As a fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs I was happy to see this film come out. While everyone went nuts for Tarzan books I always loved the Sci-Fi stories that Burroughs told so his John Carter series was loved by me. I really do not understand why people hated this film so much, it must be all the looking down the barrel game mentality of today. The film really was done well and to me, stay true to the spirit of the fiction that it was based on, A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is always a pleasure to see a film made that follows its source and tries to pay homage to it. This is what I saw in the film John Carter.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a man that has lost his way in life and has a lust for gold since he has nothing else. He is a veteran of the Civil War where he was a Captain of a Confederate Calvary Unit. He has lost his home and his family, both having been burnt to the ground and he has no love for authority at all. It is his quest for gold that actually leads to his death and resurrection, if you will, and sets him free to love once again. This film chronicles that journey and all of the unexpected twists and turns that it takes as he realizes that he isn’t even on Earth any more but actually on Mars, or Barsoom, as the Martians call it. The way he got to Mars is itself rather interesting as he had to kill a Thern to get there. It is also the Thern’s that are manipulating the struggles that are taking place on the dying planet.
Carter wakes up, after uttering the words the Thern was trying to say, in the middle of a deserted landscape. Everything looks the same yet different and he realizes something is wrong with his first step. He finds that he is no able to walk right for every time that he steps off he is catapulted into the air. He tries running, walking crawling and finally just shuffles to be able to get around. Gravity just doesn’t work the way that it should, he just doesn’t know why. So shuffle on he does till he finds a strange rock outcropping with a “spider” design upon it but he hears something within. Inside he sees a bunch of eggs that are hatching with six limbed green creatures coming out of them. Little does he know that these are actually one of the races of Mars, Tharks.
The Tharks find Carter at the hatching chamber but it is Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) that keeps him from being killed. He finds him to be a novelty since he can jump so high into the air. When Carter tries to escape he is shot and bound and taken back to one of the ancient cities of Barsoom. It is there that he is made part of the tribe, by force and sent to the nursery to be treated and trained as a child. That evening Sola (Samantha Morton) is sent to car for him as he has been assigned to her as her hatchling. It was ment to be a cruel joke on Sola but it is life saving for Carter, who they call Virginia, as she gives him “The Voice of Barsoom”. The liquid that she pours down his throat makes it so that he can both understand and communicate with those around him on Mars. All of mars speaks but one language even though there are many different writing systems.
When he comes too he again tries to escape and it would not be the first time. During that one he makes a friend of a giant lumbering toad looking things that acts like a dog. Since Carter can jump great distances he uses that to try and escape but the “dog” is actually lightening quick and keeps up with him bound for bound, sometimes even getting to where John will land before John even gets there. Of course the creature thinks it is a game and bonds with Carter is what will be a life long friendship. It also makes it that the creature can track him no matter where John might be.
The next day Tar Tarkas tries to make him jump but he refuses. Just as he is to be punished they see airships coming in that ride on the light. They are battleing and the Green Martian Tharks are cheering as they are killing each other. On the ships are Red Martians from 2 mega cities fighting one another. John sees what he thinks is a human falling from one of the ships and jumps to save Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) who he finds out later is actually a Martian princess that was running away from an aranged wedding that his father Tardos Mors (Ciaran Hinds), ruler of Helium and Sab Than (Dominic West), ruler of Zodanga. It is her cunning and feminine wiles that finally gets John Carter to believe in something again and even to be able to fall in love.
There is so much packed into this film, even Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) himself, that you wonder how they did so in the time that they had. Even with things being compressed you get all the drama and the action that was shown in the book of my youth. Anyone who has read the book A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs will be able to enjoy this film for what it is. For those that just don’t get it, read the book and then watch the film and just enjoy it. It really is a great film with lots of action, drama, romance and even a slight bit of comedy now and then. If you take the film for what it is then you will enjoy it, if you are expecting DOOM then you are definitely in the wrong place and time on Mars.
I give this film a Musing review of