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Disney's 'John Carter' movie review, trailer: Why all the complaints?

johncarter031112_optBY MIRIAM RINN
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
MOVIE REVIEW

Edgar Rice Burroughs’ serialized adventures featuring former Confederate Captain John Carter were originally published 100 years ago in a pulp magazine called “The All-Story,” and now we have a 3-D Disney extravaganza that cost a zillion dollars, directed by Andrew Stanton of Pixar renown as his first live-action feature.

There is reason for the elitist movie fan to beware, not to mention all the carping that’s flooding fan sites. And yet, it seems you can’t keep a good story down. “John Carter” zooms forward, fueled by a highly professional, mostly British cast with a few solid American character actors, imaginative and comprehensible action sequences, a really attractive leading man, and a whole lot of imagination. The plot doesn’t always make sense, the characters are types, the little dialogue is mostly forgettable, but an exuberant gee-whiz spirit keeps the whole thing going and takes the viewer along for the ride. I liked it.

Stanton and his fellow screenwriters Mark Andrews and the novelist Michael Chabon have cleverly framed the story through Carter’s nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs reading his deceased uncle’s journal. A grand adventurer, Carter describes his experiences on Barsoom (that’s what they call Mars up there) in his diary, the volume that he‘s left to his heir. His youthful nephew, an appealingly dorky and wide-eyed Daryl Sabara, makes total sense as the future writer of imaginative fiction and perhaps as a meta-commentary on the whole creative enterprise.

Several scenes set on Earth establish Carter as an honor-loving skilled swordsman and horseman, so when we see him jump on an eight-legged creature and stir it to a furious gallop or massacre twenty Barsoonian soldiers single handed, we’re with him. Filmed in London and Utah, the visual contrast between a gloomy nineteenth-century Earth and the alien Barsoom, which seems to be mostly desert, is striking too. The movie looks great, from the wind-swept landscapes to the dragonfly delicacy of the flying machines. The reddish humanoid Barsoonians have the same fashion sense as comic-book ancient Romans--lots of drapery with plenty of skin showing. And that skin is covered with gorgeous tattooing. The primitive 12-foot Tharks with their double arms just have green hide and some junky Indian-style jewelry, but great tusks that jut out beneath their ears.



 
Comments (6)
6 Wednesday, 14 March 2012 18:20
Jasoom
I grew up with the John Carter books over 55 years ago and attribute them to my life long love of reading. As such they will always have a special place in my heart. I enjoyed the movie. Unfortunately I'm afraid that todays movie going public may have a difficult time suspending belief in an inhabited "Mars" However keep in mind that when the books were written it was much more widely believed that Mars could well be inhabited. Even 50 years ago when I read the books, it was not definatively understood just what Mars contained as it is today as a result of all of the exploration that has taken place.

Burroughs was indeed the orginator of many of the science fiction concepts we have come to know through Star Wars, Avatar, and many others. He was way ahead of his time and generally does not get the credit he deserves. The books and movie are great fun !
5 Monday, 12 March 2012 12:34
Vad Varo
I read these books ages ago. I think the movie did a great job of conveying the "flavor" of Barsoom and the series without compromising the story line. It set up a sequel nicely and was all in all a good fun day for my friends and I.
4 Monday, 12 March 2012 09:03
Tony S
Saw This in Imax 3D, It was fantastic. It was a cross betwween Avatar and Lord of The Rings. My wife and 3 kids reallly enjoyed it. the story moved at a fast pace and the story and plotline worked well. The story was mostly based on the 1st book "A princess of Mars" with some elements of the 2nd book "The Gods of Mars" thrown in. If you read the books by ERB and are expecting to see a chapter by chapter remake, then you might be disapointed. As a fantasy sci fi adventure film it stands up with some of the best. Great special effects gorgeous costumes and sets, it is terrifically entertaining and well worth seeing.
3 Monday, 12 March 2012 03:42
benny
loved it,loved it,just a great adventure movie with lots of heart,got my fingers crossed for a sequel,i wanna go back to barsoom!!!!
2 Sunday, 11 March 2012 18:51
Paki Kini
This was a wonderful movie. Even my husband had no complaints and he usually has a few of every movie. Great storyline and awsome special effects. I just read the book it was based on and was impressed about how close they were able to keep it concidering everything going on in the book.
1 Sunday, 11 March 2012 13:04
B Smithy
This was a great film; I wish it were longer!

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