278 of 293 people found the following review helpful
on 21 May 2012
Ok. Where to start?
Firstly, I have not read the book. So I can't draw any comparisons on content/accuracy etc.
What I wanted to do is simply dispel the rumours and terrible press this move has had to endure.
To start with the painfully obvious: This movie is unlikely to win any oscars (although the CGI is really really good).
I sat down to watch this with very very low expectations. I mean, how much could I expect from a movie panned by all critics and recording massive losses for Disney.
But you know what? This is actually rather good.
It's not going to make it into my all time top ten, but it's a lot of fun.
Maybe it helps that I'm a big sci-fi fan in general, but this type of movie is typically what I like to sit back and watch with full immersion without the need to really work the grey matter in my brain.
The alien race(s) are well developed, the imagery is superb, with Mars looking both daunting and amazing, and as mentioned before, the special effects are top drawer. The battles, especially those in the air are stunning visually.
The lead actors do a decent job of drawing you into their characters and their fight to address the demons in ther respective closets. The female lead is stunningly beautiful, and you never tire of her screen time. The bonus being that she doesnt whine or complain a great deal and really comes accross as a tough heroine in her own right. Carter is well acted, with occasional reference to his troubled past, but this works well as well as it's not overly frequent, and when it does occur, you actually feel for him, at least a bit.
And of course the story itself is excellent. You have to remember just how long ago the book was written. It makes it even more astounding as the level of imagination and creativity that has gone into the story is incredible.
So I guess my point is that this is a good movie. Really. Ignore the press, ignore the negative review. Speak to people that have seen it. Take a chance. Go and see it. Or buy this blu-ray. It's a bargain, and the movie will provide entertainment for all ages (excluding the very young kids).
PS. I thought one of the slightly weak bits was the white apes. Which bizarely is on the cover of the blu-ray. But don't let that put you off. This is a much, much better movie than it's given credit for.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 September 2012
John Carter is a hugely enjoyable sci-fi movie. I have absolutely no knowledge of the source material, and I'm sure the production issues, success/failure etc have already been covered better elsewhere, so I'll stick to trying to honestly say why I think it's worth watching:
Taylor Kitsch is enormously good fun as the lead. Charismatic, earnest and good hearted, he's an easy hero to champion, and also injects the parts with a very funny wry humour - first of all as a war veteran determined not to be captured in a brilliant sequence of events, and then as a baffled human transported millions of miles through space to an alien world.
Once there, his learning process is what sucks us in, as he pratfalls with the different gravity, enrages and then befriends huge tusked aliens with fascinating cultural behaviour, and utlimately tries to save their world.
All of the performers shine, with Lynn Collins radiant enough to captivate as the princess who captures his heart, and the voice actors are terrific at humanising the CGI aliens. The stunts are suitably astounding and 'out of this world' (leaps of hundreds of feet), the technology is gorgeously alien (vessels that glide and shimmer like dragonflies), and the bad guys are suitably evil and amoral, giving Carter a genuine challenge to battle against. Best of all, the challenges in the ending are vast, and you really feel the hero is striving through incredible odds to try to seize a well earned victory.
Fun, sweetly emotional, gorgeous in that 'desert alien world' manner that 'Dune' possessed, and extremely distinctive. This film deserved to soar - it's a shame it was condemned to failure by studio heads paranoid that using 'Mars' in the title would cause it to flounder, and who then unwittingly ensured it would by giving it a title worthier of a biopic about an accountant. Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How about a better self-fulfilling prophecy: if you rent a deliberately silly, fun, cheesy film about an earnest civil war hero saving Mars, you might end up grinning.
128 of 144 people found the following review helpful
on 21 March 2012
I saw this film last week and it is an excelllent representation of ERBs "A Princess of Mars"
The savaging of this film by the media is not only unfair, its unjustified and frankly I have been disgusted at some of the so called critics and their reviews.
Everyone,I know,that saw this film, loved it-so give it a chance-you will not regret it.
This film is good old fashioned escapism, of a swashbuckling kind,I thought it was better than Avatar ( it was more fun,thats for sure)
Its a pity the film was not given a proper chance.I think it will be judged very kindly, in future years and its a pity more people didnt take a chance on going to the cinema to watch it.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2015
Read the books as a teenager, but recall little about them, other than that they seemed sexy [Which this film is NOT]; Burroughs living out his fantasies on Mars maybe...
There is much in the film to like. You can see a lot of time was spent filming, and my impression is that the editing was where the damage was done; a director who didn't really know how to tell the story. I lost the will to live watching the first 15 mins - if only they had cut all that Western tosh and skipped straight to Carter's sudden transport to Mars. The actor playing Carter was worse than the guy in Clash of the Titans... two expressions - blank & grumpy; maybe indigestion too.... I noticed later in the film that the camera lingered on Thuvia - probably as consolation, but also because she was a better actor; albeit lumbered with some totally passionless lines. Wish script writers would watch older films to see how much can be conveyed with looks and clever writing...
Anyway - millions of others have had their say...
120 of 136 people found the following review helpful
I liked this film a lot. Long long time ago, when I was a teenager, I read some of Edgar Rice Burroughs novels in the "Barsoom" series (Barsoom means Mars in Martian language) and I enjoyed them greatly. And thanks to this movie, I just relived again this experience and I could enjoy a little bit of the old magic.
Burroughs books about Tarzan (he created this character) had quite a number of movie adaptations, but his Martian and Venusian series were considered for a long time too hard to film. Considering that the first book was written in 1912 and that the first plans to film it were made (without success) in 1931, it certainly took time to have a movie version of the first of "Barsoom" books - but considering the rather pleasant result, it was worth waiting that long.
Below I tried to describe the best things in this film, with as little SPOILERS as possible.
1. John Carter from Virginia, a former captain of Confederate cavalry. For my personal taste Taylor Kitsch pictured him quite well, and the scenario describes him like in the book, as a man courageous, strong and aggressive but also noble, faithful and clever. Unlike in some other action movies I found this hero quite LIKEABLE - he is a little bit grim and sullen in the beginning, but we soon come to understand why and frankly he has reasons to be in such a state of mind. His progressive awakening to a second chance in life is credible and a pleasant thing to watch.
2. Dejah Thoris of Helium, the Princess of Mars. Actually, the first book in "Barsoom" series, of which this film is the adaptation, had for title precisely "A Princess of Mars", as Dejah Thoris is a character as important as John Carter. In the film, in my opinion her character completely steals the show and it is in large part due to the excellent performance of Lynn Collins. Whoever cast her in that role was a genius! Her Dejah Thoris is an excellent mixture of an amazon (courage and strength), a scholar (brains and learning) and an aristocratic young lady (pride and manners). In this film Dejah Thoris is different from what we could see in the first "Barsoom" book (in which she never even touches a weapon), but it doesn't really hurt the story.
Lynn Collins was clearly instructed to play Dejah Thoris as warrior princess, but she still kept Dejah Thoris a very feminine character, in the best sense of the term. Although she swings the sword and pilots the warships as the best male warriors of her country, she also can display a moment of girlish cheerfulness and enthusiasm, smile in a way which melts the hardest hearts, give looks filled with an almost motherly warmth and tenderness (and also a purring promise) and walk in such a way that all males in the assistance are almost howling! I particularly appreciated the fact that when sharpening her sword she simply couldn't resist to look on the blade, check her make up and preen a little... And then, there are short moments when we perceive a brief glimpse of vulnerability - and at that time she is even more impressive.
The fact that Ms Collins is a very beautiful woman with an exceptional figure only adds to her performance - also her clothes, body paintings, haircut, makeup and jewelry were perfectly well chosen! And I really believe that her model of wedding dress should be MANDATORY on Earth - the number of men willing to marry would probably explode overnight as the result! Frankly, when she appeared in her wedding dress, the male part of the public gasped - and in the same time many girls in the cinema started to emit noises similar to those made by a very angry rattlesnake when choking on a half swallowed chinchilla...)))
To resume, Lynn Collins pictured a PERFECT Dejah Thoris. Even if this character is not entirely faithful to the one imagined by Edgar Rice Burroughs, I still had a feeling of "Dejah Vu" (sorry for that, I couldn't resist...)
3. The Tharks, desert warriors. Excellent. I found every scene with Thark tribe a delight. The characters of Tars Tarkas and Sola are very well done and played. The Woola "dog" is simply too cute and extremely funny - every scene when it appears was welcomed by a big laughter in the cinema.
4. Other special effects. This film was very costly and you can really see the effects on the screen. The mobile city of Zodanga, walking through the desolate deserts of Mars is really impressive. The flying warships are excellent. The gigantic White Apes are really impressive and scary. The city of Helium is very beautiful. And finally, the panorama of Mars is really well done - one can immediately see that this world was once full of life, but it is now dying and in dire need of help...
5. Dominic West. He plays a scoundrel - again. I must admit that I have a weakness for this actor, since watching him in "The Wire", but also the "300" and "Centurion". Here his role is not as important as it could be, considering that he is not exactly THE main villain (it is not exactly a spoiler - we learn it in the first scene of the film). But it is still a pleasure to watch him.
6. Difference with the books. There are many small and one HUGE difference with the "Princess of Mars", concerning the race of Therns, who in the book do not play an important role - in the "Barsoom" series they really appear in later parts. But I believe this HUGE change for once was a rather good thing, as it allows for a more logical explanation of John Carter's travels from Earth to Mars. The smaller differences didn't hurt the movie either.
7. The ending is quite good, not stupid at all and rather moving. And that is something not so frequent in modern Hollywood movies. Good job for this one!
Bottom line, I liked this film a lot and I am certainly going to buy it as soon as it is available - preferably in Blu-Ray, because here the quality of image has its importance. And I will certainly go to see the sequel if there is one, for many obvious reasons but especially because I am DYING to see how they would solve the little problem of Martian reproduction - because you see, in the books, when John Carter and Dejah Thoris are married, she lays him an egg...)))
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 11 August 2013
I have a theory when I watch the films in my collection that are supposed to be rubbish because 'they did not do well at the box office'. It's about a fireworks display: Loads of people turn up and it's awful because the people doing it haven't spent enough, but it's a 'hit' simply because they take more than they paid. Then you get the ones where they spend loads, but don't make enough back to cover the budget. So you get a massive display. They just lose money.
Does it make the film bad? Well, no, cos the 'display' is still good, yes? Just there were not enough people to see it.
John Carter carries that like a millstone and I really felt I might be taking a chance when I bought it. But after the first half an hour, some of which takes a little bit to get going, the film is off. No spoilers, but some of the CGI characters wipe anything in the later Star Wars films off the map.
The Tharks are SO realistic, you forget after a while you are watching CGI. Oh. And got to love the 'dog' - watch the film, you'll get it.
Some might say it's not original: There is an arena scene VERY VERY similar to the one in Attack of the Clones. But bear in mind that this came first - not in film terms, but from the original book, written by the guy that wrote Tarzan. In fact Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future) was offered the chance to direct and said "Lucas picked the bones of that already". But this IS a PROPER story.
And so this is a better film than any of Part 1, 2 or 3 Star Wars films. Taylor Kistch comes over as a dashing, charismatic hero and Lynn Collins is the perfect leading lady for the Dad's especially.
Terrific fun and take my advice, ignore the box office.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 5 March 2013
I have had an interest in Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter character since the late 1970's when he had a three year run in a Marvel comics series - this encouraged to buy some of the original paperbacks & I found ERB's Martian world to be of great interest - ERB being one of the pioneers of the fantasy hero genre (of course he also wrote the Tarzan books) - Burroughs being a direct catalyst for RE Howard's successful Conan series (REH based his Almuric stories on John Carter).
Therefore when a major film was announced for John Carter I was excited by the prospect - however this was soon followed by a number of negative reviews as it hit the cinemas.
Well I have now seen John Carter on a 37" screen rather than at the cinema but I can't for the life of me understand why so much criticism was generated by the critics - from what I can recall much of ERB's A Princess of Mars has been used to good effect generating a fast paced, "cheer the hero" story - despite my initial reservations about the casting of the two leads- Taylor Kitsch & Lynn Collins - (Dejah Thoris was always portrayed as comparable to Egypt's Cleopatra in appearance) I have to say that by the end of the film they had completely won me over - both putting in fine performances in keeping with an action / adventure film.
Generally the special effects & depiction of this Martian world were well done - only a few dodgy effects such as JC jumping about & a couple of flying sequences but otherwise quite impressive.
There are times during the film when you are reminded of the serials of the 1930/40s that played in theatres on Saturday mornings - also of the Flash Gordon movie and Star Wars series - but what you have to remember is that ERB wrote his Martian stories 100 years ago well before the other material appeared - ERB's inspiration was probably HG Wells (Time Machine & War Of The Worlds) from about 15 years earlier but he has certainly moved things on.
Both the framing sequences to the main action - the mystery put before Carter's relative & Carter's past as a Captain in the US army worked well.
The film's conclusion where our hero decides where his future lies is also effective - he is now John Carter of MARS.
To sum up - I can't put myself in the shoes of the general public or film critics who went into a movie theatre with no prior knowledge of the character so I don't know whether they would have found any of the story confusing or whether there were too many characters or tribes to take in - or whether there were any other reasons for negativity - all I found was a rollicking adventure film that grabbed my attention from start to finish - if you are looking for 2 hours of fantasy film enjoyment then you could do a lot worse than pick this movie.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Fanboys may love to blame the marketing or the title change or even an elaborate conspiracy by Disney to sabotage their own massively expensive film for John Carter - formerly John Carter of Mars - becoming the biggest money loser of all time, but Andrew Stanton's very loose reworking of Edgar Rice Boroughs' books has plenty of more fundamental problems that turned a potential franchise into a $200m loss on its theatrical run. The twin perils of poor casting and lumpy storytelling for a start. Stanton never made much secret of the fact he didn't think Burroughs' influential pulp novels were that good and made huge changes not just to the plot, not least introducing a radically reworked version of the villains from the second novel into the film, but also to the central character, turning him from a heroic adventurer to a bad tempered, moping gold-hungry prospector so he can have more of an emotional journey before becoming the saviour of Barsoom, as the locals call Mars. The kind of thing that Harrison Ford could have done in his sleep back in the 80s before he settled into his grumpy old man routine, it could have worked with a genuinely charismatic lead, but Tyler Kitsch ain't it, sulking and growling his way though the first half of the film as the script requires without ever making you give a damn about him.
Not that he's the only one who feels wrong - the actor playing Burroughs in one of the film's multiple framing scenes and the cavalry officer who tries to press Carter into service against the Apaches in what feels like the third opening of the picture grate more than somewhat, and you suspect that they're not getting much help from behind the camera. Stanton's direction doesn't help keep things moving either. It's not always that his ideas are all bad, more that some of them just don't work, partially because of the constant stop/start rhythm of the film, partially because the character doesn't win you over and you tend to notice the joins more because of it. Even when the film finally does promise to burst into action, it's either uninspiringly handled or, in the case of the Tharks' attack on the city that oh so very briefly promises to turn into Lawrence of Arabia with aliens, over in a few shots because a minute of thousands of CGi creatures is much more expensive to shoot even on a $250m budget than several minutes of thousands of real Arabs on real camels.
Perhaps the biggest problem is that in the hundred years since the books were published, they've been strip-mined by everyone from George Lucas and Frank Herbert to James Cameron, so that there's so little that's new to moviegoers here that it needs to be told with real panache and enthusiasm. Unfortunately what we get is an overfamiliar tale clumsily told, despite the large amount of money spent telling it. It's not a disaster of Dune-like proportions, though it does share David Lynch's film's habit of spending so much time stopping the film to explain the plot that the story never really gets a chance to get going: it's the kind of film where Mark Strong's shape-shifting villain will capture the hero only to take him for a long walk in front of expensive CGi backgrounds so he can explain the plot at great length for several minutes. What makes it worse is that his character is actually from the second novel in the series and remains an unresolved behind-the-scenes manipulator obviously being set up for a sequel that will never happen. Not that this is good enough for that to be a cause of much regret.
There is enough that is good to make it worth a look, albeit more as a rental than a purchase: the Tharks are well realised and parts of the film do work and momentarily create a very 1960s fantasy film sense of wonder before the film almost completely loses its way in a rather messily staged final battle and a twist-in-the-tale epilogue that needs far too much setting up at the beginning of the picture. It's certainly not as bad as its huge losses would imply, but it's just too mediocre to really stand out in an increasingly crowded field.
Typically for a flop, the extras package seems a lot less extravagant than it was presumably originally intended to be (the French 3-disc 3D release also includes two extended scenes and an additional featurette). There's a lengthy selection of deleted scenes that wouldn't have improved the picture - one even includes the Princess of Mars telling the assembled statesmen of her kingdom all about their planet at great length as if they needed to be told where they were - a decent look at a day in the making of the film, audio commentary by Stanton and his producers, self-congratulatory featurette about the origins of the film that includes a glimpse of the test footage Bob Clampett shot for his proposed 1930s animated version as well as an interview with Jon Favreau, who spent years developing a much less expensive version of the film that was abandoned due to budget concerns, and a blooper reel.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 2012
As the title of my review says "A hero from page to screen". Now I know this film didn't do well at the box office but as far as I'm concerned it's already one of my favourites. I have been a fan of the tales of John Carter as penned by Edgar Rice Burroughs since first discovering them in my local book shop in the late 1970's. At the time the books had been published by Del Ray with fantastic cover art by Michael Whelan & they were the kind of exciting escapism a teenage boy could loose himself in. Indeed I still have all the books & I re-read them all from time to time. Imagine then my delight at finding that a big budget movie had been made about my favourite pulp hero. As to the film itself, it's true it is not entirely accurate to the books but it has captured the spirit of the stories perfectly. The story itself is best described as science fantasy & concerns the adventures of the title character, an ex American Civil War Cavalry Captain who is mysteriously transported to the planet Mars. If I were to be really critical, & this is an entirely personal view; the books themselves feature a lot of sword play & I feel this was just a little lacking in the movie. That aside it's great family entertainment & I hope it enjoys more success on disc than it did on the big screen, indeed everyone I know who has seen the film has only had good thngs to say about it. The Blu-Ray picture & sound are superb & the impressive visuals are shown off in fantastic detail. Buy it, watch it, & hopefully it will spur you on to read the books & loose yourself in the world of Barsoom among the Tharks, Banths, White Apes & Red Men.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 October 2012
As has been remarked elsewhere this film could be taken as a Job's style bozo-metre, some just won't "get it", and judging by some of the reviews they were right, they didn't.
This film is a story that's now a CENTURY old, that's right, the original John Carter and the Princess of Mars was first published in 1912, and was the influence of many of the greatest authors / screenplay writers and modern directors in sci-fi history, whom grew up reading the Barsoom series as youths.
For me it was delicious to watch; not because I'm a fan of the series, I've never read any of the books, BUT I am a huge fan of the authors that followed and used bits here and there, most notably Robert A Heinlein, whom threaded breadcrumbs about Barsoom and it's characters throughout many of his books, but until now they were just as abstract as the rest, now given faces and form, almost like meeting a penpal for the first time.
As for modern day sci-fi films, you just can't compare it to them, because it will never be of the same ilk, just as the recent adaptations of Sherlock Holmes are not compared to modern day films of the same type. People understand that the Sherlock films are based on a character more than a century old; well, John carter isn't that far behind.
The only reason John Carter didn't do so well at the box is because it has been released AFTER those that it inspired to be created.
No-one would dare question the influences of Flash Gordon, Star Wars and other big box office hits on the sci-fi genre, well...
John Carter was their Father.