Director Andrew Stanton’s Disney extravaganza is a rather charming pastiche, if perhaps not one with sufficient excitement and razzle-dazzle to justify the reported $250 million production budget.
If Avatar had never existed, it’s possible that John Carter would have seemed like more of a genre breakthrough, given the premise of a distant planet penetrated by an Earthling who begins an inter-planetary romance and is ultimately accepted into the alien culture (Mars here even has a huge arboreal structure at the heart of things). But echoes resonate from many other sources as well: What came first, the Jedi of Star Wars or the Jeddak leaders here? Was Taylor Kitsch‘s buff loincloth look inspired by how good Charlton Heston looked similarly attired in Planet of the Apes? Doesn’t John Carter’s background consist of one part Outlaw Josey Wales and one part Indiana Jones? And doesn’t the specter of the ancient Greeks noticeably hover over the everlasting battles being fought among the various neighbors?