Summer Movie Picks: John Carter Review
John Carter has all the elements a dad could want for a summertime popcorn movie: great special effects, super powers, epic battles, and a beautiful and tough heroine. As a kid, I loved the "Mars" stories by Edgar Rice Burroughs. For those unfamiliar, John Carter is a Civil War veteran who finds himself transported to Mars where he finds he has superhuman abilities and ends up in the middle of a Martian power struggle.
The plot is classic pulp fiction. John Carter, played with just enough swagger by Taylor Kitsch, finds himself having to battle his way out of many close calls and scrapes with the evil Matai Shang (Mark Strong). He is helped on his travels by the four-armed green-skinned Tharks played through outstanding CGI (computer-generated imagery) by Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton. Lynn Collins plays the beautiful princess Dejah Thoris. She is all the more attractive when she proves to have brains and brawn in addition to her good looks!
The effects in the movie are outstanding. From the Tharks, to the ships and weapons, to the huge leaps John Carter is able to make, Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom (Mars) looks better than he ever could have imagined in glorious high definition. The cinematography captures the vast desolation of Mars beautifully and looks outstanding in Disney's Blu Ray presentation. The 3D was done as a post-conversion (the movie was filmed In 2D), and the conversion is done well, giving good depth to scenes. This movie never takes itself too seriously and is reminiscent of the pulp fiction it was originally intended to be.
While watching it, I was reminded of Star Wars, Avatar and any number of other science fiction movies that have come before...not in a bad way because the John Carter stories were written long before any of these. If this movie had come first, it would hold a place among the sci-fi greats. Since it came after them, the story does not feel as fresh and innovative as it could.
One element that did set this movie apart from others was the wrap-around story with a young Edgar Rice Burroughs, played by Darryl Sabara. I enjoyed the twists this story provided and the context it gave to the rest of the film. I was pleased to find even more of this story in the deleted scenes on the bonus disc. The bottom line is that John Carter is a great piece of eye candy with enough of everything you want out of a summer sci-fi flick.
The 4 disc John Carter 3D combo pack includes the 3D Blu Ray disc, a 2d Blu Ray version of the film with great extras including deleted scenes, Disney's Second Screen, featurettes and bloopers, a DVD presentation of the film, and a digital copy.
Disclosure: Mom Central received a copy of John Carter to facilitate this review.
John Calandro is the husband of our Chief Mom Connector, Eileen Calandro. She lovingly refers to him as the LOML( Love of My Life) and adores him despite his comic book-loving geeky-ness.