by Patrick Campbell. For over a hundred years, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ eleven book ‘Barsoom’ series, which began with ‘A Princess of Mars’, has been an inspiration for many of our most well known science fiction films, and has become a small staple of popular culture. Things like ‘Star Wars’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Flash Gordon’, ‘Buck Rogers’ as well as authors like Ray Bradbury and Arthur C. Clarke have all been inspired by Burroughs and his many characters and their adventures on the planet Barsoom, or as we know it as, Mars. But no character from the serious has become more popular over time than John Carter, the hero of many of Burroughs’ ‘Barsoom’ novels. Hollywood has spent many years of attempting to bring John Carter and Barsoom to the big screen, and now Academy award winning director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall-e) and Walt Disney Pictures have worked together to finally give this series it’s due on the big screen. Stanton has managed to bring the incredible world Burroughs envisioned all those years ago to the big screen in a true pulp fiction style adventure that fans and newcomers alike will fall in love with. This is science fiction, as well as action and adventure, at it’s finest.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a once Confederate soldier, is a man with nothing to lose. He dreams of finding a gold in the Arizona territory so he can spend the rest of his days as a rich man. But in the midst of a struggle with some Apache Indians, Carter finds himself transported to new world known as Barsoom, or as he knows it as, Mars. Because of the gravity differences, Carter is now stronger, faster, and can jump higher than anyone else on the planet, which makes him a target as an ally for some, such as Prince Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), or an enemy for others. But Carter soon realizes there is more happening on Barsoom than some may realize, and finds that he may the only person who can save the planet and it’s people from complete destruction.
For Stanton being a first time live action director, he absolutely nails it. ‘John Carter’ has been Stanton’s passion project for a long time, and it really shows. Being a huge fan of the source material, he makes sure that this is a movie that fans of the series will come to love and embrace, while also catering to an audience who may not be familiar with the material or the character. But the most important thing he did is take material that’s been borrowed from so heavily over the century and make it new, exciting, and fresh. Sure, we’ve seen stories like this many times before, but this is also the original, so it’s hard to fault the film for that. He’s taken a plot that has been so heavily borrowed from before and made it incredibly fun, and you forget that you may have seen things similar to it before. Stanton finds the perfect balance between action and character development, which is something many directors seem to miss. The action, while not long, is great, especially considering it’s Stanton’s first live action film. It’s well spread out throughout the film, but the moments without it are never boring. Fora movie that’s two hours and twenty minutes long, that’s a build deal. The breaks in action are used to really get to know the characters and their struggles, as well as what makes them tick and what motivates them. Stanton wants to make sure you know these characters, and that you care about them. If you don’t, then this movie wouldn’t work.