Village Voice John Carter Review: “A lively, visually crafty pleasure.”

GoBarsoom Media Campaign

From the Village Voice:  With expectations to match its obscenely huge budget (an estimated quarter of a billion dollars), this long-delayed adaptation of pulp meisterEdgar Rice Burroughs‘s 1917 sci-fi swashbucklerA Princess of Mars has every right to be a bloated, gutless CGI eyesore. What a surprise, then, that John Carter—leaden title and punishing running time be damned—is a lively, visually crafty pleasure. The story concerns the late-19th-century adventures of reclusive Civil War vet and pacifist Carter (Friday Night Lightspanty-dampener Taylor Kitsch, charming but flat), who’s inexplicably transported to Mars (“Barsoom” to the natives) and reluctantly drawn into another conflict. Before you can say “Tim Riggins in space,” Carter acquires superpowers, buddies up with a race of four-armed, big green men, falls in love with the heiress apparent (Lynn Collins) of a matriarchal society, and gets a dog, more or less.

Any action-inclined moviegoer has already absorbed loads of the extraterrestrial gladiator-cum-cowboy trappings of Burroughs’s Marsseries—he published nearly a dozen Carter books over 25 years. The achievement of John Carter is that it takes the elements worn to nubs by everything from Star Wars to Avatar to TV’sFringe and makes them fresh again. Credit goes to director Andrew Stanton (WALL-EFinding Nemo) and his co-screenwriters Michael Chabonand Mark Andrews (like Stanton, a Pixarregular), who have a clear regard for Burroughs’s pulp ethic, creaky and racially suspect as it is (the green Martians remain simple-living savages compared to the more advanced, white humanoid ones), and the smarts to infuse it with disarming, condescension-free levity.

Disney‘s dedication to getting maximum bang for its special-effects buck deserves mention, too, despite the studio having spent enough here to, oh, end world hunger. Having been a Tarzan kid myself, I can’t vouch for the movie’s fidelity to its source, but if you find yourself drawn into the thing, it’s beside the point anyway.


  • I always stay for the credits because I want to see the people who made the movie. I was blown away by the job descriptions.

  • That’s especially true in a film of this type — over 1000 crew members and no megastar walking away with 50m.

  • You know it’s funny to me… how there’s always such a huge deal made of the cost this film, (enough to end world hunger) but no one ever takes into account that there are thousands of people WITH JOBS as films get made. It’s not like that money is being thrown away into some unknown abyss and it has no benefit to the economy or to people in general. It’s jobs! It’s food on tables, mortgages paid and people NOT on welfare! Anyway, I just wish they’d shut up about it. It only sours otherwise great reviews like this one.

    My 2 cents…

Leave a Reply