by Josie Campbell. Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar director Andrew Stanton take audiences to Mars with John Carter, a live-action epic based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ pulp classic A Princess of Mars. A genuinely fun film, John Carter is infused with Pixar pep, devoid of the big-budget cynicism plaguing many modern adventure movies.
Our story begins with young Edgar Rice Burroughs (played by Daryl Sabara of Spy Kids), the nephew of John Carter who’s called on to administer his uncle’s Virginia estate after his unexpected death. There, Burroughs discovers that his uncle’s will contains the story of his enigmatic past as the film jumps back to the 1860s, where ex-Confederate Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) searches for a fabled cave of gold in the Arizona hills. After a series of scrapes with U.S. cavalry officer Colonel Powell (Bryan Cranston), a squadron of soldiers and an alien, Carter is accidentally transported to Mars. Captured by the Tharks, 10-foot-tall, four-armed Green Martian warriors, Carter quickly becomes their No. 1 prisoner/pet/source of entertainment. With the assistance of Thark leader Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), gentle Sola (Samantha Morton) and adorable Woola (a gigantic Martian dog with more charisma than should be possible from a CG creature), Carter begins to learn just how far he’s mistakenly come.