John Carter Review: An Unabashed Endorsement from a Burroughs Fan (who could have hated it)

Other Stuff

Note:  This comes from a serious ERB fan so there will be those who say, well, he’s biased.  Answer: Yes, biased, but not like you may think. There is great debate among Burroughs hardcore as to whether Stanton has adhered adequately to the original.  This review is posted no so much because it is a credible “general review”, as it is posted for the benefit of  ERB fans who are skeptical of Andrew Stanton (or not) ….For the rest of you, there is some value here, but I just wanted to make sure you see the context. Dotar 


I went to an advance screening of JOHN CARTER.


Holy Living *beep* The bar on science fiction and fantasy movies has officially been raised.

I expected to come from seeing the movie with my head full of comparisons to all the things Burroughs original novel helped inspire: STAR WARS, AVATAR, FLASH GORDON, etc. Understandably so, as I’m so much more familiar with all of them. That is exactly what didn’t happen though. Put simply; if STAR WARS is a kids’ science fiction movie franchise that adults enjoy (and it is), then JOHN CARTER is an adult science fiction movie that kids will enjoy.

JC was such an immersive experience. Every moment reveals something new about Mars, about the exotic alien races and cultures that call it home, or about their individual characters. James Cameron’s AVATAR showed us a world we’ve never seen before and it was wondrous to behold, but Andrew Stanton’s JOHN CARTER is a movie so rich with detail that it left me feeling like I had been somewhere. JOHN CARTER feels like nothing so much as if David Lean had made an science fiction epic of love and war on Mars.

To the ERB faithful, please relax. Yes, there are changes from the novel. No, they are not the arbitrary changes made in inferior movie adaptations where the filmmaker just wants to do his/her own ideas. Every change is made to tell Burroughs’ story or reveal some aspect of Burroughs’ characters in a way more befitting a movie instead of a novel.

Going into this I had absurdly high expectations. A friend of mine told me he was worried the movie wouldn’t live up to them and that frankly I was starting to sound a little crazy. Well, the movie went and exceeded my expectations. I love it, and give it a 10/10. I’m definitely going to see it at least six times in the theater. And buy a Blu-Ray player to watch it at home.


  • ERic –

    From the novel::
    “The lesser hordes had commenced looting and quarelling among themselves, so it was decided that we collect what warriors we could, man as many vessels as possible with Zodangan prisoners, and make for Helium…
    …The vessels carrying our green warriors were kept circling above the contending fleets of Helium and Zodanga, since their batteries were useless in the hands of the Tharks who, having no navy, have no skill in Naval gunnery. Their small arm fire, however, was most effective…”

    The Tharks didn’t fly the Zodangan Navy in the book, they were carried aboard as marksmen and delivered as ground troops, according to Burroughs. They weren’t even operating the ships guns, much less piloting the actual fleet, because
    that would have been completely ludicrous to anyone who isn’t a child.

    It’s the difference between a stroke of believable tactical brilliance, and a cheap movie plot contrivance.

    As for rewriting all the characters —
    I would prefer John Carter to be John Carter, Tars Tarkas to be Tars Tarkas, and Sola to be Sola.
    I don’t consider their personalities to be interchangeable at will. You and Stanton feel they are, cool.
    Agree to disagree.

    From the Novelization::
    “Grimacing, Sab Than pulled a disc from his belt… the familiar blue energy leaped up out of it, weaving itself into a sharp, glowing sword…
    “…and then Sab Than was upon him, furious, swinging his deadly blue nanoblade. Carter ducked behind a pillar, and Sab’s blade sliced through it like butter.”

    Call it what you will, that sounds like a lightsaber rip-off to me. Hopefully it’s not in the actual movie.

    —-To everyone else, glad to hear the review is verifiable – I just wish it had done more to support the praise.

  • tharks piloting the zodangan navy all alone . . . how is that any different from the book – _ –

    seriously, I guess it was only okay when burroughs did it.

    Solas story was re-purposed for Tars Tarkas, as Tars Tarkas’ story had been re-purposed with John Carter. So they wouldnt have an identical story.

    and honest to god, I like what it does with Tars Tarkas’ character, and I feel like he reacts appropriate for the situation with the proper personality.

    and what the hell is this about a lightsaber – _ –

  • I just saw the movie as well at an advanced screening, and as someone who is NOT an ERB fan (or I should say, simply someone who never read any of the books or any of his other stuff), I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed it — more so than I thought I would. Having not read the books, I can’t comment on whether it stays “true” or not, I have no idea. But I honestly enjoyed it quite a bit. You can believe me or not or think I’m a Disney plant, I don’t really care… the movie will be out soon enough and you can all see for yourselves. But I decided to google tonight to see if other people who had seen the advance screenings commented on them, and found this page here, and thought I’d add my 2 cents. We all had to sign non-disclosure agreements before seeing the movie so I can’t (and won’t) post any spoilers or anything about the movie, except simply that as someone who is NOT a particular fan, I really liked it (more than I thought I would). I passed a few John Carter billboards today on the freeway (ones showing the two white ape thingies) and was thinking “why would anyone see this movie based on those billboards?” But whatever. I think Disney’s problem will be getting people to actually SEE the movie. Once they do, I really think they’ll enjoy it, and soon enough sites like rotten tomatoes will reflect that. Everyone in the theater seemed to like it too, and if Disney was smart, they’d have open, advanced screenings in theaters this weekend and next. What I don’t understand though, is why they’re not releasing this kind of movie in the summer, where it belongs. Why early March? But whatever.

    Again, I’m sure most of you will dismiss this post, it doesn’t really matter to me. As I said, it’ll be out soon enough anyway for you all to make your own decisions. But for what it’s worth, I did see it (in 3D actually — I was surprised they’d do an advance screening in 3D) and I really enjoyed it. I’ll take my relatives to see it when it comes out.

  • @munango-keewati Dragging didn’t work on my iPhone 4s because it just moves the screen. But by simply tapping on the correct icon, it automatically dropped it on the other side. Maybe that’ll work on yours.

  • If the film actually contains a blue lightsaber, that’s really sad and unnecessary. How can we claim that JC is the original if Stanton has knowingly borrowed so much from the descendants of JC? You’d expect more from Oscar and Pulitzer winners.

    Dotar: The new “drag the ___ to the ___” widget doesn’t work on a Kindle Fire and thus probably not on other mobile devices. And why on earth am I dragging a knife to the bathroom (other than to comply with Rule 9)?

  • He’s a real human being whom we know so we can vouch, it’s legit. I think that with all the word-of-mouth screenings that are happening now we are getting beyond the point where attention-seekers will try to claim they saw it when they haven’t. But in any event — this is 100% certified real. The author is a regular on the IMDB message board and is known to us personally. Rebecca Garland who is active here also knows him.

  • I was excited to read this, seeing the headline. Disappointed once I did, and there’s more than a hint of photosynthesis about it.

    Skeptically speaking, anyone could have written this by reading interviews about Disney John Carter. There are no details to suggest the reviewer knows the books or the film, and no effort is made to address the many known changes made by Stanton just to add his own ideas: (nanotechnology, floating superTherns, no AtmoFactory, travel to Mars via jewelry, Tharks piloting the entire Zodangan Navy alone – without training of any kind, omitting Sola’s Story, Sab Than’s blue lightsaber, Tardos Mors sheepishly agreeing to sell his (grand)daughter away, Carter’s inexplicable goal being to get back to his nothing of a life on Earth instead of getting Dejah to safety, his dead family, etc.)

    This review miiiight be legit, but it’s not very informative or convincing. It does nothing to explain how or why the reviewer thought changing practically every plot-point worked better Stanton’s way than Burroughs’.

Leave a Reply