Beautifully designed and impressively directed, this is a thoroughly enjoyable, emotionally engaging space opera with an intelligent script, strong characters, terrific special effects and superb performances from Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins.
What’s it all about?
Pixar director Andrew Stanton’s (Finding Nemo, WALL-E) first foray into live-action is based on the series of fantasy novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs (the first written in 1912) that set the template for such future genre staples as Superman, Flash Gordon, Star Wars and so on. Taylor Kitsch stars as disillusioned American Civil War veteran John Carter, who’s mysteriously transported to Mars – which the natives call Barsoom – where he’s captured by a four-armed race of green-skinned, nine foot tall Tharks lead by Tars Tarkus (Willem Dafoe).
Carter soon learns that Barsoom is under threat, thanks to a raging war between rival tribes the Zodangans – lead by the villainous Sab Than (Dominic West), who’s been given a game-changing superweapon by manipulative, all-powerful Therm (a sort of super-powered mystic) Matai Shang (Mark Strong) – and the peace-loving Heliumites, lead by King Tardos Mors (Ciaran Hinds) and his feisty daughter, scantily-clad philosopher-slash-warrior Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins, Kitsch’s co-star in Wolverine: Origins). Discovering that his bone density gives him super strength and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound, Carter rescues Dejah from the clutches of the Zodagans and makes a powerful enemy of Matai Shang in the process.