John Carter Review: “A lavish, beautifully made fantasy adventure”

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PLOT: A Civil-War vet, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is magically plucked from our world, and transported to Barsoom- aka Mars, which is being ravaged by an evil warlord named Sab Than (Dominic West) who’s under the control of a race of ancient, all-powerful beings, led by Matai Shang (Mark Strong). Carter allies himself with a warlike race called the Tarks, which are eight-foot tall green creatures, ruled by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) in order to find a way home, but he must also contend with a headstrong princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) who’s trying to escape her forced marriage to Than, and believes he’s the man to save her and her people.

REVIEW: Well, it’s finally here. After a development process that went into decades, the long-awaited film adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” finally makes its way to the silver screen. Disney’s put at least $250 Million into what it hopes will be the start of a new billion dollar franchise, but is the end result worth all the bother?

While I don’t know that any film is worth a quarter of a billion dollars (and that’s not even counting P&A), JOHN CARTER is quite a good film. It’s a lavish, beautifully made fantasy adventure, and once certainly can’t accuse the producers, or director Andrew Stanton (of Pixar’s FINDING NEMO) of having made a lazy film, as CARTER is anything but.

Burroughs’ series of books has been mined over and over again, for everything from FLASH GORDON, to STAR WARS, to DUNE, to AVATAR, so one can forgive the makers if the film feels slightly familiar, as the source material set many of the archetype’s that are still found in most grandiose fantasy epics. JOHN CARTERwas the grand-daddy of them all, and to that end, Stanton has obviously done his damnedest to make a film that can stand toe-to-toe with the heavyweights of the genre.

Now, I’m not saying JOHN CARTER is the new STAR WARS, but you’ve got to hand it to Stanton for taking a real stab at it. There are a lot of things about Carter that are just about perfect. The one thing that immediately sticks out is the score by Michael Giacchino, with this being, in my mind, the best thing he’s ever written. TheJOHN CARTER theme is immediately distinguishable right from the get-go, when we get our first, shadowy introduction (a la RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) to the man that will be taking us through this epic adventure.

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