Title: John Carter
Director: Andrew Stanton
Runtime: 132 min
Genre: Science Fiction
Release Date: March 9, 2012 (US & Canada)
Production Co: Walt Disney Pictures
John Carter (2012), based on the Barsoom series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, is a planetary romance mixed with some historical fiction. It’s really quite awesome as it takes place during the American Civil War, following a southern cavalryman named John Carter on the hunt for his big break – gold. After a run in with a group of Apache men, he escapes into a cave with mysterious markings. Somehow, with the help of a medallion, he is transported to another world. The natives call it Barsoom but we know it as Mars. While trying to find out where exactly he is and how to get back home, he runs into a woman named Dejah who is trying to save her people in a one-sided war. Carter, being the southern gentleman that he is, agrees to help her.
I have never read Burroughs’ series, although I have heard of him through his famous Tarzan novels. I was skeptical going into this because the idea of a science fiction novel written in the early 1900s being adapted to film in our time seemed like a daunting task. Fortunately, my fears were scrapped just within the first 30 minutes of the film. Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), is highly likeable and I became immediately connected to him. As soon as he arrives on Mars he is confronted by Tharks, a native species. He is cordial yet doesn’t bother trying to hide that he’s not to be messed with. His goal is to get off this planet and go home to his gold. However, this doesn’t mean he treats the Tharks without respect or compassion. In particular, the bond his forms with the Thark Sola becomes one of my favorites of the movie.
The other main character, Dejah Thoris, played Lynn Collins (X-Men Origins: Wolverine), appears as a damsel in distress but as Carter soon finds out, can handle herself. Despite the bikini armor she tends to wear, she’s an accomplished scientist and fighter. Of course they develop a romance, which I thought felt rushed and borderline insta-love, they made a great team. I particularly enjoyed the scenes where Dejah explained life of Mars and what the culture is like there.
The only real issues I had with the movie were the insta-romance and the extremely rushed ending. I felt like the ending was sped through to provide some sort of closure, otherwise it would have been a major cliffhanger. I understand this, but they should have dedicated a little more time to the big reveal and conclusion.
Overall, I loved John Carter. I saw it in 3D and while I’m not a huge fan of 3D, I thought the quality was good. I also loved the special effects and the design of Barsoom. It’s a perfect action, science fiction movie that I encourage anyone to check out.
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