Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Friday, March 9, 2012

John Carter 3D

Reluctant Champion

Rated: PG-13 Intense sequences of action and violence.
Release Date: March 9, 2012
Runtime: 2 hr 12 mins

Director:  Andrew Stanton
Writers: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon, novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Cast:  Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Bryan Cranstan

SYNOPSIS: Former Civil War Confederate cavalry captain John Carter looks to escape his past by looking for gold in the Arizona desert. While on the run from Union forces and Apache Indians, he finds himself transported to the planet of Mars in the middle of a 1,000 year civil war between warring Martian factions.

REVIEW: Andrew Stanton, writer and director of such animated CG classics as Finding Nemo and Wall•E, takes another Disney property to the big screen. This time, Stanton combines CGI and live action, adapting a script he wrote with Mark Andrew (Star Wars: Clone Wars) and Michael Chabon (Spider-Man 2) from characters developed by Tarzan writer Edgar Rice Burroughs from the first entry of his science fiction/fantasy/western Barsoom series, 'The Princess of Mars', released in 1917. 
Confederate cavalry Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) looks to escape the dogs of war and the demons of his past by looking for his fortune in the Arizona desert. Mysteriously transported to the planet Barsoom, Carter finds himself with super strength and great leaping ability on the red planet. Confronted by twelve foot tall green alien creatures with four arms, Carter questions his locale and sanity. Carter is taken prisoner by the Green Martian chief Tars Tarkas (voiced by Willem Dafoe, Daybreakers). Red Martian leader Sab Than (Dominic West, Punisher: War Zone), selected by the mysterious manipulator Matai Shang (Mark Strong, Green Lantern) to wield a powerful blue energy, uses that energy to devastate all of his enemies in an attempt to lay claim over all of Barsoom. In order to stave off his city's defeat at the hands of Than, Helium city Terrek Tardos Mors (Ciaran Hinds, The Debt) is given an ultimatum of either the destruction of Helium or giving up his daughter's Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins, X-Men Origins: Wolverine) hand in marriage. Dejah runs away and is pursued by Than's and his forces. Carter witnesses this battle between the two warring factions of the human-like Red Martians, and saves Dejah. Both Tars Tarkas and Dejah see Carter as a warrior and possible savior. John Carter must now make a decision whether to get involved as a champion for one of their causes, or stand aside while additional blood is shed.

John Carter, based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs novel 'The Princess of Mars', has something for every taste and every age. Taking place in the years after the American Civil War, the start of the film is a period piece and a western. With a powerful transportation device between the planets, futuristic solar powered winged airships, and swordplay, kids and adults alike are treated to a balanced mix of science fiction and fantasy. With four-armed green aliens, knuckle dragging tusked furry white apes, and an over sized blob of a creature with the speed of a mouse named Gonzalez and the demeanor of man's best friend, John Carter has creatures and monsters galore. The film is a tale of romance, a story of heroics and political intrigue, and even a superhero origin story. With plenty of laughs and action, mixed in with a couple moments of sadness, John Carter fits the bill as the perfect popcorn movie.

Some of the surnames, locations, and tribe names are difficult to follow at first if you are not familiar with the novels or graphic adaptations. The most ordinary name in the film, although still extraordinary, is the character John Carter. From Matai Shang to Sarkoja to Tal Hajus, the JCM universe is filled with strange characters and affiliations. Many in the audience may sympathize with John Carter, he having difficulties acclimating to the lower gravity of the red planet and us having trouble understanding the names been spoken. Thank Issis for subtitles!

Taylor Kitsch channels some of his Gambit style to the role of John Carter, changing his Cajun drawl to a 19th Century post-war Virginia accent. Enjoying him in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I still had some small doubts as to whether he could carry a full film with the scope that is involved with Borroughs’ work. Those doubts were quickly quelled as he proves capable and likable – even as a man who just wanted to left alone. Lynn Collins’ Dejah Thoris is both an elegant, smart and physically imposing character. Her character looks comfortable wielding a sword as she is trying to run experiments to harness the elusive powerful blue light. At the very least, both Kitsch and Collins offer plenty of skin and muscles to oogle at. Dominic West’s Sab Than is a warrior bent on dominating the planet through semi-extermination, but is still merely a brute and a puppet to Mark Strong’s even-toned and ulterior-motived Issis harbinger Matai Shang. Ciaran Hinds, who plays Dejah’s father Tardos Mors, doesn’t have much screen time, but carries his scenes with an experienced weight that comes with such a resume of strong performances.

John Carter is a fun popcorn-munching, epic ride that begs the question, “What came first?”. We see many of the sequences in John Carter that we have experienced in various Star Wars films. From gladiatorial battles against native beasts, to floating airships, to air cycle chases, it’s all been done before. But since Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote his works at the dawn of the 20th Century, I am going to give him, and John Carter, points for the tale’s interplanetary epic look, feel, and story.

WORTH: Matinee and DVD


  1. Good review. Kitsch could have definitely been a little bit more charismatic but the flick still works due to amazing special effects and some really fun and exciting action. Sad thing is that this flick was made for $250 million and won’t make any of it back. Check out mine when you can.

    1. Still trying to figure out where all the money went!