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From Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Best Animated Film, Wall-E, 2008) comes John Carter -- a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs's classic novel, John Carter is a war-weary, former military captain who's inexplicably transported to Mars and reluctantly becomes embroiled in an epic conflict. It's a world on the brink of collapse, and Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands. Stunning special effects, great characters and villains -- and complete with extraordinary bonus features -- John Carter is a heroic and inspirational adventure that will thrill you beyond imagination.
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While the movie has a few potholes, it shores up several that were in the books, such has giving a reason as to why/how John Cater got to Mars in the first place and was sent back to Earth.
I really wish it had done well enough for a sequel because I am really curious what they had planned for the Thurn, the pale-skinned bald fellows who serve as the movie's shadowy mastermind villains, but in the books aren't introduced until the second novel when John returns to Mars after being sent back to Earth. In the book they were a threatening and mysterious force, but the movie amplifies that aspect with their destructive technology and talks of managing the destruction of worlds.
Look, Edgar Rice Burroughs lived at a time when people actually thought a grand alien culture had dug canals on Mars and then died out. There were strong indications, even then, that this was not good science--but Burroughs wasn't looking to write profound, scientifically-accurate books. He deliberately wrote pulp fiction as a kind of dare, and firmly embraced 'strong man, damsel in distress' stereotypes as well as a whole host of other vaguely (or extremely) racist stereotypes in order to entertain the masses. And boy, was he good at it. I mean in terms of the number of books sold, not necessarily in terms of the longevity of his work. Not a whole lot of people today will catch your references to 'Barsoom' and John Carter, and that's perfectly fine. We have Andy Weir and 'The Martian' now, as well as a whole host of other lovely books and films that provide somewhat more believable approaches to life on Mars.
I happen to think 'John Carter' was a blinding success in that it updated enough of its content, themes, and characterization to make it more palatable to an audience which might include emancipated working women as well as people of color--note that I said 'more palatable,' not 'actually all that great'--and in that it captured the rogueish, swashbuckling tone of the books without falling prey to their archaic language and plot devices. Comparisons to other films don't really hold up all that well, but think of this more along the lines of an adaptation like the 'League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' film, mixed up with the atmosphere of a 'Hot Fuzz.' Minus Simon Pegg, who is excellent, and plus Lynn Collins, who is wasted in so many ways.
(I even told my friends at Disney and Pixar this.)
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I read all the books and the movie didn't do them justice - it was still entertaining.