9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
"A warrior may change his metal, but not his heart.",
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This review is from: John Carter (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) (Blu-ray)
A Familiar Story
100 years after it was first published Edgar Rice Burroughs' sci-fi epic FINALLY is done justice on the big screen. Under-hyped, over-budget, and helmed by a first-time live-action director most famous for directing CGI animated films for a general audience, John Carter is a sci-fi fantasy adventure triumph, and not only the best film of the summer so far, but the best movie I've seen all year.
Anyone who has read the books knows the basic story, and many do even if they haven't. A cavalryman at the end of the American Civil War gets magically transported to Mars where his already formidable fighting skills become super-human thanks to the low gravity of Mars. He gets caught up in a war, rescues a Princess, and saves the day. Anyone who faults the movie for repeating tropes of the past should take a moment to consider something Isaac Asimov once said:"There is no such thing as an original idea." Does John Carter feature gladiator arena fights, a princess in distress, all the usual adventure movie themes? Yes it does. Do Star Wars and Avatar and dozens of other movies feature the same themes and tropes? Yes they do. The books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs did it a hundred years ago, but that's not the point. The point is that the movie does it again, but it does it WELL.
That Old Saturday Matinee
People don't seem to care for movies that cater to the love of the old serials like they used to. When Star Wars came out it ushered in a whole era of fan-boy love for old-school adventure. When Indiana Jones came out it got the same level of excitement boiling in the blood of genre fans. Then Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow came out and everyone seemed to forget what movies were all about as it crashed and burned at the box office. The new Star Wars movies came out and people were so demanding in their expectations that they ceased to enjoy good old-fashioned sci-fi cheese for it's own sake (it's supposed to be fun!). And now here we are with John Carter and the same people are making the same mistakes all over again. John Carter is not a throw-away film. It's the best example of it's genre in a LONG time. It's better than the Star Wars Prequels. It's better than the fourth Indiana Jones (which is under-rated in my opinion). And it's a WHOLE lot better than Marvel's The Avengers.
A Tour-De-Force of Wildly Entertaining Cinema
This film really does have everything you could possibly want in a summer blockbuster. After I saw it I just couldn't believe it didn't get a July 4th opening, because it deserved to be THE movie of the summer. The film is well-directed, with excellent pacing, timing, and framing. It keeps you watching closely every second, and wastes no time. The photography is beautiful, showing us alien vistas and armies reminiscent of monster films and sword and sandal classics. The fighting is never off-screen, cut-away, or out-of-frame (unlike the horribly directed close-up hand-to-hand fights in the Avengers).
The jokes are genuinely and universally funny, viewing after viewing. The writing is sharp and neither overly sparse nor overly wordy. The editing of this film is excellent, yielding a compact, compelling picture that never drags. The CGI is excellent, and even characters that are completely CGI are believable and very human in their emotions and actions (take that JarJar!). There is a bit of a cartoonishness to the CGI, but it simply blends with the world of the movie so well (like Avatar) that I don't mind it at all. The sound effects could win an academy award, and the music DEFINITELY should. John Carter has the most recognizable theme I've heard in a very long time, and the score is dynamic, taking us through all the emotions of joy, sorrow, romantic longing, and heroic triumph.
Most importantly, this film has HEART. There is character development, actual PLOT (scheming forces manipulating rulers and others to bring destruction, an internal struggle to let go of the past and fight to create a future). The action sequences are spectacular, but none is so memorable as when our hero has a series of flashbacks to painful past events while fighting endless hordes of green-skinned Martians all alone. I cried during that sequence. That's movie magic.
What a Summer Movie Should Be
Some people go to movies to see something shocking. Some go to see something dark and edgy. I go to get away from my problems and be reminded that anything is possible. I go to experience a sense of wonder, and most of all, to be entertained. John Carter is a masterpiece of these elements. If you have the right mindset it will make you feel like a kid again. It will let you forget about the world and be magically transported to a far away world. And you will be VERY entertained.
John Carter is unapologetic escapist fantasy. Most good things in life are. The only flaw that I can think of is that the film SHOULD have been called John Carter of Mars (as it is on the End Title). Maybe then more people would have seen it. I saw it twice in the theater and only wish I could have seen it a few more times. Don't rent this movie. Buy it. On Blu-ray. Now!
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Showing 1-7 of 7 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 11, 2012 7:12:23 PM PDT
Great review! If you haven't already, I would invite you to join our movement on Facebook:
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 11, 2012 8:53:55 PM PDT
Will do! Thanks for the tip!
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 1:27:39 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Jun 12, 2012 1:27:59 PM PDT
Mark P. Vancak says:
This is one of the best, most thought out reviews that I've read. The scene where Carter fought the Warhoon was one of the, if not the most moving part of the movie. This is why we have movies. Movies should give us a sense of wonder and hope, and take away from the travails of everyday life.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 12, 2012 2:41:58 PM PDT
Mark P. Vancak: I agree completely! Thanks for your kind reply.
Posted on Jun 12, 2012 9:04:15 PM PDT
K. Jordan says:
Strategos, I totally love your review! Also go to the online Disney Store and search "John Carter" for the limited merchandise Disney is offering. They have t-shirts (good quality), mouse pads, mugs. Very limited but what they have is good. The Woola, Warhoon, and Tars Tarkas icons are especially good.
Thanks again for the great review!
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 5:14:05 PM PDT
K. Jordan: Thanks for letting me know! I've been wishing for some Disney merchandise related to the movie.
In reply to an earlier post on Jun 14, 2012 10:00:58 PM PDT
K. Jordan says:
My pleasure! And that you for your great review!
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