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John Carter of Mars Film Review

Updated on March 15, 2012

Directed by Andrews Stanton

Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon. Novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Starring Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe and Mark Strong

Cert 12A

Released 2012


American Civil War hero, Captain John Carter, is hunted down by the army after he has decided to follow his own path away from war. After successfully evading them and a set of Apache Indians he takes refuge in a cave. In the cave he finds some strange markings and a vein of Gold. But this cave holds more than meets the eye, and after killing a strange man he is mysteriously transported to the planet Mars, or as the locals know it, Barsoom. Here he becomes unwittingly involved in their civil war and becomes infatuated with a beautiful Princess.


The American Civil War has ended and a young Edgar Rice Burroughs alights from a train to meet the attorney of his eccentric and favourite Uncle, Captain John Carter. When the wide eyed Edgar arrives at the impressive home of his Uncle, he is met by Carter's attorney who informs him that he unfortunately has bad news. His Uncle has recently died, unexpectedly, and that Edgar is the sole heir to his Uncle's fortune and property. after informing Edgar of this, he then presents him with a journal, that has been kept for his eyes only, Edgar then begins to read the unbelievable story that John Carter has left for him.

We are transported back to 1886, a war weary Captain John Carter has decided to find his own fortune and become a prospector. The Army has different ideas, and have tracked him down to once again fight for them. Carter is detained, but soon escapes, and is followed by a General Powell. When Powell catches up with Carter they are confronted by Apache Indians, a fire fight ensues, with Carter and Powell eventually escaping and hiding out in a cave. Once in the cave, Carter finds a rich vein of Gold, and believes he has found his fortune. But the cave is also adorned with strange markings on the walls, the likes of which Carter has never seen before. Out of nowhere, a man dressed in strange clothes appears out of thin air, Carter is startled and instinctively fires at the man. As the man lies dying he utters some strange words and a medallion he is carrying glows and then fills the cave with a piercing blue light.

When Carter awakes, he is in the middle of a barren desert. As he begins to get up, he is unable to walk properly, instead of normal steps, each time he takes a stride he is launched from the ground and lands some 20 feet from where he started. As he begins to get used to his new found ability, he is able to leap further and further, clearing vast distances. He comes upon what looks like a man made object, a glass cover of what could be a room. It contains large eggs, they begin to hatch. Out of the eggs come strange looking green beings, screaming and what looks like 6 limbs. As Carter looks on amazed he his confronted by what could be the adult form of these creatures. They are very tall, with 2 legs and 4 arms, huge tusks that protrude from the sides of their heads, and armed with many weapons. One of the Green Martians approaches Carter, and after a quick stand off, and a display of Carter's jumping skills, Carter is captured and returned to the Martians home.

From here on in, John Carter becomes a central figure in the Civil War that is raging on Barsoom (Mars). All communities are at war against each other for what little resources the planet has, and allegiances even between common partners are strained.

Carter meets Dejah Thoris, a beautiful Princess who belongs to the Red Martian society. Thoris believes she has a way of uniting the warring factions, but there are those who would conspire against her to ensure that a unified planet does not become a reality.

My View

OK, if you've read my Hub you'll know my dilemma here. I'd heard a lot about Edgar Rice Burroughs' books and I purchased, A Princess of Mars and finished reading it a couple of days ago. I found the book, pretty good, but have to say even for a Sci Fi adventure, where it's cool to let the story run riot every now and again, there where sections that where just OTT! Saying that, I enjoyed it and will be getting the rest of the books to compare and see if the writing develops in any way, or stays with the madcap and fantastic!

Right, back to the film of the book! It's a Disney 3D spectacular, so the monsters, the landscapes, the people and the transportation all look amazing. My disdain for most things 3D, unless it's animation, isn't overturned here, and I'll probably have a look at the 2D version and compare sometime, I don't think it will diminish the experience at all. If you have read the book, please leave all knowledge at the entrance to screen! As a stand alone film it's an enjoyable watch, but it doesn't have the depth or intelligence that I was hoping for. The story is diluted to such an extent that it is just basically a Martian 'shoot em up'. The 2 and half hours that the film lasts did go by quite quickly, I think I was waiting for particular things to happen, and they didn't!

I'm sure it will make a bundle and with 11 books in the original series there is obviously plenty of scope for a sequel. And plenty of scope to get it better next time?




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    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 5 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      Cheers Stevenix. It's a shame JC hasn't done so well in the US, prob means we won't see another.

    • Stevennix2001 profile image

      Steven Escareno 5 years ago

      pretty interesting review. :)

    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 6 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      @ Anne Petit, thanks for the comment! I'm sure your son will love it. Space, aliens, battles, it's got everything for boys! Don't know how old he is but get him reading the books, they're fantastic!

      @ Robwrite, I've heard that. We haven't got The Lorax until end of July! Loved Horton, so if it's up to that standard I'm sure it will go well over here. Cheers for the comment.

    • Robwrite profile image

      Rob 6 years ago from Bay Ridge Brooklyn NY

      This film didn't do nearly as well in the US box office as expected. I think its doing better in Europe. "The Lorax" steamrolled over it here.


    • Anne Pettit profile image

      Anne Pettit 6 years ago from North Carolina

      This was helpful. I would not have considered taking my son and daughter to this movie without your review. It wasn't about censorship, I just didn't want to pay for a movie I didn't want to see.

    • gabrielthomas72 profile image

      gabrielthomas72 6 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      Same prob with 'The Dark' here! Makes it really difficult for me to write notes! Cheers for the comment. I'm going to read the rest of the books, but as I've alluded to, Mr Stanton and his team have taken a few artistic liberties!

    • Steve Lensman profile image

      Steve Lensman 6 years ago from London, England

      I'm planning to see JC in the next few days, probably in 2D. When I saw Immortals in 3D it was so dark it was like I was wearing sunglasses. I read Burroughs novel decades ago and some of the other Carter on Mars books. Thanks for the review!

      Voted Up.