John Carter: Chan’s Review

The Disney-produced John Carter, based on “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs written in 1917 (yowza), did not fare as well as expected in the box office this weekend ($30.6 mil domestically on a $250 mil budget) and seems to be getting mediocre (at best) reviews from a lot of other places, but I have to personally say this was a very enjoyable, solid film.  Definitely of more quality than a lot of what has been coming out of Hollywood.

John Carter is a Civil War hero that has his own agenda of self-fulfillment… monetarily.  He cares not about either side of the war anymore, and certainly puts on a front of dismissal for anyone crossing his path.  While on the hunt for his cave of gold, he stumbles across a man in strange clothes that he shoots before he stabs him with a dagger.  The man is holding an amulet, mumbling something which John Carter repeats, instantly whisking him away to another place he later discovers is Mars.

As I described to our friends last night, John Carter feels like Star Wars and Avatar had a baby, but it feels like so much more than that once I really started to reflect on it.  The world itself was well-crafted and while some of the actors left a bit to be desired (was not a fan of Lynn Collins/Dejah), you still felt the relationships grow and develop in the short time frame of events.  Well, mostly.  I have a personal qualm about rushed romance but hey, back in the late 1800’s it was do or die (literally, at ~30) so maybe that was much more socially acceptable when the book was first written.

The world is so big and expanse that I feel parts were rushed and chopped together, but I can’t entirely blame that on anyone.  There are simply time constraints that must be adhered to, especially because this is a Disney film and younger audiences tend to have a shorter attention span.  Hah.  I like the design and the overall feel of the aliens but they were just slightly too cliché with the barbaric society and one-mindedness throughout the film.  With the world brimming with technology, it just seems they might have inherited or developed a bit more than loincloths and branding people for offenses.  While a sequel may or may not be written in the stars due to the initial opening weekend figures, the world alone inspires me to pick up this book and give it a read just to see what I was (or perhaps wasn’t) missing.

Overall, solid storyline even if rushed at some parts.  John Carter as a character is pretty a-typical (tragedy, bravery, war hero, etc.) but fits in well enough with the scenario of the movie.  Mars (Barsoom) is a great setting and the special effects are well placed without being too cheesy or too overbearing.  Plus they call him Virginia for, like, the first half of the movie – a nice bit of comedy with his expressions alone come from that.  Kudos to his actor.  Truthfully, I feel this is a solid 7.5 but since I don’t want to get into halving points I am forced to give this a 7 because I just can’t quite justify an 8 due to how choppy this film was, whether it was its own fault or not.

Oh, and can I totally say I want her wedding dress?  Um, yeah.  I do. /end girly moment to go to the gym

Chan’s Rating: 7 out of 10




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  1. #1 by micahblackburn on March 25, 2012 - 2:08 pm

    I really enjoyed the movie. I know it got bad reviews, but I was very pleased with how well it was done. I read A Princess of Mars a few months before as I felt I needed to up my nerd cred. I was familiar with the basic premise from a (DC I think?) comic adaptation from way back, but was surprised at how well they did translating the story to the big screen.

    John Carter is quite different in the movie though. In the book, he has no tragic past and his world hopping is even more mysterious (as is his nature, but I won’t say any more on that). He basically falls in love with the Princess on first sight…there was an even shorter courtship! The Tharks get a much deeper culture, but it equates to what you see in the movie.

    Anyway, enough spoilers. It’s a good book (and I understand they take the movie from the first three books, but I’ve not read the other two).

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