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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

SPRING BREAK MOVIE REVIEW: JOHN CARTER


Very few science-fiction stories have achieved a long-lasting impression in the minds of fans and readers over the last century. As the sci-fi era began in the late 19th century with writers like Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, it wasn't until the 20th century that sci-fi became a popular genre. While more modern incarnations of sci-fi dominate popular culture with successful franchises such as Star Wars, Star Trek and the like, there are few who know or even remember what classic sci-fi truly is. John Carter IS Classic Science-Fiction! Based on the pulp novels from 100 years ago by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the story of John Carter follows a Civil War-era rebel who is transported to Mars and helps to defeat a tyrannical empire.On Earth, Capt. John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a deserter, an outlaw and a rebel. While trying to escape the American Civil War he heads out west in search of gold, but what he finds will change his life forever. After escaping both the U.S. Cavalry and a hostile band of Apaches, he finds a mysterious cave where through alien technology, is transported to the planet Mars (a.k.a. Barsoom)! He soon discovers that while on Mars, he has the capability to leap long distances as well as possesses enhanced strength. He is then captured by the Tharks; a race of giant, green, four-armed Martians, led by Tars Tarkis (Willem Dafoe) and finds himself in the middle of an epic war between two competing empires: Helium, ruled by Tardos Mors (Ciarán Hinds) and Zodanga, ruled by Sab Than (Dominic West). Supposedly, the only way to achieve piece between the two cities is if the strong and beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) marries Sab Than, but the manipulative Matai Shang (Mark Strong) of the powerful and ancient race known as the Therns, have other plans! John soon sets out with Princess Dejah, a misfit Thark female named Sola (Samantha Morris) and his faithful (but slobbery) companion Woola, to return the Princess to her kingdom in the hopes of bringing peace to all Barsoom!
Walt Disney Films, better known for their family-oriented animated features, has recently reinvigorated their more action-adventure movies with the Pirates of the Caribbean movies and the Marvel superheroes movies such as the upcoming Avengers movie. Now, as they broaden their horizons into the sci-fi realm they delve into a riskier venture with more obscure literary properties. While Disney has already had experience with fantasy literature adaptations with the first two Narnia movies (although the third movie was produced by Fox) Disney has never fully embraced hard sci-fi, but it is not the first time they have tackled the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, better known as the author of the Tarzan series, Disney produced the highly-popular animated musical Tarzan in 1999. John Carter of Mars first appeared in 1912, created by Edgar Rice Burroughs (1875-1950). The first novel "A Princess of Mars" was originally called "Under the Moons of Mars" and written under his pseudonym: Norman Bean. Since then the adventures of John Carter has been told in many novels, comic books, TV shows and films.
John Carter is an exciting, fast paced, action-packed, sci-fi masterpiece that remains true to the original story and characters. Although somewhat a sleeper hit at the box office, it will no doubt succeed and enable Disney to produce adaptations of the next few books as a trilogy including "The Gods of Mars" and "The Warlords of Mars". Taylor Kitsch as John Carter is a perfect choice and a worthy actor to portray one of the first sci-fi heroes. Also Lynn Collins as Dejah is an impressively smart and strong heroine who can fight with equal skill alongside Carter. Coincidentally, Kitsch appeared briefly as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009) starring Hugh Jackman, along with Lynn Collins who played Silverfox. Another interesting appearance in John Carter is the author Edgar Rice Burroughs himself, played by Daryl Sabara (Spy Kids) as John Carter's supposed nephew. Oscar winning director Andrew Stanton is known for his involvement in many successful Disney/Pixar films as director for Wall-E (2008), Finding Nemo (2003) and co-director on A Bug's Life (1998). John Carter is an amazing action/sci-fi movie that will hopefully inspire a new generation of John Carter fans and readers. Happy 100th Anniversary John Carter of Mars!