Starring Taylor Kitsch & Lynn Collins
Directed by Andrew Stanton • 132 min., PG-13
A 100-year-old pulp-fiction character finally makes it into the movies in “John Carter,” the rollicking new Disney 3-D romp about an astral-traveling Civil War veteran and his wild adventures on the planet Mars.
John Carter, created in the early 1900s by later “Tarzan” author Edgar Rice Burroughs, appeared first in serialized “adventure” magazine stories that were later reprinted as novels. His popular yarns came close to becoming movies a couple of times, as far back as the 1930s, but something always happened to sidetrack the projects.
Most recently, sci-fi geeks have been eager to see how the House of Mouse would handle this dime-store-rack cult classic, and I don’t think they’ll be disappointed. The “John Carter” movie is a sweeping, sometimes eye-popping spectacle structured faithfully in the service of Burroughs’ original tale of a battle-weary Confederate captain who becomes a swashbuckling savior to a parched, war-ravaged planet in need of a hero.
“Finding Nemo” and “WALL-E” director Andrew Stanton makes an impressive live-action debut, integrating the movie’s real actors into a teeming special-effects world of whiz-bang computer-generated gusto. Among the digitized delights, there’s a race of towering, green, tusked nomads with four arms; flying warships that resemble giant dragonflies; enormous toad-like watchdogs; and enraged blind apes that tear victims to shreds.
But at the heart of the spectacle is Carter (Taylor Kitsch, who played Tim Riggins on TV’s “Friday Night Lights”), whom we meet at the beginning of the movie on Earth, several years after the Civil War has ended. He’s on a crazy quest that has led him to a cave way out West, deep in Apache territory, where he stumbles onto an ancient secret that suddenly, mysteriously transports him---poof---to Mars.
On the red planet, Carter, freed of the stronger gravity of his home, finds he can jump astounding distances and pack quite a punch, qualities that come in handy in the raging war in which he finds himself. But for reasons we won’t fully understand until later, he has vowed to never again fight on behalf of anyone, or any cause.
Perhaps the plight of a beautiful Martian princess (Lynn Collins, who played Dawn Green on TV’s “True Blood”) and her people will rekindle his sense of loyalty. “Our world is dying,” she tells him. “Fate has brought you here.”
The story’s got romance, humor, and even some philosophical gristle: Is war a cosmic constant? Is anything worth fighting for?
The mature, film-reviewing grownup in me found it bit chaotic and confusing at times, sluggish and dull at others, and occasionally remindful of its long line of sci-fi motion-picture predecessors (“Star Wars,” “Avatar,” “Thor,” “Lord of the Rings”).
But in some deep, neglected part of my brain, when John Carter was squaring off against those monster apes, or hopping like a flea from the wing of one flying warship to another, or rallying an army of the green, desert-dwelling Tharks to fight the evil humanoids of Zadonga, I felt like I was a wide-eyed 10-year-old again.
If you know what I mean, and you also get that 10-year-old’s itch that sometimes just needs a good movie scratching, well, “John Carter” is probably that kind...your kind...our kind...of movie.
--Neil Pond, American Profile
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Apple Pie readers help Julia fill in the blanks (September 21, 2016)
Cheap cell phone plans for seniors (September 21, 2016)
Come And Take It starts Sept. 30 (September 21, 2016)
Disc water pitcher (September 21, 2016)
DRT chapter plans meeting, new member class (September 21, 2016)
Get ready to grill at show barn’s barbecue cook-off (September 21, 2016)
Old Town Day seeks vendors (September 21, 2016)
Poth VFD to serve up barbecued chicken (September 21, 2016)
Run and shine at Neon Sizzle 5K (September 21, 2016)
Spots open for Community Yard Sale (September 21, 2016)
St. Mary’s Fall Festival Sept. 25 (September 21, 2016)
Support FUMC youth at barbecue ‘fun’ raiser (September 21, 2016)
Teen MOPS plans upcoming meetings (September 21, 2016)
The root of many evils (September 21, 2016)
Uncovering local legends: The grave in the middle of the road (September 21, 2016)
URBAN-15 seeks dancers, drummers (September 21, 2016)
Chicago Cub yearbooks (September 14, 2016)
Enjoy Country Music Show Sept. 20 (September 14, 2016)
How to prevent falls at home (September 14, 2016)
Krawietz family reunion (September 14, 2016)
La Vernia EMS plans Car Show (September 14, 2016)
Labatt Club donates to library, children (September 14, 2016)
Low voices and high hopes (September 14, 2016)
Lutheran Church plans Sausage Dinner (September 14, 2016)
Medicaid covers mosquito repellent to fight Zika (September 14, 2016)
Metting family plans reunion (September 14, 2016)
Non-prescription drugs — the forgotten solution to rising health-care costs (September 14, 2016)
Relay For Life meeting is Sept. 15 (September 14, 2016)
Seguin Cowboy Gathering is Sept. 17 (September 14, 2016)
Smith Gas celebrates 88 years in business (September 14, 2016)
The life of Doris Billimek Moczygemba (September 14, 2016)
Trail ride donations surpass $1M (September 14, 2016)
Visit Remembering Our Fallen exhibit in Seguin (September 14, 2016)
Who will take care of you? (September 14, 2016)
A life shaped by hard work and hunting (September 7, 2016)
After-Dinner Chocolates (September 7, 2016)
Cajun music Sept. 10 (September 7, 2016)
Donate hearing aids, glasses, equipment (September 7, 2016)
Earn a certification in native landscaping (September 7, 2016)
Enjoy EquestFest 2016 (September 7, 2016)
Getting Engaged? How to spend wisely (September 7, 2016)
Mystery box (September 7, 2016)
Nominate a nonprofit for Literacy Award (September 7, 2016)
Old medicine chest dates back to 1821 (September 7, 2016)
Professional bull riding returns to Fredericksburg (September 7, 2016)
Register to run for tacos Oct. 1 (September 7, 2016)
Road Runners plan September outings (September 7, 2016)
Still time to buy tickets for Wild Game Dinner (September 7, 2016)
Take a tour of SS museum Sept. 17 (September 7, 2016)
Take the H-E-B Slim Down challenge (September 7, 2016)
Vote for top flick at Manhattan Short Film Festival (September 7, 2016)
Welcome to The Greenline, a 43-acre linear park (September 7, 2016)
‘Cupping’ long before Phelps did it (September 7, 2016)