Based loosely on A Princess of Mars, John Carter is Disney’s realization of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic story of a Civil War veteran who is miraculously transported to Mars. The titular character (played by Taylor Kitsch) finds himself enslaved by the native non-human barbarians. Once free of the barbarians, John Carter becomes embroiled an a conflict between two humanoid factions waging war on each other. He falls for Deja Thoris (played by Lynn Collins), the princess of the good faction. Carter must help her overcome the evil faction, whose leader is in league with beings who have tremendous, god-like powers.
The movie flopped at the box office. Which is sad because it is an enjoyable fantasy film. This film was meant to be seen on the big screen. I did manage to see this in the theater, and I am glad I did. But don’t let this dissuade you from watching this on a small screen, it is still well worth seeking out this film to view.
Disney spent a lot of money on this movie and it shows. The visuals are stunning and the Martian environment is fully realized; the wide wide open vistas of the Martian landscape look convincing. The red cast of the scenes set on Mars lets us know that we are indeed on the red planet. There is a enormous Martian celestial temple at the end of a tributary. Deja Thoris’ palace is large, yet elegant, befitting her royal status. The costumes are beautiful and the weapons (swords and long rifles), Martian air ships and sets looked convincing. There is a lot of action: airship battles, swordplay (Martian blood is blue), ground battles and arena combat. Even so, the film is not overly violent and is suitable for the whole family. There is even a wacky sidekick that kids will love; it is a Disney movie after all.
To be fair, the movie does not follow Burroughs’ book closely. The movie itself feels very long and erratically paced in spots. Still, I found the film very enjoyable and is great escapist fantasy fare. The strengths of the film greatly outweigh its minor flaws.
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Worth a look for fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs or those who like action/adventure fantasy in general.
Skip it if swords & sandals on Mars is not your thing.
MDE’s Self Appointed Movie Critic