Pin It
Favorite

Mars Needs Johns 

Having totally won America's Civil War, a soldier lands on the red planet and tries to stop theirs.

click to enlarge But it\'s really about the feelings.
  • But it\'s really about the feelings.

The best things about John Carter lie underneath the spaceships, monsters, huge battles and Avatar-level 3D. It’s a funny film, due to both snark and pratfall gags. It’s romantic. It has the coolest dog (or whatever it is that passes for a dog on Mars), who’s very fast, very ugly, and has a big blue slobbering tongue.

Based on the trilogy of Mars-based science-fiction novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs (who also created Tarzan), this is the adventure told in the first book, A Princess of Mars, about former Confederate Army officer John Carter. In the book, he was a prospector searching for gold in the Old West. He’s that here, too, though now also a cocky troublemaker who’s looking out only for himself. He finds his legendary cave of gold, where (wouldn’t you know it?) a strangely dressed bald guy from another world has been hiding. There’s a blinding flash of blue light, then Carter wakes up in the middle of a desert — on Mars or, as it’s known locally, Barsoom.

Carter’s strength and agility are increased because of the planet’s low gravity. On the downside, he just got out of a civil war on earth and he plops down in the middle of another — thousand-year-old — one on Mars.

Scantily clad and tough-as-nails Princess Dejah (Lynn Collins from X-Men Origins: Wolverine) has been told by her dad (Ciaran Hinds) that the only way to save their city of Helium is for her to marry Sab Than (Dominic West), the vile leader of the Zordangans. But when she meets handsome Captain Carter, she has hopes of finding a way out of that marriage.

There are lots of complications, but it’s all neatly told by Andrew Stanton, who directed the Pixar gems Finding Nemo and WALL-E, and makes his live-action debut here. Stanton gives us a spectacular epic, kicking off with a battle sequence with gladiator-like pirates duking it out in elegant airships, then mixing in tidbits of political intrigue, shape-shifting villains, and even a brief but heartbreaking flashback that reveals what turned the once-happy Carter into a sad, angry loner.

A visual treat from beginning to end, John Carter wisely uses dedicated 3D cameras to focus on depth and massive scope, especially in the battle scenes, even as the script goes out of its way to take an anti-war stance.

Tags: ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Film

Latest in Film

  • Real Disaster
  • Real Disaster

    Deepwater Horizon feels trapped between tragic facts and genre conventions
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • The Kids Aren't Alright
  • The Kids Aren't Alright

    Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children can't quite strike the balance between whimsy and darkness
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • Enemy No. 1
  • Enemy No. 1

    Oliver Stone's Snowden doesn't break new ground but is still a thrill ride
    • Sep 22, 2016
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

More by Ed Symkus

  • Ode to <i>Joy</i>-less
  • Ode to Joy-less

    This reviewer really, really doesn't like Jennifer Lawrence
    • Dec 23, 2015
  • Winning Reboot
  • Winning Reboot

    Somehow, Arnold's return to the Terminator franchise makes for solid sci-fi
    • Jul 1, 2015
  • Dog of a Story
  • Dog of a Story

    Max wastes a promising idea on forgettable characters
    • Jun 24, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Feminist First

    Through her music, Dolly Parton has always shown women how to stay strong
    • Sep 15, 2016
  • Art of the Deal

    Local indie labels offer artists another marketing option, but not everyone is convinced they're necessary
    • Sep 1, 2016
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

COUNTRY


Readers also liked…

  • Where Are the Women?
  • Where Are the Women?

    A critic's year-long deep dive into the way movies portray half of humanity
    • May 12, 2016
  • Behind the Music
  • Behind the Music

    The Grammy Awards are about much more than what you see on TV
    • Feb 11, 2015

© 2016 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation