2012 Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon
Directed by Andrew Stanton
As you might expect, I’m a rather big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his Barsoom stories. I have the whole series in old out of print volumes culled from bookstores across the country. I have many other Burroughs books and other pulp novels. I have the Guide to Barsoom and some other books where Martians show up, and some of the old Marvel comics. You might say I like this crazy fantasy stuff. So, yes, I was excited that we were finally getting our big screen Barsoom film. Then it got renamed John Carter.
After 100 years, A Princess of Mars is finally coming to the big screen (if you ignore Asylum’s DTV Princess of Mars…) as John Carter. John Carter. No “Of Mars”, no “A Princess of Mars”, no nothing. Add to that all the other abysmal marketing Disney did for the film, and suddenly the rumors that this will be the biggest box office bomb in the history of the planet and the red planet as well started to spring up. “Whatever,” I said, because I’ll let the movie speak for itself. And the movie has finally spoken. And it’s good. Not excellent, but good. Good enough that John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) should be doing better at the box office than it is tracking. Good enough that the naysayers were wrong, even if John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) does lose a lot of money, it is not because John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) failed.
That is not to say there isn’t any problems. There are. Some are pretty big. But I’ll get to most of them. But a simple review like this right after watching on opening night doesn’t do John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) justice, so rest assured there will be another, longer, super detailed, mega-ultra-hyper-giga-supreme-double-secret-comprehensive review once John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) is on DVD and I can screencap and watch a bajillion times to my heart’s content.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) – The fighting man of Mars with the super jumping powers and the getting into everyone’s business powers. I will say making John Carter a reluctant hero is boring, that’s been overplayed since the 90s. And capitalizing it with him having a dead wife and kid just makes it even more boring. None of that junk is in the book, John Carter is just a dude who fights. No one needs a giant backstory. I didn’t start this website because a movie killed my family, sometimes things just are.
Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) – Now, I did not like what they did with John Carter, but I did like what they did with Dejah Thoris, making her a much stronger female character who still has the poise and confidence of a princess, even if she does human things from time to time. She’s also not afraid to fight for her country, the Dejah Thoris of the books does not fight at all and is more of a proud trophy that half the planet is trying to kidnap and marry.
Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) – Jeddak of the Tharks and the guy who finds John Carter after he gets his ass to Mars. Helps Carter in order to help his secret daughter, Sola.
Sola (Samantha Morton) – Thark female assigned to care for John Carter, is treated as a screw up by the evil woman Sarjoka. Is unaware that Tars Tarkas is her father.
Woola (CGI) – Martian dog assigned to keep watch on John Carter, instead becoming his loyal companion. Woola’s best scene (and one of the more charming scenes in the film) is when he’s first introduced, as it both gives us a look at his character and is entertaining as well.
Matai Shang (Mark Strong) – The leader of the Holy Therns aka White Martians aka the bad guys. While not originally in the original book (Matai and his buddies show up in books 2 and 3) he’s here causing trouble to make a bigger, more cohesive arc between a planned trilogy. Matai Shang and his ilk are more technologically advanced than in the books and have a far more sinister origin and goal.