Film review: John Carter

posted at 11:30 am on March 11, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

I had serious misgivings about seeing John Carter before I went to the theater last night.  In fact, after reading the plot summary from its IMDB page to my wife, she wished me a pleasant evening by myself and stayed home.  After all, a film about a Civil War veteran ending up on Mars does sound a bit ridiculous in a Cowboys & Aliens way, but John Carter actually works better than that movie, thanks to the literary foundation given to it by Edgar Rice Burroughs, from whose novel “A Princess of Mars” the film was derived.

John Carter starts off with a young Edgar Rice Burroughs being summoned by uncle John who dies before Edgar can get to him.  A rich but eccentric man, John spent most of his short years between the Civil War and his death exploring — apparently for a specific reason, although no one could determine what it was.  A journal left behind for Edgar’s eyes only explains what John had been doing all those years, why he became fabulously wealthy — and why the stories he told his nephew as a little boy were actually true.  And it might just be that Edgar, now a young man, has a role to play in John’s adventure still.

Even after taking my seat with a healthy level of skepticism, it was impossible for me to not enjoy this film from almost the very beginning.  The circumstances of John’s death gives the early sequences a 19th-century mystery feel, which then gives way to a Western, and then finally a mix of Western and space opera that works better than it sounds.  The visual presentation has a similar feel at times to Thor, and at other times to Dune, while the machinery resembles more the technological spirit of 2002′s The Time Machine.  Getting the nuances of the different tribes and races of Mars took a little time — the Tharks, the humanoids from the city-states of Helium and Zadonga, and the Therns, who in the film are a malevolent and potentially immortal force — but was not a large hurdle.  The action is well-mixed with the necessary exposition, and the pace never feels either lethargic or forced.

Excellent performances by the cast certainly add to the success of the film.  Some fans will recognize the two leads, Taylor Kitsch as John and Lynn Collins as the Mars princess Dejah Thoris, from their previous work in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where both had smaller roles and didn’t interact with each other.  Kitsch carries the film well, but Collins is especially good, projecting strength, vulnerability, and passion — along with the kind of sultry exotic look that one would expect from a Burroughs story.  Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, and Thomas Haden Church voice the main Tharks, with Morton being particularly good as Sola.  Interestingly, I recognized Ciarán Hinds and James Purefoy from their work on the brilliant miniseries Rome as Julius Caesar and Marc Antony, respectively — and in John Carter, their roles have a similar relationship, although much more benign.

John Carter has plenty of surprises and edge-of-the-seat action all the way to the very end.  It won’t win a nomination for Best Picture, but as a fun adventure and popcorn movie, it’s terrific and smarter than most, especially this time of year.  Don’t be surprised at the end if you’d like another trip to Mars very soon.

John Carter is rated PG-13, with a lot of violence, some of it quite bloody (even if the blood might be another color at times) and very intense.  It has no foul language or nudity — a few skimpy outfits for Collins, but nothing one wouldn’t have seen on a Xena: Warrior Princess episode.  I wouldn’t take my oldest granddaughter to see it and she’s nearly 10 years old; I think it’s probably appropriate for teenagers, but I’d be leery about going any younger.

Update: A couple of points of clarification.  I’ve never read the Burroughs novels, so I can’t judge how well the filmmakers adapted the source material, although I’d be curious to hear from Burroughs readers to get their reaction.  Second — and I should have mentioned this in the review — I saw the 3-D version last night, which was well done but probably isn’t necessary to enjoy the movie.

Update II: I referred to Cowboys Vs Aliens in the first paragraph, but the film was called Cowboys & AliensHere’s my review of it.


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Comment pages: 1 2

“I hate Hollywood and everything they do! I Won`t watch it!” That`s the usual response, close thread. (I`m kidding! lol)

It does look very entertaining. I rarely spend the cash to go out and see a movie. This may be an exception.

ThePrez on March 11, 2012 at 11:39 AM

Thanks Ed.
I don’t see movies in theaters any more, but I may consider John Carter when I make my occasional sojourn to Redbox.

22044 on March 11, 2012 at 11:41 AM

Ed,

Have you ever read “A Princess of Mars?” If so how good is the adaptation? The previews looked very good. I am a big fan of Burroughs series of Barsoomian adventures.

dogsoldier on March 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I found these stories when I was in the Army in the mid 70s. I still have all the paperbacks except the last. They were great reading! I hadn’t even heard there was going to be a movie.

I never read the Tarzan books, but did see many of the movies. I often wondered why the John Carter series wasn’t more popular.

TugboatPhil on March 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

John Carter coming to Jtv in a day or two.

multiuseless on March 11, 2012 at 11:47 AM

Okay, who besides me is curious to read the review Ed will give “The Three Stooges” when it comes out next month?

radjah shelduck on March 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Your devotion to your readers’ needs is truly humbling, Ed.

Seth Halpern on March 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Princess of Mars, the book, was the basis for and inspired much of the loved sci-fi of the past 100 years. George Lucas, arthur c clark, Sagan, Bradbury, James Cameron all took inspiration from it. (Some even took major plot points.) I think the superman creators borrowed from the concept heavily as their character was originally envisioned. (Alien in a strangeworld with Super strength and could only jump large distances, not fly.)

When Burroughs (tarzan’s creator) wrote the book nearly a hundred years ago, man was only a few years with flight.

Great book. The movie was great fun too. Not an exact copy of the books.

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Princess_of_Mars

Chubbs65 on March 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

cool Ed, thanks. I’ll consider.

ted c on March 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Have you ever read “A Princess of Mars?” If so how good is the adaptation? The previews looked very good. I am a big fan of Burroughs series of Barsoomian adventures.

dogsoldier on March 11, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I haven’t. From the description on Wikipedia, it looks like a few changes have taken place, mainly in the timing of events, but only a reader of Burroughs can make that particular call.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Okay, who besides me is curious to read the review Ed will give “The Three Stooges” when it comes out next month?

radjah shelduck on March 11, 2012 at 11:48 AM

Er … don’t hold your breath.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2012 at 11:52 AM

I had never read “The Princess of Mars “, so I found a 30 book collection of Edgar R Borroughs on Amazon for only $1.99. It had all 5 books of the Barsoon (Mars) series.
Now I understand all that Thern, Thark, Zadonga stuff.

barnone on March 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM

Dogsoldier, the movie departs a good amount from the books. Given that the book had a lot of subplots, they streamlined a lot of it. The tars tarkas subplot was dwindled down heavily, which is my main complaint. They also introduced a character from the next two books but it worked.

Movie was really fun though. If you liked the books, then you’ll probably enjoy seeing Burroughs world come alive.

Chubbs65 on March 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I had the same reaction you did Ed. I went in expecting it to be a disaster and was very pleasantly surprised.

bj1126 on March 11, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Thanks Ed.
I was unaware of what this film was about.
Now I’m intrigued & will make an effort to see it.

Badger40 on March 11, 2012 at 12:06 PM

I thought the author sounded familiar…

In 1912, a struggling businessman named Edgar Rice Burroughs—who, at age 35, had already worked as a rancher, soldier, and pencil-sharpener wholesaler—published his first story. Titled “Under The Moons Of Mars” and credited to “Norman Bean,” it introduced the character of John Carter, an ex-Confederate soldier transported from the American Southwest to Mars, where red-skinned humans; 15-foot-high, six-legged, green-skinned warriors; and other races vie to control the remains of a once-vibrant planet. That same year, Burroughs published Tarzan Of The Apes, the story of an Englishman raised in the jungle. Both characters have had long lives and developed considerable followings, though one’s fame has outstripped the other.

Fallon on March 11, 2012 at 12:09 PM

Oops, link to quoted paragraph here.

Fallon on March 11, 2012 at 12:10 PM

I agree, it’s got a swashbuckling hero, romance, a beautiful woman and lots of explosions. What more can you ask for? They definitely take some liberties, the Therns for example, are a somewhat different. But I’m one of those people who think quality is more important than slavishly following the book.

Fenris on March 11, 2012 at 12:11 PM

Saw the movie last night myself.

I’m a big Burroughs fan, I own nearly all the Tarzan books and all 10 Mars book (I don’t count the 1964 one that was one of those posthumous unfinished story businesses).

Stanton did a good job of capturing Barsoom’s feel and re-creating the elements of the world (creatures, locales, technology, and the general feeling of a dying world). The plot itself is a mix-and-match of a few of the books.

ERB was never high literature – he wrote serialized stories that were the reading equivalent of a Michael Bay movie in the 1910′s – fun to read, full of great imagery, simple stories of heroes and villians in fantastic settings.

The writing was bad, particularly the dialogue. The script was overlong, and included a lot of stuff that didn’t really make the movie better and served to stretch it.

And a really interesting thing about the movie – because it included things that were quite true to the source material, and the source material has been so heavily borrowed from over the years by other directors, it felt derivative – even though the story it’s based on was actually the original. Like I would internally roll my eyes and go “man, that’s so like Star Wars, or Avatar, or Conan” or whatever, but then I’d realize no, that was actually in the books and he’s just recreating it on the screen.

Anyway, it’s watchable, and it’s a bit of a fun spectacle. The scope of the movie means it’s one that’s enhanced by the big screen IMO. But I highly doubt it’s the beginning of some sort of monster franchise like the studio was hoping for.

Quantus on March 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I just started one of my boys reading the ERB Carter series on his Kindle, he was a bit put off by the first title “Princess of Mars” but has taken an interest in the story line.

So yeah, I’m sure I’ll be dragged to this flick, I won’t have any choice.

Bishop on March 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

I enjoyed this movie a ton. I wish they did Robert E. Howard movies as well as they did this film.

Crusty on March 11, 2012 at 12:13 PM

Glad to hear it was a decent flick.

I loved the Mars novels when I was a kid, read them again last year and they are still great reads.

ERB isn’t a stellar writer by any stretch, but he wove a great adventure tale that IMO still works from the pages today.

I always loved that John Carter (the literary character) was a pure gentleman (in the clasical sense) an honest man and a man of honor.

catmman on March 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM

I was raised on Edgar Rice Burroughs. My Dad started the addiction early. The golden age of SF is apparently 9 for me. Some of his stories have powerful writing, but my perspective as an adult has changes which novels I likes. His Moon Maid series is quite powerful.

all 5 books of the Barsoon (Mars) series.

barnone on March 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM

10 main novels and one novella collection.

The first three stories in the Barsoom series have a story arc starting from an ex-Confederate Cav leader looking for gold in the West. Indians corner him, and then the shift to Mars comes.

John Carter arrives naked, uninformed, and unarmed in a world of highly militaristic and decaying societies, fighting for basic resources.

From the trailer, I could see items from the end of the second book, The Gods of Mars, and some of the third book, Warlord of Mars.

Looks like the enemy to friendship arc of Tars Tharkas and John Carter is given little play. An earthling actress playing the incomparable Deja Thoris can never match the imagination of a 12 year old.

The airships look very different, as does the unit density of the battles. That’s todays GCI talking.
I want to see if the surrender of airships is done right. The Commanding Officer of a surrendering ship must leap from his airship to his doom carrying the flag of his nation.

Given that a movie naturally covers the scope of a novella, three novels compressed will give only the high points.
I’ll wait for the DVD.

NaCly dog on March 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM

But I highly doubt it’s the beginning of some sort of monster franchise like the studio was hoping for.

Quantus on March 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

From its box office thus far, you’re probably right.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2012 at 12:17 PM

I felt they rushed it a bit, trying to fit everything within a limited time frame. I’d have preferred they split this into two movies, that could have easily been done, but I understand why they didn’t.

But it was pretty darn good. The storyline was a bit rushed in my opinion though.

ButterflyDragon on March 11, 2012 at 12:25 PM

I read the books, more than once, found them enjoyable. The movie surprised me. It was a very good telling of the story. They did not make a hash of it as was done to the O’Brian books ( Master nd Commander; where they did not even get the name of the ships correct.).
I hope they bring the remaining books to the screen. Movies are not books, they do not replicate the book, they retells the story and John Carter does just that, it faithfully retells the story.

Dennis227 on March 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM

I read the whole series in my youth – the movie takes quite a bit of liberties with the novel, but they kept the basic characters intact.
Given the fact the original novel was written 1917, it was much more in line with Victorian values, so the emphasis was placed on chivalry, protecting women, and the nobility of the fighting man.
The movie makes the character of John Carter a little less honorable, a little more world-weary and looking for a cause to give his life meaning. The originals had him more direct and purposeful, more sure of his place in the world, and in my opinion, more heroic.
The story itself is only loosely based on the original novel, and the characters have been adapted beyond recognition (especially in the case of Deja Thoris, who plays the role of the damsel in distress in the novel, but is anything but in the movie).
There are 11 books in the series, and the characters and sequences in the movie draw heavily from the entire series – not just the first novel.

Given that, other than the typical Hollywood need to drag themes such as “Fighting is bad” (unless you’re fighting for a cause they approve of), “People are bad for the environment” and “Soldiers are brutish and dumb” into a movie (and they did a good job of keeping those themes to a minimum), the adaptation is quite good, and one could readily identify the key themes and characters if you’d read the novels.

If you’re expecting to see the novels in movie form, you’ll be disappointed, however.

RustMouse on March 11, 2012 at 12:28 PM

“A Princess of Mars”

So yeah, I’m sure I’ll be dragged to this flick, I won’t have any choice.

Bishop on March 11, 2012 at 12:12 PM

Not my cup of tea, but I am being badgered as well for this and the Lorax. I begged off on that 3-D gives me a headache and Skiiffy’s version of “Princess of Mars” is being recorded for when the little one gets home from church. Then her mother can take her to see Lorax and I get left alone.

cozmo on March 11, 2012 at 12:28 PM

I read the Princess of Mars series when I was a kid. As soon as I saw the title name and the movie trailer (with the multi armed green Martians), I hoped it would be as good as the books.

I won’t see it till next weekend in St. Cloud. My only issue so far is, why not “John Carter of Virginia”? Virginia is for lovers, patriots, soldiers of fortune AND interplanetary explorers!

Roy Rogers on March 11, 2012 at 12:34 PM

Too bad it’s DOA at the box office. I saw it with the wife Friday night. There were droves of kiddies with mom and dad seeing the Lorax but my screen had twenty five people tops seated for John Carter. That’s a shame too. I thought it was a good movie. Had JC come out six months post Avatar it would have been a mega-hit.

I will say this. John Carter is five times better than Phantom Menace. Same level of CGI but the acting and script are far superior!

Mr. Mike on March 11, 2012 at 12:40 PM

My favorite movie experience this year so far: Chronicles.

Jailbreak on March 11, 2012 at 12:46 PM

Well done and enjoyable!

I’ve read the novels countless times over the past 50 years (Some of them are available as downloads from the Gutenburg Project http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/ )

When I saw the trailers on television, I had misgivings and even posted a negative review (somewhere) a few months back. Like other comments, I went to this without my spouse and was quite pleased. I saw the 3D version, though the 3D effects were not too noticeable.

I did not like the tattoos, especially on Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). That being said, Collins was mesmerizing as the Martian Princess. In spite of her beauty, I’m glad the producers skipped the nude scenes called for in the books..they were not necessary for this show and would have added nothing to the movie.

They went a bit overboard on the leaping and strength of John Carter, but not a big deal. I wish they had worked in a cameo for Thuvia, closed with a shot of the royal egg, and had an ‘after-credits’ teaser like the Marvel movies. The Tharks were a bit thinner than I visualized and the speed of Woola bordered on comic.

I do look forward to sequels and other than Jurassic Park, this is the only movie I would willingly pay to see in the theater again (and buy the DVD when it comes out.)

xmanvietnam on March 11, 2012 at 12:47 PM

Having seen this and really enjoying it, NOW they need to remake “Dune” properly. It can be done.

clayj on March 11, 2012 at 12:48 PM

I’m hoping you’ll be seeing “Hunger Games” when it comes out on the 23rd, Ed. The trilogy was terrific.

JPeterman on March 11, 2012 at 12:51 PM

When I was a kid, my grandmother lived with my family for the last few years of her life (she had been a school teacher in England). I wasn’t crazy about it, since I had to give up my room for her, so I was a little resentful.

At that age (early teens) I had discovered a love for Science Fiction, and so one day I asked her if she had ever read any.

She told me about John Carter of Mars. I still remember sitting with her as she told me of the romance between Carter and the alien princess, and about Martian society…

It is my favourite memory of her, and one of the fondest memories of my childhood.

Johnny 100 Pesos on March 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM

Looks like a good film. I’ll have to see it. Thanks for the review.

Cowboys and Aliens was absolutely utterly horrible.

JellyToast on March 11, 2012 at 12:54 PM

So is this about right?

ERB:John Carter movie::Ayn Rand:Atlas Shrugged movie

BTW, as dubious as the movie version of ERB’s The Land That Time Forgot was, there was still a sequel. Here’s hoping John Carter gets good word of mouth like what Journey 2: The Mysterious Island got.

apostic on March 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM

This will hold me over until Prometheus is released.

roy_batty on March 11, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Cowboys and Aliens was absolutely utterly horrible.

JellyToast on March 11, 2012 at 12:54 PM

I enjoyed it but the story did not rise to the level of the actors in it. They could have saved those salaries, cast unknowns, hired better writers and, had a monster on their hands.

roy_batty on March 11, 2012 at 1:06 PM

This will hold me over until Prometheus is released.

There’s still some good stuff coming before Prometheus — although THAT will be MY #1 movie of the year, no doubt. Taking the entire day off and watching the midnight show on 6/7 and as many shows as I can on 6/8 (and 6/9, and 6/10). Ridley Scott is a cinematic SF god.

clayj on March 11, 2012 at 1:07 PM

It looks like a rental or a blind buy if I can find it for 15 bucks or less. I’ve heard the 3D post-conversion is a waste of time too. I wish more directors would shoot their films natively in 3D if they’re gonna be shown in theaters in that format. The only decent post-conversions I’ve seen are Alice In Wonderland and Captain America.

Doughboy on March 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Long time Edgar Rice Burroughs fan here, and I approve of the movie, like all movie adaptations there are variations but it wasn’t too bad in that regard.

It always surprises me when I hear that people have never heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs! I love his writing.

ShadowsPawn on March 11, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Bad marketing and not hiring a big name actor to star in a $250 million dollar movie are the reasons why this movie is going to be the new Waterworld.

RedRobin145 on March 11, 2012 at 1:14 PM

Cowboys and Aliens was absolutely utterly horrible.

JellyToast on March 11, 2012 at 12:54 PM

It would have been much better if Harrison Ford was acting like he was bored to death being in the movie. By far one of the worst performances I’ve ever seen from a big name actor.

Every scene he seemed entirely disinterested.

ButterflyDragon on March 11, 2012 at 1:15 PM

It always surprises me when I hear that people have never heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs! I love his writing.

ShadowsPawn on March 11, 2012 at 1:13 PM

All of his books are on Kindle and free over at Amazon.

JPeterman on March 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

There’s still some good stuff coming before Prometheus — although THAT will be MY #1 movie of the year, no doubt. Taking the entire day off and watching the midnight show on 6/7 and as many shows as I can on 6/8 (and 6/9, and 6/10). Ridley Scott is a cinematic SF god.

clayj on March 11, 2012 at 1:07 PM

You can go right down the rabbit hole on Prometheus. The viral marketing is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It starts with the
TED 2023 video and just keeps going.

At the Weyland Industries website, you can find a picture of Earth from space. There is only one animation, a blinking star. The star is blinking in Morse code, 6EQUJ5. Needless to say, I am stoked to see this film.

roy_batty on March 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

For roy_batty (or anyone else who might be interested):

Weyland Corp iPad wallpaper

Weyland-Yutani iPad wallpaper

clayj on March 11, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Well I loved the books way back in the darkages when I was in my teens. My problem is I will always picture the characters as Frazettz painted them for the covers. But maybe I can get past that and just enjoy the movie. For those not familiar with what I’m talking about just search Princess of Mars Frazetta and you’ll see.
But then I’m still waiting for an Elric movie. Or maybe Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser would be good too. LOL

Deanna on March 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I have not seen the movie, only the trailer!

You state “It has no foul language “. If God’s name in vain is not foul, what is?

I do not remember any foul language in any of Burrough’s novels, altho it has been many years since I have read one.

riplag on March 11, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Good review Ed. I think I’ll make an effort to watch it in the theater.

Has anyone else seen the commercials for the new re-release into theaters “Titanic” in 3-D?

Good Grief.

portlandon on March 11, 2012 at 1:31 PM

Ridley Scott rules!

Rusty Allen on March 11, 2012 at 1:33 PM

I saw John Carter on Friday and it was really good, don’t feel compelled to see it in 3D it’s not necessary to the experience.

Zekecorlain on March 11, 2012 at 1:37 PM

Man, that looks as bad as it . . . looks.

And by bad, I mean cheesy, chintzy, cheap, childish, and corny. (Sorry about the last one. Alliteration had to give way.)

keep the change on March 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM

Has anyone else seen the commercials for the new re-release into theaters “Titanic” in 3-D?

Good Grief.

portlandon on March 11, 2012 at 1:31 PM

That shouldn’t surprise anyone. Cameron announced that the moment Avatar became the biggest hit ever. At least it all but ensures Titanic(and hopefully a non-exclusive Avatar 3D release) will come out on Blu-ray later in the year.

Doughboy on March 11, 2012 at 1:38 PM

I kinda liked the 3d for this one.

Chubbs65 on March 11, 2012 at 1:44 PM

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. I even went to see it a second time.

It’s not really “A Princess of Mars” plot, but it gets enough right that I’m okay with it. I realize it’ll be the best adaptation I’ll probably ever see, and the Warhoon battle is ~quintessential~ John Carter and worth the price of admission alone, IMHO.

eforhan on March 11, 2012 at 1:47 PM

I had serious misgivings about seeing John Carter before I went to the theater last night.

Yeah….this one looks like it could go either way. Thanks for the review…..will definitely catch the movie.

(there is nothing out there right now)

Tim_CA on March 11, 2012 at 1:49 PM

I was unaware of what this film was about.
Now I’m intrigued & will make an effort to see it.

Badger40 on March 11, 2012 at 12:06 PM

Read the book first. It’s public domain and available in ebook form from several sources. First book in the series is “A Princess of Mars.”

Oldnuke on March 11, 2012 at 1:57 PM

As far as the books go, they mashed up the first two books, A Princess of Mars, and The Gods of Mars, and made a new(ish) story out of it.

I recently re-read the entire series as well. I went with a friend who had only read the first book years ago, and will say that I was able to follow it more than he was. They brought up a lot of concepts from the book but gave them short shrift (Sola/Thark society, rays, Therns). Some of those were important sub plots in the books (Sola especially), but they didn’t have the time to expand.

All in all I really enjoyed the movie, it was well done, and fun. The pacing was a bit off at times, and at 135 minutes it is a long one. I recommend it, especially if you are a fan of the series, they do do it justice.

kerncon on March 11, 2012 at 1:59 PM

But then I’m still waiting for an Elric movie. Or maybe Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser would be good too. LOL

Deanna on March 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM

Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser would have to play it big & wild for the sword fighting. Critics would likely, “It’s such a ripoff of _____” Do-able, but maybe not successful.

As for Elric, it’s probably too weird for mainstream movie producers. It took a lot of luck for Peter Jackson to get Lord of the Rings as a trilogy, and that was something easy like a magic ring; two magic swords and a god of Chaos? Dunno. Plenty of unfair laughs at the author’s name on that horizon. Biggest production it might get would likely be a SyFy Original. I’d rather it stayed at the BÖC level. Or maybe a possible anime if it hasn’t been done alreay. At least it might be done by people who get it.

apostic on March 11, 2012 at 2:00 PM

Long time Edgar Rice Burroughs fan here, and I approve of the movie, like all movie adaptations there are variations but it wasn’t too bad in that regard.

It always surprises me when I hear that people have never heard of Edgar Rice Burroughs! I love his writing.

ShadowsPawn on March 11, 2012 at 1:13 PM

Read my first Burroughs book in the 50s. Just re-read about half the Barsoom series with the rest waiting on my reader. Just sent my hardback copy of “A Princess of Mars” to my Grandson. His father read that very book when he was a boy as did his older brother and his younger sister.

Oldnuke on March 11, 2012 at 2:03 PM

I haven’t. From the description on Wikipedia, it looks like a few changes have taken place, mainly in the timing of events, but only a reader of Burroughs can make that particular call.

Ed Morrissey on March 11, 2012 at 11:50 AM

Thank you for posting your review.

Dogsoldier, the movie departs a good amount from the books. Given that the book had a lot of subplots, they streamlined a lot of it. The tars tarkas subplot was dwindled down heavily, which is my main complaint. They also introduced a character from the next two books but it worked.

Movie was really fun though. If you liked the books, then you’ll probably enjoy seeing Burroughs world come alive.

Chubbs65 on March 11, 2012 at 11:55 AM

I’m looking forward to it! Thank you for the update.

dogsoldier on March 11, 2012 at 2:03 PM

It looks good Ed,and a nice write-up I might add!:)

canopfor on March 11, 2012 at 2:15 PM

But then I’m still waiting for an Elric movie. Or maybe Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser would be good too. LOL

Deanna on March 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM

I’m waiting impatiently for those as well.

ShadowsPawn on March 11, 2012 at 2:21 PM

My son (11) and I watched it yesterday.

Great movie and spot-on review, Ed!

VibrioCocci on March 11, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Not so sure…recent movies are just so…over the top. The heroes are all like Epic level D&D characters going up against a bunch of goblins, orcs, and bugbears (as you can see, this is coming from a nerd). I know JC is supposed to be strong and have some jump to him, but the previews make me think “over kill.”

Part of what made the original SW trilogy so fun was the limited use of the force and its mystery as opposed to the Episode I’s over-use of the force making it cheap and stupid.

Pattosensei on March 11, 2012 at 3:07 PM

I went and saw John Carter yesterday. Like Ed, my wife took a pass on it because it was in the Conan genre (definitely not a chick flick). Like Ed, I found that it surpassed expectations. I think that part of the problem is the marketing. The trailers have been horrible. They have focused on some of the worst parts of the CGI in the movie – when Carter kills the white ape in the arena with the boulder on a chain just looks silly. That said, the characters are very good. While you may look at the Tharks and think Jar Jar Binks, they actually have very well developed characters. Kitsch does a fine job as Carter, and the scenes when he is learning how to move around Barsoom are excellent. Lynn Collins is gorgeous and a talented actress – Ed mentioned Wolverine, but I first saw her as Portia in Pacino’s A Merchant in Venice. The rest of the cast is surprisingly well cast, with Mark Strong as his standard superior bad guy.
There was a good balance of action, suspense and humor. Hopefully, this will make enough money to justify a return to Barsoom.

Spike72AFA on March 11, 2012 at 3:14 PM

Deanna writes about Frank Frazetta’s painting of the book cover for A PRINCESS OF MARS. This cover was done in the early 1970s for Doubleday’s Science Fiction Book Club, where I worked as a copywriter. I had the privilege of meeting Frank Frazetta and seeing several of his original paintings, including the one for A PRINCESS OF MARS. He was a wonderful talent and, handed a piece of paper and a pen, could draw anything requested on the spot. The movie sounds like a lot of fun.

Hermeticus on March 11, 2012 at 3:46 PM

O/T…..Salutey,Canop tips his tea-cup for
a long and courageous deployment!!
———————————-

World’s 1st nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise makes final deployment

Submitted 4 mins ago from http://www.washingtonpost.com
http://www.breakingnews.com/
=============================

World’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Enterprise
Makes Final Deployment
Updated: Sunday, March 11,3:23 PM
**********************************

NORFOLK, Va. — The USS Enterprise has set sail on its final voyage.

Officials say the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which was featured in the film “Top Gun,” left Norfolk, Va., around noon on Sunday.
(More…)
==========

http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/worlds-first-nuclear-powered-aircraft-carrier-uss-enterprise-makes-final-deployment/2012/03/11/gIQAhGHb5R_story.html

canopfor on March 11, 2012 at 3:54 PM

canopfor on March 11, 2012 at 3:56 PM

They should have done the first three books, which are a coherent trilogy, in three films like “Lord of the Rings”.

“A Princess of Mars”, “The Gods of Mars” and “The Warlord of Mars” together tell a total story with similar scope to Tolkien’s and need that range to give full weight to the interlocking intrigues and interplays of John Carter learning a world’s age-old conflicts and his ultimate battle to free a planet locked in the thrall of an ancient, utterly corrupt religious tyranny. A cult enslaving every race on Mars and enriching a gang of elitist scum keeping every other race pawns to a monstrous delusion while preying on their dreams of Paradise and vampirizing their last hope of salvation.

Pretty damned profound for a 1911 sword and sorcery romance.

The trilogy is worth a read.

(Though all of the Mars sequels have their own amazing inventiveness -brain transplants, living tissue grown in vats, mentally-controlled biogenic computers, etc., etc.- and Burroughs’ signature love of life, value of honor, and dry sense of humor.)

I’ll be buying a large popcorn and hoping for the best with this flick.

profitsbeard on March 11, 2012 at 4:11 PM

I loved this movie, and I must have read the series a hundred times as a young child.

My tween girl loved it. My teenage sons loved it. My husband, an engineer who has never read the series, loved it too. You simply must see it.

Ed, you didn’t mention the wonderful grace notes of comedy throughout. Like Die Hard, you’re laughing at the same time that your palms are sweating.

Oh, and we all agreed we want our own Woola. I’ve wanted one since I was nine, and now my kids know about them too. What joy!

bonnie_ on March 11, 2012 at 4:15 PM

A couple of points of clarification. I’ve never read the Burroughs novels, so I can’t judge how well the filmmakers adapted the source material, although I’d be curious to hear from Burroughs readers to get their reaction.

I read the book, which should suprise no one given my name, and it did not have the gravity of Mars so light that John Carter could almost fly. The gravity of Mars in reality is about half that of Earth, not 1/1,000. But it was a good movie, far better than 95% of what Hollywood produces which is crap.

Carthoris on March 11, 2012 at 4:47 PM

John Carter is good for those unfamiliar with the books, and GREAT for kids. But for those who’ve read and liked the books, see John Carter immediately! It is absolutely faithful in spirit to the Barsoom books, and successfully recreates almost all of what we’ve seen in our minds’ eyes while reading the novels. Plus the movie dialog doesn’t make us cringe the way the novels’ dialog does.

And bonnie is absolutely right about the comedy. John Carter is wonderful in every way save that Taylor Kitsch is not strong enough for his role. Lynn Collins sure is as Dejah Thoris.

Tom_Holsinger on March 11, 2012 at 4:47 PM

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Saw it Friday night with my eldest son, in IMAX 3D. I highly recommend going that route. The 3D was the best I’ve seen. It was better than Avatar, which I enjoyed for the effects, if not for the story line. One thing I noticed right away is that the 3D glasses for IMAX are different than the usual fare. I’d heard in the past that IMAX-3D was next-gen stuff, and it definitely seemed that way for JC.

And Lynn Collins was major-league HAWT. She’d be sexy in a burlap sack, much less the gorgeous outfits she graced the screen with. ;-)

I’m really hoping this turns into a franchise. If the producers attack the rest of the stories with the same rigor and passion as they did Princess of Mars, and manage to hold onto the main characters, then they could make a boatload of money in the next decade, and provide some stellar entertainment for us sci-fi buffs.

nukemhill on March 11, 2012 at 4:57 PM

Why doesn’t someone make a movie of Ezekiel 38 or Zehcariah 12~14. Now I’d pay to see that! Although we may be watching it for free very soon.

flameofjudah on March 11, 2012 at 4:59 PM

I read the entire JC series as a 10 year old boy, and I still read them to this day, 31 years later.

They are, plainly, epic.

fossten on March 11, 2012 at 5:07 PM

Great flick. Family enjoyed it.

I will see it again on the big screen, so that speaks volumes.

Robert Jensen on March 11, 2012 at 5:57 PM

Okay, just had to add from a woman’s perspective that Taylor whats-is-name is perfect as John Carter. Carter is not a brute, he’s an elegant Virginia swordsman. He’s light and quick on his feet and has always appeared young (part of the mystique of the series is that Carter is ageless.) So this actor was perfectly cast and he’s got great comedic timing. That’s rare for someone with those abs. Heh.

bonnie_ on March 11, 2012 at 6:36 PM

It was an awesome movie. I didn’t expect much but it’s easily one of my top ten favorite movies of all time. And that’s WITH all six Star Wars movies on the list. I’m dragging my boyfriend to see it the first chance I get, lol.

Cyhort on March 11, 2012 at 7:10 PM

All of his books are on Kindle and free over at Amazon.

JPeterman on March 11, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Thanks for the info about the books. Read as a kid years and beers ago they got me hooked on reading. Downloaded them tonight looking forward to reading them again.

warren on March 11, 2012 at 7:59 PM

but the previews make me think “over kill.”

Pattosensei on March 11, 2012 at 3:07 PM

The white apes in the book are “ten or fifteen” feet tall. In the movie they are 20 plus feet tall.

From where Carter first meets them — in a room of an abandoned and unnamed city — a city once built by the ancestors of the red Martians — one might expect that they would be closer to 10 feet in size than to 15.

I can see a six foot man disabling a 10 foot tall ape with a blow to the jaw, but not a 20 footer.

That said, one thing the LA Times reviewer noted with incredulity was John Carter’s ineptness in dealing with his new found strength upon arrival. That, of course, is a scene which is true to the book. In the book, the first time he’s in a building, he keeps bashing himself on furniture, much to the amusement of the green Martians around him. One takes excessive liberties with Carter’s bumbling, and, in the ensuing very quick fight, teaches all of the others a valuable lesson.

The Times review was panning the movie by relating incidents in it which I found to be harmonious with the original book.

I’m not one to go see a movie (I hate how my feet stick to the floor from all of the old Coke, and I hate people talking about the movie on their cellphones while its running, but maybe I’ll make an exception for this one, based on Ed’s review.

unclesmrgol on March 11, 2012 at 8:40 PM

It was a fun movie and I’m happy I saw it in 3-d. Usually can’t stand the cutsie mass-marketable creatures in movies like this (Ewoks), but the gila monster dog had me cooing the entire film. Mark Strong’s mug is really starting to bore me and I thought the leads were poorly matched with no sexual chemistry. It was much better than expected, though.

sparkle motion on March 11, 2012 at 8:48 PM

Now if we can just get someone to take on the Horseclans series.

Knott Buyinit on March 11, 2012 at 8:53 PM

but John Carter actually works better than that movie, thanks to the literary foundation given to it by Edgar Rice Burroughs

Literary foundation!? Literary foundation?? by Edgar Rice Burroughs!? You don’t seriously believe the stuff Burroughs churned out was literary? Really?

But the John Carter books were great fun when I read them in middle school and high school. All ten of them. I also read his Carson of Venus and, of course about half of the twenty or thirty Tarzan books. The Venus series had plenty of nearly naked babes princesses and even more large, hungry, slobbering monsters to slay before Carson could even begin to think about getting out alive, to say nothing of rescuing the babe princess.

A. C. on March 12, 2012 at 12:13 AM

It looks like a rental or a blind buy if I can find it for 15 bucks or less. I’ve heard the 3D post-conversion is a waste of time too. I wish more directors would shoot their films natively in 3D if they’re gonna be shown in theaters in that format. The only decent post-conversions I’ve seen are Alice In Wonderland and Captain America.
Doughboy on March 11, 2012 at 1:10 PM

Indeed. Phantom Menance 3D was not worth the price of admission. Definately will not see any more star wars 3d crap. Am looking forward to this, Prometheus and Battleship

AH_C on March 12, 2012 at 12:50 AM

I give movie reviewers (and wannabe’s) about 10% consideration when I’m considering on which movie to spend my limited entertainment dollars. I tend to consider the reaction of more common folk, like myself, over those with a desire to sound smart and sophisticated. Years ago I let a reviewer influence me into going to see the movie Julia. I still weep for those two hours lost.
Never again.

swinia sutki on March 12, 2012 at 7:56 AM

A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, was the first fantasy novel I ever went bonkers over. I bought the 1979 Del Rey publication that had the Boris Vallejo art on it. Star Wars was a big thing at the time, but after reading A Princess of Mars, I was certain Hollywood could do the effects, even then.

It became apparent that Hollywood wasn’t interested. I became convinced that this was a novel that would never see the big screen. I saw a preview of a SciFi movie just a couple of years ago that was a crude attempt to make this novel a made-for TV movie. Taking a cue from all the other SciFi movie creations I had seen to date, I didn’t think I could watch it, and passed.

When I saw Disney was making John Carter, I’ll admit I was a little wary as well, but this was the same company that produced Jules Vernes 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea into the instant classic almost 60 years ago! I would check online occasionally just to see how things were going, sometimes skeptical, sometimes worried, and then… I started to get excited over the film.

This last Saturday when I bought my movie ticket, I told the girl behind the counter, “I’ve been waiting for this movie for 33 years.” Her expression belied everything, I was one of those weirdos who had completely lost his mind. I bought my Mr. Pibb at the counter, got my 3D glasses from the kid at the podium and walked into the theatre.

I wasn’t disappointed.

Turtle317 on March 12, 2012 at 9:21 AM

I saw it Saturday with my mother. I haven’t read the books, but my mom had. We both loved it. It was great pure escapist entertainment. Just what I want from a movie.

Saw it in 2D. I don’t do 3D (motion sickness).

dmn1972 on March 12, 2012 at 9:50 AM

It has no … nudity — a few skimpy outfits for Collins

And that is a John Carter fail right from the beginning. I might go see it, but (as a big John Carter of Mars fan) I expect to be at least partially disappointed.

GWB on March 12, 2012 at 10:33 AM

I read all the books and stories as a kid and I loved this movie. They changed some things but not in a way that made me upset. Good stuff, especially if you enjoy the old sci-fi pulp of yonder past.

No nudity isn’t a big deal as I am neither a pervert nor am imbecile.

Sammo21 on March 12, 2012 at 11:13 AM

My two brothers and I who had read the books along with my husband, my dad, and my stepmom who had not read them went on Saturday. We all liked it. I thought they went a little over the top with Carter’s ability to jump so high he could practically fly, and Mars moons would not actually look so big on Mars as they are not as big as Earth’s moon, but still, it was good. The effects were good and the story was pretty faithful to the feel of the books.

I would go again to see it in 3D just to see if it is better.

Lily on March 12, 2012 at 11:17 AM

I would go again to see it in 3D just to see if it is better.

Lily on March 12, 2012 at 11:17 AM

Phobos would appear to be about 1/3 the size of our moon as seen from the surface of Mars at the equator. Deimos would appear a bit larger than venus does to us.

swinia sutki on March 12, 2012 at 11:26 AM

Hollywood already attempted a low budget film based on the novels call “Princess of Mars” back in 2009 that was a flop.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1531911/

As one who has actually read the books years ago I look forward to seeing this one because it seems to be more in line with the books than the flop one was.

JeffinSac on March 12, 2012 at 11:32 AM

This one hit the spot, saw it this weekend with my 14 year old son. He is now on a quest for the books…nuff said.

serenity on March 12, 2012 at 11:46 AM

I had not read any of the series, so I listened to them a week before with Librivox audiobooks. That filled in the background nicely. I was not disappointed with the changes, and understood they would have to cut quite a bit.

I saw this on opening day in Imax 3-D, and it was an awesome spectacle, and of course the sound was incredible. A couple days later I took my wife to see it in 2-D. I joked that it was a romance… She also enjoyed it, as I did the second time too, although it was not as immersive, it was still great.

Paul_W on March 12, 2012 at 12:23 PM

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