From the Harvard Crimson: In the months leading up to its release, Disney’s “John Carter” seemed to have a lot going for it. The film’s director and critics’ darling Andrew Stanton was fresh off “Toy Story 3,” the latest in a long line of mostly Stanton-written Pixar hits. The source material, a sequence of stories written by early twentieth-century novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs, boasted an author also responsible for “Tarzan” and a long series of sequels providing ready-made material for an ongoing fantasy franchise. It looked like Disney had set the stage for another “Pirates of the Caribbean”-sized hit.
And “John Carter” is, for the most part, the film its source material and creative team promised it could be: a light-footed fantasy with Pixar charm and Tarzan cheese. And that’s enough to make it one of the most fun—and, if early receipts are any indication, likely one of the most under-appreciated—films of the year.
John Carter himself, in danger of suffering from faceless-hero syndrome at the hands of the relatively unknown Taylor Kitsch is at first as blandly heroic as he is generically handsome. However, “John Carter” comes to life when the protagonist travels from a cave in the Wild West to the plains of Mars, where he quickly discovers the superpower that makes him a hot commodity among the kingdoms of the red planet: jumping really, really high. The movie makes light of this talent—especially laughable because of over-powered superheroes made famous since the time of Burroughs’s novels—and so shows some good-spirited self-awareness.