John Carter (of Mars)

I came into this movie with some baggage. I love the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs and the pulpy romance aspect of it and I was hoping that would remain intact in the film version. The books are very romantic. They have a bunch of epic adventures and daring-do and bravery and stuff, but John Carter is a guy who falls in love with a princess and that’s what I like about it. I wanted John Carter to be my chick flick.

So is it any good?

The short answer is yes. It’s not perfect (I hate it when people say that! What’s perfect? Why should a movie be perfect?) but what works works so damn well that I’m willing to forgive the shortcomings.

First: The action and adventure aspect of the film is extra great! There is a battle about halfway through the film that is fucking insane. It gave me chills and made me want to cheer. John Carter is a warrior, a hero (albeit a reluctant one) and any time his heart tells him he needs to fight, sparks fly off the screen. But that’s just one scene of many, and all the adventure works incredibly well.

I really liked John Carter as a character too, he isn’t overly complex or layered and that’s fine. He’s a quiet, herioc soldier thrust into an impossible situation and I was more than willing to follow him through it. He’s funny at times but mostly a serious man, just trying to keep up with the unbelievable events unfolding around him.

The princess, Dejah Thoris, is also great! More than just John Carter's equal, she is a thrilling character, full of sacrifice, bravery and dillemas. I hope my nieces end up seeing this film and fall in awe of her. She kicks ass but she is also a great moral compass for John Carter, and a fine role model for young girls. In any case I had no trouble believing John Carter was falling in love with her, and her with him.

Even when the movie starts to, at times,  drag a little (which is the only negative criticism I have) it is always absolutely stunning to look at and the effects and scenery are awe-inspiring. I LOVE that, for example, the space ships are mechanical and stirred much like vessels instead of like, say, the Millenium Falcon. It gives the whole world it’s own unique history. They haven’t gotten to computers yet, but they’ve figured out how to sail on light waves. That’s really awesome.

This movie also gives us another magnificent score from the always great Michael Giacchino. This guy is really becoming my absolute favorite Hollywood composer and here he takes the world of Barsoom (Mars, in the Burroughs universe) and gives it even more emotional depth and grandeur with his sweeping melodies and epic score. 

I will buy John Carter when it comes out on bluray and I will watch it again several times, pouring over every detail of the world and wishing I too could go have adventures on Mars and court a lovely and brave princess and win her heart. 

As far as ass-kicking, rip-roaring sci-fi pulp adventures go, this one’s a winner. I hope they make Gods Of Mars and Warlord of Mars too, and we get an amazing John Carter trilogy! After the terrible Starwars prequels, I think we more than deserve it.

So, yeah, long story short, this will be my new chick flick for a while. There’s a hot princess in it, so it counts.