Okay. Admittedly, I was skeptical about this movie. Mostly because of the descriptive blurb and, because it just didn’t seem like my cup of tea. “World weary soldier……” blargh. Another modern-day Hollywood tribute to the Afghanistan soldiers (not that there’s anything wrong with that, but the premise does get old after a while.)
Disney does fiction, not science fiction. Did anyone else see the travesty that was the TRON remake? Or TRON for that matter. Despite its success with TARZAN ages ago, I had my doubts about another Edgar Rice Burroughs adaption, especially something about a guy travelling (somehow) to Mars (which is about all I knew of the contents of the book.) And, according to my sister; that was the only thing I needed to know about the book, horrible thing that it is.
Do yourself a favour and go see this movie.
Just do it. Forget about the kitsch, forget about plausibility, forget about the Disney formula (which stares you in the face from the get go), go see the movie and get lost in it. It’s definitely worth your time and money.
The year is 1881 and Captain Carter is sending a telegram to his beloved nephew Edgar “Ned” Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara), telling him to come to his stately home immediately. Following Captain Carter is a rather incogrous bowler-capped man that looks like he’s on a mission, so much so that it hurts. Poor Ned comes to the manor to find that his uncle is dead, leaving him his vast fortune and a diary he pleads with the boy to read.This is the story of John Carter’s extraordinary journey to the planet Mars, or Barsoom as it’s known to the locals.
19th Virginia Calvary Captain John Carter (played by the not-so-dramatic Taylor Kitsch) is a world weary soldier lost in our world. He’s no stranger to fights. He doesn’t shy away from them, in fact, he revels in the opportunity to shed a little blood for reasons that don’t become apparent until near the very end of the movie. The Han-Solo-esque anti-hero is suffering from some wound he’s reluctant to speak of. Rather, he seems perfectly happy to beat the shit out of something-just not to commit to a cause of any kind. This proves a problem as both the Tharks (the 12 foot tall four armed primitive martian race) and Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) of Helium, locked in a cataclysmic battle with the evil Sab Than (Dominic West) of the Zodanga Empire. Behind the scenes are the mysterious Therns (their leader Mai Shatang wonderfully played by the deliciously evil Mark Strong) and their manipulation of the end of Barsoom as its people know it.
What follows is a rollicking ride through a Martian world so detailed it’s actually quite believable, right down to the river cutting through the landscape. The Tharks are richly rendered without falling into the realm of creepy, as are the various machines making up the bulk of the computer generated pieces. In a surprising twist I haven’t seen before in its live-action pieces, Disney went for sub-plots. They could have used some fleshing out, but the overall effect was pleasant, it brought a roundness to the movie that was satisfying-making up for the “ugh” love story factor.
A strong supporting cast (to include Willem Dafoehelps keep the pacing of the movie despite lags while Disney inserts its “sweeping” love story between our hero and his princess. As it’s in the book I can forgive. Even still, Disney needs to be a bit more subtle about these things, I think.
Other than some lackluster acting from John himself, a predicatble love story, and a flying machine I’m pretty sure Disney had to pay big money to rip off from George Lucas, John Carter of Mars was worth it. Unlike Disney’s attempt with Prince of Persia; John Carter brought an element of fun sorely lacking in its time travelling predecessor. It says something about a movie when it makes you want to pick up the book.