Tim Riggins in Space: John Carter Can't Lose

With expectations to match its obscenely huge budget (an estimated quarter of a billion dollars), this long-delayed adaptation of pulp meister Edgar Rice Burroughs's 1917 sci-fi swashbuckler A Princess of Mars has every right to be a bloated, gutless CGI eyesore. What a surprise, then, that John Carter—leaden title and punishing running time be damned—is a lively, visually crafty pleasure. The story concerns the late-19th-century adventures of reclusive Civil War vet and pacifist Carter (Friday Night Lights panty-dampener Taylor Kitsch, charming but flat), who's inexplicably transported to Mars ("Barsoom" to the natives) and reluctantly drawn into another conflict. Before you can say "Tim Riggins in space," Carter acquires superpowers, buddies up with a race of four-armed, big green men, falls in love with the heiress apparent (Lynn Collins) of a matriarchal society, and gets a dog, more or less.

Any action-inclined moviegoer has already absorbed loads of the extraterrestrial gladiator-cum-cowboy trappings of Burroughs's Mars series—he published nearly a dozen Carter books over 25 years. The achievement of John Carter is that it takes the elements worn to nubs by everything from Star Wars to Avatar to TV's Fringe and makes them fresh again. Credit goes to director Andrew Stanton (WALL-E, Finding Nemo) and his co-screenwriters Michael Chabon and Mark Andrews (like Stanton, a Pixar regular), who have a clear regard for Burroughs's pulp ethic, creaky and racially suspect as it is (the green Martians remain simple-living savages compared to the more advanced, white humanoid ones), and the smarts to infuse it with disarming, condescension-free levity.

Disney's dedication to getting maximum bang for its special-effects buck deserves mention, too, despite the studio having spent enough here to, oh, end world hunger. Having been a Tarzan kid myself, I can't vouch for the movie's fidelity to its source, but if you find yourself drawn into the thing, it's beside the point anyway.

 
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3 comments
nazgulero_0
nazgulero_0

With all due respect, there is no way you can give this movie an 80 rating on Metacritic. The movie is downright atrocious. You are right about the Star Wars and Avatar elements, but to make Jar Jar Binks into a four-armed, tusked version - please. They just took elements from these movies and made them ridiculously worse. I have never seen so many people leave a movie theatre as during this flick. By the way, isn't Mars supposed to be red ? They couldn't even get this small detail right.

Mark
Mark

I enjoyed this show. It was a little confusing, and not quite like the novels; but I lovedthe sets, costumes, locations, characters. And, after a while, I really liked the leadcharacters.. It was very romantic and they came across as rather real in all thefantasy. I would go to a sequel.

 

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