Mojave Flick Review: John Carter Review

Editor’s note: We all love movies, but rather than ask a syndicated columnist who has never visited our beautiful High Desert, we commissioned our own local movie critic: Nolan P. Smith to review films and give us a local perspective. Enjoy!

Miguel Gonzalez


By Nolan Patrick Smith

High Desert Daily

(Victorville) The classic tale from Edgar Rice Burroughs comes to life in Disney’s John Carter. Based off of the serialized Under the Moons of Mars published 100 years ago, and the collected edition titled Princess of Mars from 1917, the story predates most science fiction works by leaps and bounds. How does such a historic work translate into an action packed Disney film in 2012?

The film is the story of a young Civil War officer, John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a broken man who has been seeking hidden gold in the Arizona Mountains. A series of events leads Carter to be transported to a foreign land, a land where he can jump farther than any person, a land called Barsoom, better known to us as the red planet, Mars. He is met by the four armed, green Martians the Tharks and their leader, Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe), who takes him hostage as such a being has never been seen by the Tharks. Meanwhile, a battle between the factions of Helium and Zondanga on Barsoom comes to a temporary halt due to the arranged marriage between the Zondanga leader and the Princess of Helium, Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). Eventually, all the factions collide, bringing Carter and Dejah to be drawn to each other, which leads to a war that will change the land of Barsoom forever.

The film is an action packed thrill ride, paying tribute to one of the father’s of science fiction, Edgar Rice Burroughs. As to be expected, the story does deviate from time to time as do the character designs and creatures. The original story had much more of an adult feel to it, as did the characters and the respective looks. With this being a Disney film, changes in a few elements were expected, but overall I still feel that we are getting a good representation of John Carter from Mars. When looking at the film, the special effects are evident, as is the quality in what you see on screen.

From the four-armed Tharks to the monstrous White Apes, the world of Barsoom is brought together in awe. The flying machines look amazing, as do the various Tharks and the city of Helium. Acting wise, I felt the cast all really held their own, and when you look at the actors involved it is no surprise. Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins obviously get the most screen time, but with Mark Strong (Green Lantern) lending his talents as a Holy Thern, and Willem Dafoe and Thomas Haden Church both voicing a Thrak, you get to see the caliber of actors who all were a part of this historic film.

All in all, I cannot recommend John Carter enough. If you are looking for a great sci-fi film, a fun popcorn action flick, then you need to go see this film. I really do hope it performs well enough to warrant a sequel, as I would be on board for another visit to the red planet.

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