogue while often funny, also often dive bombs into cringe-worthiness (much like a Lucas script), the developing romance was very disjointed and sometimes embarrassing (think Anakin and Padme levels of embarrassment). The 3 way war politics was not very clear, major characters not fleshed out enough and there's a whole lot of story loopholes. Yet there is still a lot more fun to be had to override those flaws.
I have a feeling that book lovers will be disappointed because I can detect a lot of back story is missing here and key characters seem very short changed on their development and motives (particularly with the green martians) which I am sure would have been fully fleshed out in the book. However, I reckon if you enjoy films like Thor and GI Joe, you'll have a great time with this. This wont be a classic or even a cult movie but it is a satisfying piece of cinema escapism. And its enough for me to want to read the books!
I'm not going to spoil it for you, the less you know the better. I will tell you that John Carter was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the man who wrote Tarzan. But unlike Tarzan this is science fiction. If you liked Star Wars, if you liked Willow, if you like adventure and action movies then check this one out. I might even buy it, which I almost never do any more. This was SUCH a pleasant surprise.
I just wish I had a 3D TV, because it comes in 3D also.
So, the plot revolves around a Civil War veteran who is somehow transported to Barsoom (aka Mars), where he must help a princess and a colony succeed in a heated battle against another feuding colony.
Director Andrew Stanton delivered well in this epic take of John Carter. Sure, star Taylor Kitsch seems like he's trying a little too hard as the lead guy, but it looks like he's heading toward the same path left behind by Jake Gyllenhaal for "Prince of Persia": serious character figure, yet sometimes able to show unintentional humor usually without noticing. Though not bad on either one's part!
Since John Carter was conceived as a story back in 1912 by Edgar Rice Burroughs (of Tarzan fame), I have to say that this movie is certainly NOT a rip-off. A film like this deserves more credit than initially given! Epic action/adventure films like "Star Wars" and "Avatar" wouldn't exist today without these early roots! It pretty much sparked an influence on the sci-fi, action, adventure genre films that most audiences came to know decades later.
It looks like Stanton's following exactly what his fellow Pixar colleague Brad Bird had done with Tom Cruise in "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," stepping up as director for once in live-action! Not bad for their first time.
The man in question is John Carter from Virginia, ex-Civil War soldier who lost his family and is now gold prospecting. Proceedings are rather slow-going in the beginning of the film, although it's necessary set-up for what's to come. Things don't really get interesting until Carter's transported to Mars, which is known as Barsoom by the inhabitants there, who are 9 to 15 foot tall four-armed green aliens with tusks called Tharks. Thanks to the lower gravity of Mars, Carter has enhanced strength and can leap great distances. We even get a montage devoted to him discovering as much. Some Tharks discover him, the least hostile of which is one named Tars Tarkas (voiced by Willem Dafoe), who winds up thinking Carter's name is Virigina due to miscommunication. Subtitles are used up until Carter is eventually able to understand the Tharks and we hear them speaking in English. At one point he comes to the rescue of an alien dog named Woola, who is extremely loyal/fast and becomes his constant companion. Carter also finds an ally in Sola (Samantha Morton). Eventually he meets the Princess of Mars herself, Dejah Thoris, after having rescued her (it's what he does). And this is where the real story begins.
As John Carter and Dejah Thoris, Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins reunite (after the rather ho-hum affair that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine). Kitsch fits the role of the long-haired hero well (although he is saddled with some rather dodgy dialogue at times). His reactions to the bizarre situations, customs, etc that he finds himself having to deal with are pretty good. He is well-paired with Lynn Collins, who manages to make Dejah actually very human (like when she's nervous about the presentation she's about to give when we first meet her in the city-state of Helium...though, oddly enough, nobody there speaks with funny high-pitched voices like you'd expect). She's certainly the prettiest thing on Mars, but she's also very smart, as well as able to handle herself in a fight. She's equal parts scientist and action heroine. Kitsch and Collins play off each other very well, sharing both humorous and touching moments between them. Also good is James Purefoy as Kantos Kan. Although it's not a big role, he manages to make the most of it and is easily likable, as well as amusing at times. Mark Strong, meanwhile, continues to be the go-to guy for playing a villain.
The story is not exactly easy to follow if you aren't paying attention. There's a lot of names of things to keep track of, as well as some twists and turns here and there. The film feels like it kind of rushes things a bit towards the end, as it has to wrap up stuff. Given the running time, you wouldn't think things would need to be like this, but it seems the makers realised their movie was reaching the limit of its runtime and there was still some stuff left to address at the last minute.
The effects on display are as dazzling as Dejah's blue eyes. The thought and effort that has gone into designing/creating the creatures, the ships, the costumes, etc is fully on display on the screen. The music helps too. While this movie might not be everyone's cup of tea, it does offer something a bit different in place of what could have been a rather paint-by-the-numbers affair. Yes, some parts are predictable, but there are also some parts that you might not expect. Don't let the trailers fool you, it's not just all mindless action. There is some actual real story going on here (provided, of course, that you can keep track of/follow it). Recommended for anyone who's looking for a slightly off-kilter sci-fi film.
No, it was Andrew Stanton's JOHN CARTER.
My excitement was not the universal feeling. Disney advertising had dropped the ball and the trailers seemed lackluster to most. Yet something within directed me toward it like a compass points to True North. There was something special about it, something just out of view in the trailers that wouldn't let me go. I trust my obsessions, always, but at some point I got to feeling a bit exhausted and just wanted to know if I was right or maybe a total loon.
I've now been to two advance screenings of JOHN CARTER.
And? Holy Living Thark! The bar on science fiction and fantasy movies has Officially Been Raised.
JOHN CARTER is based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars --a novel first published a century ago. I expected to come out of the movie with my head full of comparisons to all the things Burroughs' imagination inspired: STAR WARS, AVATAR, FLASH GORDON, etc. Understandably so, as I'm much more familiar with all of them. That didn't happen. Put simply, if STAR WARS is a kids' science fiction movie franchise that adults enjoy (and it is), then JOHN CARTER is an adult science fiction movie that kids will enjoy.
CARTER is such an immersing experience. Every moment reveals something new about Mars; about the exotic alien races and cultures that call it home, or about their individual characters. James Cameron's AVATAR showed us a world we've never seen before and it was wondrous to behold, but Andrew Stanton's JOHN CARTER is a movie so rich with detail that it left me feeling like I had been somewhere. JOHN CARTER feels like nothing so much than as if David Lean had made a science fiction epic of love and war set on Mars.
This movie has a confidence to it you won't be expecting. It's unafraid to linger over the characters, and give them time to breathe and reveal themselves. My favorite decade for movies is the 1960s, and JOHN CARTER has some of the epic adventure movies of that time running through it like a seam of gold. There's a bit of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA in there as I alluded to before, and perhaps a touch of ZULU and SPARTACUS is mixed in with the Martian airships and predator cities. Old fashioned storytelling magic and 21st century movie sorcery have combined into a film that's a pulp sci-fi masterpiece.
To the ERB faithful: please relax. Yes, there are changes from the novel; no, they are not the arbitrary changes made in inferior movie adaptations where the filmmaker just wants to do his/her own ideas. Every change is made to tell Burroughs' story or reveal some aspect of Burroughs' characters in a way more befitting a movie instead of a novel.
Going into this, I had absurdly high expectations. A friend of mine told me he was worried the movie wouldn't live up to them and that frankly I was starting to sound a little crazy. Well, the movie went and exceeded my expectations. I love it, and give it a 10/10. I'm definitely going to see it at least six times in the theater, and will finally buy a Blu-Ray player just to watch it at home.
I realize this review sounds over the top. That's just how excited I am about the movie. Perhaps in a previous life I was an ancient Greek by the name of Hyperboles? Anyway, see the movie. I guarantee that even if you don't like it as much as I did, you'll see where I was coming from with this gushing review.
From George Lucas's wonderful creations to Avatar, from very original tales like The Golden Compass or Stardust to John Carter, movies that do not fit in today's bitter world are bashed endlessly, or outright bomb at the box office, as John Carter did. However, if you, like me, refuse to bow to this lack of imagination, and liked the aforementioned movies, then you'll probably fall in love with John Carter, too. It is truly amazing. As my friend put it, 'It's the best Star Wars since Avatar'.
(Note: I admit, I haven't read Edgar Rice Borroughs' Mars-series, but as far as I know, fans of the novels were pleased with the movie adaptation, as well.)
I'd had high hopes that this movie would live up to the hype surrounding it. It surpasses it, the hype doesn't even come close. From beginning to end, this movie focuses on story, and expands on a great story with stunning effects as opposed to just using great FX in place of solid storytelling.
It also has one of the strongest pieces of non-verbal storytelling outside of Up.
Do not miss this film. Do see it in the theaters. Do see it in 3D.
You will not be disappointed. I'm certainly chomping at the bit for release day so I can see it again and I'm already hoping for a sequel based on The Gods of Mars.
Don't believe the hype.. this is a must see movie!!
The visuals are stunning, Andrew Stanton really proves what he's worth. And Taylor Kitsch puts down a brilliant performance. He gives so much depth to John Carter. He has a great flair that makes young and old believe his character. It's a brilliant adaptation of the Rice Burrough's books and I can't wait to see the sequel. Critics say it's a lame story but that is absolutely wrong. It has an intriguing plot with a very interesting storyline. A visual spectacle with an amazing story behind it and some pretty awesome actors.
Thank you Disney for your bold efforts. Sales might be the standard of today, but in the hearts of John Carter fans this was a great movie. Put to the screen with taste, class, and detail that will let this story live on. May your efforts be rewarded with continued sales as this movie finds its way toward cult status.
The only reason I give not all 10 stars is because I have to confess that I found the story sometimes a little too complex and therefore hard to follow.
But this feast for the eye is by any means the money for the ticket worth. I've never seen such a spectacular movie. My dream fulfilled: A new overwhelming sf- spectacular which isn't part of the Star Wars or Star Trek franchise but opens a new rich and fantastic world and which has- in opposite to the SW prequels- a logical and intricate story.
All my hopes that it won't bomb but allow new adventures with John Carter on the Mars to be filmed.
The movie is meant to surprise you the whole time. You just wonder what'll happen along the way. You get the feeling someone is reading you a fairy tail and you don't want to go to sleep until you get the story. Agony, Frustration, Despair, brilliant soundtrack, Very nice Visual Effects part from some CGI that looked a bit fake. I recommend to watch it in HD.
Originality in story progression is one of the things I would say this movie has. And I really can't say that for many movies of 2012 or older.
Watch it with Friends, or Family. It was a very enjoyable movie.
Put aside the retentive "but the moons don't go right.." and some minor sexist attire and attitudes, it's laughable that anyone would object to whats there. It's a great film, that you can sit down and watch time and time again.
Result? I am very glad that I accidentally watched it! It's one of those films... though maybe not the best of the best of the best and it might lack some things / bells and whistles that some might want.. but it is still one of those films that come out once in a while, which one can watch over and over again..
It will almost certainly take its place in my film collection..
Disillusioned Confederate cavalry officer John Carter (Taylor Kitsch of "The Covenant") is prospecting for gold in Arizona when the U.S. Seventh Cavalry tries to recruit him to combat hostile Apaches. Carter refuses not only because this isn't his fight, but also because he has already the Civil War claimed the lives of his wife and daughter. Carter escapes from the guardhouse, purloins a horse, and absconds into wilds. Our hero doesn't get far before he finds himself caught between the Apaches and the trigger-happy cavalry. Gunfire erupts and Carter struggles to escape from the predatory redskins. Scrambling for the sanctuary of a cave that the superstitious savages refuse to enter, he surprises an ethereal alien with a supernatural medallion. Carter blasts this extraterrestrial, confiscates the pendant, and then suddenly finds himself sprawled on distant Mars. Mars resembles the rugged American southwest with its inhospitable terrain and inhabitants. He encounters tall, light-green warriors. These fellows boast an additional pair of arms, heads that resemble the Mutant Ninja Turtles, and large three-toed feet. These four-armed creatures with small tusks protruding from their jaws behave like barbarous African tribesmen and have domesticated animals to serve as their beasts of burden. When Carter isn't tangling with their garrulous giants, he contends with striking humanoid natives covered with tattoos who fly extraordinary mechanical airships which resemble Leonardo da Vinci's designs. The barbarians reside in the outlands, while the humanoids live in metropolitan cities of Helium and Zodanga.
Basically, a civil war has been raging for a thousand years between these rivals when John Carter arrives. The treacherous Sab Than (Dominic West), Jeddak of Zodanga wants to slaughter the citizens of Helium. A mysterious society of Therns, led by the villainous Matai Shang (Mark Strong), who serve the goddess Issus, intervenes and arms the Zodangans with a powerful weapon called the Ninth Ray. Helium has nothing to match this devastating blue laser technology. The Therns, however, refuse to let the Zodangans annihilate Helium. They advise Sab Than to marry the Princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), to create a stronger society. The defiant Princess flees, and Sab Than pursues her. He destroys her ship, buts she falls into John Carter's arms. On Mars, our eponymous protagonist isn't the same fellow as he was in Virginia. He can leap vast distances and packs a haymaker of a punch that drops his adversaries as if they were straw. Predictably, Carter falls in love with the princess, and she reciprocates. Stanton, "Samurai Jack" scenarist Mark Andrews, and "Spider-Man 2" scribe Michael Chabon do a fair to middling job with their adaptation. Happily, this franchise inducing nonsense isn't too Disneyesque, but they have taken considerable liberties with Burroughs' book. Anybody who has seen enough sci-fi fantasies will spot the elements that inspired those who came after Burroughs to use them in their movies. Essentially, "John Carter" constitutes a "Stranger in a Strange Land." Like the quintessential adventurer, our hero embarks on a long journey and blunders into a civil war of sorts between two antagonistic factions.
You don't need a Cliff Notes guide to distinguish the heroes from the villains on Mars. Incidentally, Mars isn't really Mars. Instead, the natives refer to it as Barsoom. One of the problems with any movie about an alien world is the environment as well as the natives. Everything might as well be happening on Earth for all of the difference that it makes. Since our hero is a foreigner on Mars, he learns rather painfully that his human powers enable him to do things in their atmosphere that he couldn't accomplish at home. The action often bogs down in complications, and it appears that some of the plot doesn't reach the screen. Further, the leads lack charisma. Taylor Kitsch supplies sufficient brawn, but he acts like a wooden Johnny Depp, while Lynn Collins looks like she has spent more time in the gym than a science laboratory. Dominic West fares best with his arrogant portrayal of an enemy bent on destruction, but you never really hate him with any passion. He is more of a pawn of the Therns. The enigmatic Therns are an irritating bunch of opportunists with a nasty habit of shape-shifting into other characters.
Altogether, despite it picturesque settings, "John Carter" emerges as a predictable yarn that delivers few revelations.
As big budget films go this one takes the cake, great story line, great action, great heart melting moments!
I heard that this got bad reviews.... well in my opinion its better than the avengers and avatar combined! 10/10 best film to fail at the box office since Fight Club!!!
Need I say more? Well I plan on watching it at least 10 more times!!!
I now plan to read all the books this was based on, as i haven't felt this excited about a film since well I don't know.
I am still in shock at how kick ass this film was... Even the ending was great.
Now what else do I need to do to get you to go see this film....?
And it's quite a good adaptation. I enjoyed seeing Burroughs' creations brought to life, and I enjoyed "John Carter" as a movie in its own right. It's not a great film... but it's just the sort of escapist adventure that Burroughs himself specialized in.
The same sort, but not the same one. The movie takes liberties with the original material... and rightly so. ERB's original story would be creaky by today's standards, so there's no use being too faithful. But some of the departures are needless and poorly chosen.
1. The first compromise is the title. "A Princess of Mars" is a great title. It tells you pretty much exactly what to expect: romance, adventure and a strange new world. "John Carter" is a lame title. It could refer to just about anything, from a hard-boiled detective story to a teen romance. It may seem like a small thing, but the title really did color audiences' reactions to the film. Yes, the original title would have seemed strange in today's culture, but that would have worked in its favor. The change of title was a weak decision, made by a committee.
2. Another compromise is the way the film starts. The whole introductory segment with the airborne battle on Mars is not only pointless, it drastically weakens the story. "John Carter" is a tale of one man, who suddenly finds himself in an unimaginably strange environment. We should have discovered that environment as Carter does, and not had a sneak-peek ahead of time. This weakens our sense of identification with Burroughs' interplanetary Odysseus, and shifts the emphasis to the story, which was never ERB's strong suit. This was another decision made by a gutless committee. Someone in a meeting said: the intro is too slow, we'll lose the audience. They were dead wrong. To make great movies you have to take chances, build at the pace dictated by the material, and trust your audience to come along.
3. The final, and most significant, compromise lay in attempting to modernize the story. I recently re-read the first several Mars books, for the first time in decades. They're surprisingly intimate, low-key affairs. There's a background of great events, but the real story takes place on a very human scale. There are conversations, confrontations. Meetings in darkened rooms. The action is there, but it's far from 'non-stop.'
What's more, one of the real charms of ERB's Barsoom is that it represents the future as seen through the naive eyes of 1912. It really makes sense only when seen in that historical context. And it then acquires an extra nostalgic dimension, giving us an insight into the mind and imagination of that far-gone era. Modernizing the story homogenizes it, and makes it seem like a me-too creation. Going for more of a retro, steampunk look would have emphasized that this is THE granddaddy of all interplanetary adventures. (A more explanatory marketing campaign would have helped too. Epic FAIL, Disney.)
Going for more of an old-fashioned feel would also have allowed the film to preserve some of ERB's marvelous literary quality. His plots may have been pure melodrama, but his language was amazingly poetic. Re-reading the Mars books, I found myself frequently pausing to marvel at a particular sentence, or a single phrase: words so perfectly chosen that they simply could not be improved upon. Some of that should have made it's way into the dialog of "John Carter." There's a marvelous exchange between Errol Flynn and an English judge at the beginning of the movie "Captain Blood." It sets up the sense of romance for the rest of the film. I'd have liked the air battle of "John Carter" to have been replaced with something like that.
Fortunately, the film does capture many other elements of ERB's vision. The green Tharks, for one. They simply could not be better... they're absolutely true to the weird descriptions in the books, yet manage to rise above their CG limitations and live as characters.
I also adored the choice of Lynn Collins to play Dejah Thoris. (Though, of course, she should have been wearing full red-skin makeup.) She's not exactly a powerhouse in the acting department, but she's got the perfect look; she's exactly the Princess of Mars that I wanted to see. I'd have loved to see her grow into the part through a long course of sequels...
All in all, despite its limitations, "John Carter" is a fine adventure film, that does manage to convey at least some of the magic of Edgar Rice Burroughs' writing. It does require a stronger-than-usual suspension of disbelief, but I'd recommend it highly to fans of classic swashbucklers.