I have a very limited knowledge of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ original stories. I was only informed as such by my younger brother who is a diehard fan, so I can’t really tell you how faithful this film is to the source material.
What I can tell you, however, is that this film is definitely one worth seeing.
The story follows John Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch, a former confederate soldier who’s accidentally teleported to Mars, a planet that’s rich with its own history, its own bases of science, and a civil war that has been waged for centuries between the nations of Helium and Zodanga.
Despite the mild predictability of certain elements, the way it’s executed in this film is actually quite interesting.
First off, we don’t have all of Mars’s inhabitants speaking English right off the bat, which is something that was usually common to science fiction fantasy tales from Burroughs’ era.
It also doesn’t bog itself down with a whole bunch of exposition.
For a film that relies heavily on special effects, it does very interesting things with the live action cinematography and actually has its fair share of practical effects.
For example, when John Carter is adjusting to the lighter gravity of Mars, it doesn’t jump straight into CGI, instead opting for practical wirework, saving the CGI for the more “impressive feats.”
Even when it comes to interacting with the Tharks, the performances of the human characters come of as organic.
Another thing I didn’t expect is the subtle insertions of comedy. Instead of having openly comedic scenes like in other fantasy adventure films, this is more subdued, with responses feeling more organic and spontaneous.
Overall, this is a very enjoyable film, especially if you’re someone who grew up on things like Star Wars or Indiana Jones.
This is a film for kids and the kid at heart. On my personal scale, I give “John Carter” 5/5.