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Review: John Carter

Updated on March 11, 2012

Disney sure knows how to make some beautiful movies, and now with John Carter they know how to make a great movie. John Carter is a book to film adaptation on one of the greatest stories that helped pave the way for movies like Star Wars and Avatar. The people without the knowledge of the book series, will likely say this film is a rip off of Star Wars and other stories of the like. Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the five book series before any such movies came out and the books came out in the 1920's. Despite this film's familiar tone it still sticks out as one of the best of it's kind in a very long time. While it has everything you would come to expect, such as the rebellious princess and the reluctant hero, it still manages to allow the viewers to really buy into the characters which is a tribute to the actors, the director and the screenwriter.

The plot follows a Civil War veteran by the name of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) as he is trying to get to a cave of immeasurable wealth. In the process he is jailed, beaten by a man by the name of Powell (Bryan Cranston). Due to Carter's rebellious attitude, he inevitably escapes and is chased by Powell and his men only to be cut off by Apaches. He and his captor take refuge in a cave that Carter calls the spider cave where his gold is located. The Apaches that have been giving him chase back off when they see the markings on the cave. Carter walks inside the cave and a mysterious man appears before him and attacks him. Carter than retaliates by shooting him in the chest. The mysterious man begins to speak an unearthly language and continues to say "Barsoom", Carter then grabs the medallion the man holds and says "Barsoom" only to find himself in a much different landscape. When he reaches this new land, he also realizes that the gravity is different and it takes him awhile to get accustomed to it. With a single jump he is able to leap far distances. To his shock, he finds that this place is home to other species such as big giant green men called the Tharks. The Tharks are a nomadic tribe that consists largely of savages minus their leader Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe). Tars Tarkas takes Carter in as a slave, but knows that there is something special about the young man.

Among the Thark clan, Carter has a hard time understanding the group until one peasant woman gives him a drink that allows him to "hear the voice of Barsoom." After waking up the next day he suddenly is able to understand the Tharks. Over head comes in the flying people, or as the Tharks call them "The Red Ones". Tars Tarkas explains to Carter that instead of intervening on the fight between the Red martians and their enemy the Zodanga, they would rather watch them kill each other. Carter sees the Red martians princess falling from a ship and sees her human appearance. He takes it upon himself to intervene and save the damsel in distress. He fights off the guards while keeping her behind him, but it quickly surprised at how well she can handle herself. By himself, Carter then begins to jump back and forth between the Zodanga ships destroying them. This in fact, puts Carter in the favor of the Tharks as they nickname him "Dotar Zojak" and the woman he had just saved, Dejah Thoris. Dejah begins to plead with Carter to help her fight Zodanga, as by doing so would not only help her city of Helium, but also all of Barsoom. Of course, Carter is reluctant as he would much rather high tail it back home any way possible but he quickly begins to fall in love with Dejah and feels obligated to help Dejah and the people of Barsoom.

4.5 stars out of 5
4.5 stars out of 5

Obviously the movie's special effects are breath-taking, but the real surprise is the two lead actors. Lynn Collins and Taylor Kitsch up to this point have been relatively unknown talented actors, and this film most likely will be the start of something special for their careers. It is no surprise that Kitsch will be seen in two blockbuster films this summer (albeit Battleship looks terrible, but still). Following the movie, I also heard rumblings of a Wonder Woman project featuring Lynn Collins in the lead role which does not surprise me. Collins in fact performed most of her characters stunts in the film as she has a martial arts background, and Kitsch did the same to make the film seem as real as possible. All of that aside however the film had a real heart to it. It had a few scenes that will really stick with me for sometime, one in particular is when Carter decides to stay and fight against a seemingly endless horde of martians cut in with memories of his brutal past lover. It is a really well done scene that director Andrew Stanton and Taylor Kitsch deserve praise for. All in all, I understand this film isn't getting kind reviews from the public and I was very disturbed by the fact that when I saw it there were only four people in the theater. This film is better than that, hell it is better then a lot of films that I have seen in a long time.


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    • Nickalooch profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      I loved the movie, and I read the first book. Burroughs was ahead of his time with his vision but there were some holes in his story telling. Either way im glad my review encouraged you to watch and read the great story.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I stopped reading the review after a couple of lines because I was unsure if there would be spoilers or not, and now I want to see it. The trailer put me off to the movie because it said "before avatar and star wars there was John carter," but I had no idea it was a book series that they were referring to- I thought it was a coat-tail riding tactic. Now I want to read the books.

    • gabrielthomas72 profile image


      6 years ago from Shrewsbury, England

      I have to admit I enjoyed the film, but was disappointed about the scale of change that Stanton felt was necessary to bring it to the big screen. Visually the film delivers stunning fights, spectacular landscapes and fantastic new beings, but again even with these so much has been altered which didn't need to be. It's also a shame now that everything has to be in 3D, as I mentioned in my review I'm going to have a look at the 2D version and expect there to be no difference. Apart from you're not watching in sunglasses!

    • Nickalooch profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      I think more than like it will accrue a cult following if you will. It pained me to see how no one was seeing it this past weekend. I couldn't believe how me and a friend were half the people in the theater. As I write this, I am in the process of ordering the books solely for the purpose of finding out what happens next because I am so sure there will not be any sequels. I feel bad for everyone involved because it does not deserve the negative reviews at all. I don't get why having an inflated budget suddenly makes a movie so bad in the eyes of "critics".

    • rjbatty profile image


      6 years ago from Irvine

      It seems as if the critics (many of them) are driving the derogatory comments about this film. They are calling it a "bomb" because it was so expensive to produce.

      All that fans of the John Carter series can do is provide backlash and enthusiastic praise. Since so much science fiction is derived from the John Carter books, the ignorant will (as you suggested) see the story as a boring rehash of material we've seen from "older" films. I didn't get around to John Carter's books or Tarzan until I was in my 40's,

      I was engrossed/amazed. I look forward to seeing the movie ... and possibly any sequels, although it's hard to imagine at this point. My hope is word of mouth alone will salvage the film from becoming a mere subject of ridicule from the Hollywood sharks.

    • Nickalooch profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Columbia, MD

      I'm glad you liked it. It really disappointed me how no one was in the theater when I saw it.

    • John Sarkis profile image

      John Sarkis 

      6 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

      Thanks for the review. I'm looking forward seeing the movie.

      Voted useful



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