Not such a long time ago, in a galaxy that’s very familiar to us … Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote a classic novel that inspired many other storytellers, from Arthur C. Clark to James Cameron.
John Carter was originally penned as A Princess of Mars over 100 years ago, one of the first interplanetary romances ever written. The John Carter books became a popular series, although JC himself remained less famous than Burroughs’ other invention, Tarzan.
At the end of the 19th century, American civil war veteran John Carter (Kelowna-born Taylor Kitsch) avoids capture from a band of Apaches by hiding in a cave. Inside this cave, Carter has a close encounter of the “Thern” kind, where he is magically transported to the planet Barsoom, a.k.a Mars. On Barsoom he meets a species of four-armed troglodytes (the Tharks) trapped between warring (human) inhabitants and a beautiful princess longing for peace (Lynn Collins). Everybody wants John Carter on their side as he has impressive Earth powers, due to Barsoom’s gravity and his own physiology. All John Carter wants to do is get home, but he can’t get around his current situation, he’s going to have to go through it. Will John Carter fight off the baddies, become royalty and win the girl? Will he ever return to his miserable Earthen existence? Is this even a choice?
We say, watch it, it’s familiar fun.
HOWE: John Carter is a great-looking movie, the special effects are good, but nothing Earth shattering. The storyline flows nicely, but don’t nip out for popcorn or a loo break, you may miss something.
TAYLOR: The effects were awesome because you didn’t notice them. Sixty per cent of this movie must have been animated. Weird character and place names lose me sometimes, but that’s all you could lose track of in this movie. The story, as they say in the trailer, inspired everything. Boy gets lost. Boy finds war. Boy finds girl. Boy loves girl. Boy fights war. War gets won. Girl gets won. Everybody wins except the bad guys. You’ve already enjoyed this movie, over and over again.
HOWE: Yeah, but I would watch it again just to see the princess.
TAYLOR: At just under two-and-a-quarter hours, this film is asking for respect. This is meant to be a serious interpretation of the classic novel transformed into a classic Disney film. I haven’t read the novel, but I think it was an effective and entertaining movie. Although, it’s sort of the same ol’ tale. I can’t knock the film for its originality due to its lateness in blooming.
HOWE: So did Disney turn John Carter into a classic film? I say yes. It kept me hooked and intrigued throughout and I can’t wait for the sequel. John Carter has got everything a classic sci-fi movie needs.
TAYLOR: Action, honour, mystery, magic and romance, and the tidiest battle scenes ever captured on film. Look ma, no mess!
Howe gives John Carter 3.5 eight-legged space mutts out of five. Taylor gives it three loincloths out of five.
Brian Taylor and Peter Howe are movie reviewers living in the Okanagan.