John Carter Movie Review

John Carter has finally reached the multiplex theaters of the world to the resounding boos of the critics and, hopefully, the ka-ching of the box office cash registers. As I write this, on Sunday afternoon of the opening weekend, the IMDB site is reporting receipts of $30.6 million U.S., $101.2 million world-wide balanced against a reported cost of more than $300 million including marketing costs. (The director, Andrew Stanton, has been stating in interviews that it cost $150 million to make as opposed to the $250 million figure.) So much for the “business” facts, or rumors. I’ve been waiting (not really anxiously, because I do not believe that a book being made into a movie is the best fate for said work) to see what a film version of “A Princess of Mars” would be like for 49 years.

In 1963 I bought the first of the Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs as a Ballantine paperback. This was my first look at John Carter and Dejah Thoris by Robert Abbett.

Since then I’ve been buying the series again whenever a new cover artist was assigned so I’ve seen many different interpretations of the characters and the equipment of Barsoom (the inhabitants name for their planet).

One of my main concerns with this film was would I like their designs – and I did. Most important are the Green martians, the Tharks and Warhoons (tribes of Green Martians). Their choice was to go tall and lean which reflects, but doesn’t copy Michael Whelan’s visualizations, one of the best of all the Mars cover artists.
The Red Martians are described in the books as having red skin like that of Native Americans. The film has their skins as suntan red with henna tattoos which works okay considering the current fad for tattoos.

The writers, Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon, have pulled apart the first three books in the Mars series and refitted pieces into one film which worked for me. I know that there have to be changes made from page to film and all I ask of movie makers is to accurately reflect the source material. I don’t demand that everything be the same in both; it can’t and work as a film as it did as a book. Especially a book that was written in 1911!
Taylor Kitsch does a good job as John Carter, giving a convincing portrayal of a Victorian era Southern gentleman without turning it into a caricature. Lynn Colliins is a beautiful Dejah Thoris that has been given much more to do in the film than simply be a Princess to be rescued as she was in the novels.

The Earthly sequences that lead up to Carter’s transposition to Mars has been retooled and expanded from the book. There are recurring flashback scenes to Carter’s lost family on Earth that are new elements that I found a little odd as I saw them as unnecessary but my wife saw a rationale for them.

My wife and I really enjoyed the film and when it’s released on DVD I will buy it. We had to see it in 3D which I try my best to avoid but no theater in this area was showing a 2D print. I found the 3D to be a distraction in the beginning and after I got used to it I didn’t think it added anything to my enjoyment. I hope it stays in the theaters long enough to make enough cash to justify another installment.

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One Response to “John Carter Movie Review”

  1. hoosierdisneyguy Says:

    I actually saw it yesterday and did a review of it on my blog, while I felt it was difficult to follow in spots, I thought overall it was a good movie. I like your blog.

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