John Carter Review: “A perfect return to pulp fiction adventure and science fiction. 10/10”

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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.

Read the rest at In the Name of the Geek


  • Thanks, Dotar for the kind words. And thanks for posting my review, really made me happy when I found out, so thank you for that. 🙂

    Like I said, I really won’t stick up for Disney just cause I work at one of the theme parks. As far as I’m concerned, the studio is having a lot of problems right now, and my twitter is full of my rants about it. So I stand by what I said. Thanks again. 🙂

  • Hi Patrick,
    Thanks for weighing in with that. MCR is an often grumpy fellah who is a big Burroughs fan (as am I) and has a lot of issues/complaints with changes to the story by Andrew Stanton. I think some of that irritation spilled over into his comments about your review. I’m glad you set the record straight. I have had to deal with something similar with people who think that because this site is “The John Carter Files” that I’m a shill for Disney. I’m not – maybe I’m a “shill” for Edgar Rice Burroughs, but not Disney. I support the film no matter whether I love it or not because it will introduce a new generation of readers to ERB. But when I think Disney’s being stupid I give them some tough love and when I review the film I’ll do so fairly and honestly. Anyway …. it’s all good.

  • Just because I work for Disney doesn’t mean anything. I’ll be the first to admit when they drop the ball. So don’t act like just because I work for them that I give them a pass. Because that isn’t the case.

    I am looking at these in purely entertaining aspects. I’ll admit the Transformers films aren’t always amazing, but they’re pure entertainment, and Pirates 4 was a step above the other two sequels. But John Carter is actually an excellent movie. Just really, really well done. And you don’t have to believe me. That’s fine. But don’t call my review into question because I work at Disneyland. Working at a theme park means nothing if I’m talking about a movie, be it a Disney park or not. I tried to bring you an early review, from a huge fans perspective. I’m sorry it doesn’t live up to that for you.

  • Hi MCR,

    As a matter of fact if you had scrolled down you would have seen that the article directly under this review was the review by Kim Newman that you cite. We posted the Kim Newman review at 2:25PM, and posted the Paul Campbell review at 4:15PM.


  • I guess you missed the part where he says he works at Disneyland and gave Pirates of the Caribbean 4 8.5 and Transformers 3 a 9. I don’t want to rain on the parade but could we get someone with a little more critical sense like Kim Newman-who at least knows a good movie and isn’t working for the Mouse?

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