John Carter (Review)

John Carter

aka John Carter of Mars

Written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon
Directed by Andrew Stanton

John Carter of Mars
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.
John Carter of Mars
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 of Mars

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.

John Carter of Mars
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John Carter of Mindless Violence

Here’s the last John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) trailer, and it looks like they went from explaining nothing and looking boring to explaining nothing and having mindless violence. So. Yeah. Still no mention of “Directed by the guy who did Wall-E” or “From the writer who brought you Tarzan”. It’s a damn shame that people on the internet have done a way better job promoting John Carter than Disney, and we have absolutely nothing riding on this except the cost of our movie ticket. At least my old copies of the Barsoom books will still be there (though mine are in storage atm with most of my other pulp novels!)
It takes a Carter to bring peace to Mars...
Jimmy Carter of Mars via

John Carter of Different Trailer

Here is a trailer spot for John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) that showed up on, which features the odd line about how the Martians are going to invade Earth or something. In case you are wondering, that’s not in the books at all. It is weird, each trailer is either really good or really terrible.

John Carter of Extended Super Bowl Ad

Hey, they cut out the “Ma’am” in the “Yes, ma’am”! That makes that scene 100% less corny. So here is your extended commercial for John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) that has a bit more new footage. Things still don’t look totally awesome, but at least we’re seeing some nice action pieces, things exploding, and apes being killed by huge rocks.

Taylor Kitsch John Carter

John Carter of TV Spots

Two new tv spots for John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) One is just as bland as the trailers, one is more exciting than the trailers.

The more boring commercial:

The far less boring commercial:

Time will tell if John Carter (of Mars, dammit!) can break free of the stigma of looking too much like boring films that ripped it off that past 100 years and become a hit. But if it is more like the second commercial than the first, then a chance is had.