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Movie Review: “John Carter”

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Grade: B

When I saw the first trailer for Disney’s “John Carter” I wasn’t all that interested in seeing the movie. However, after some persuasion from my cousin I made my way to the theater and found that I actually enjoyed the film.

“John Carter” is a film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs 1917 novel “A Princess of Mars,” his first in a series of 11 novels. The story follows veteran Confederate army captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) who has lost his family to a tragic disaster.

After the death of his family, Carter becomes a prospector searching for gold in the Arizona territory. After a fateful event that occured in a cave of gold Carter is transplanted to Barsoom, or Mars. It’s a strange and mysterious place to him and serves as the home to various races of human-looking people and alien “green Martian men.”

Carter has only one wish and that is to return to Earth. Before he can do so, however, he must save the Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and her people, of Hemlium, from their ancient enemy the city-state of Zodanga.

“John Carter” wasn’t what I expected. Then again, after seeing several trailers and lacking the knowledge that it was a novel adaptation, I knew little about what encompassed the story of the character John Carter. What I thought to be an attempt by Disney to cash in on the space epic was not the case for “John Carter.” This film brought its own nostalgia and fantastical universe to life, which is rare in Hollywood these days.

The best part about the film in my opinion was the cinematography. The film looked great. And when you consider that it’s based on a planet that we have knowledge of but don’t fully understand, it’s a great feat. The film gave the planet Mars a real atmosphere, no pun intended.

In having viewed other Mars based movies I’ve noticed that they concentrated on one thing and one thing only, the red surface of Mars. But in John Carter there are beautifully constructed rock formations, cities literally carved into the sides of mountains and flowing waterways. It separates Mars from the stigma of merely being a desolate wasteland and I thought that was great.

My only complaint about the film was its depth. I’ve realized after viewing the film that the story would obviously make a great novel but just doesn’t translate to film as well as I think it should.

There were times where so much was going on and the story was so quickly paced that I found myself confused and asking, “what just happened and who are these people?” If one were to read the novel they would have unlimited time to analyze and learn about each individual character. But when a story is as deep as “John Carter” is, it’s difficult to fit that into an acceptable run time without having to produce the film in two parts.

“John Carter” to me was great film that I would love to see again. It’s a beautifully constructed piece once you get past and understand how deep of a story it truly is. I applaud Disney on their efforts and although I don’t believe there will be a sequel I would really like to see the continuation of this franchise.

What did you think of “John Carter”? Do you agree that it is a great film? Respond to Nathan in the comments section below.

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