Movie Release Friday, May 4th, 2012.
This past weekend, I went and saw “A Princess of Mars”. Doesn’t sound familiar??? That’s because it’s the name of a book that has been made into a $250 million dollar franchise-starting film. So, why the name change? What’s wrong with a title that has been around for almost a century? Some would tell you that having the word Princess in a primarily action oriented movie is a big mistake. Men and boys would never want to go see something like that. But a name can help to draw one in and entice you to experience it. An author chooses a title with great care and consideration. But, no matter the name, as long as the film adaptation keeps the heart of the book, it should be a great success. I think Disney’s “John Carter” does just that.
Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote his tale of a civil war veteran who is transported to the surface of Mars in 1917, during the height of World War I. He wanted to help people escape their own reality of devastation and grief. In his attempt to help a war-torn planet, he managed to create a masterpiece of the genre and captured legions of fans. It has been said to have inspired future sci-fi story-tellers like Arthur C. Clarke, H.P. Lovecraft, James Cameron and George Lucas. But what is it about this story that has so captivated millions of people?
John Carter was a veteran of the civil war who fought for the north and a cause that he believed in. While prospecting for gold in Arizona, he is attacked by a strange looking man that appears out of nowhere. John kills the man during the attack and, after grabbing a medallion the man was carrying, he is transported to the surface of Mars and finds himself in the midst of a battle of a different kind. The green skinned, six limbed, Martians, or Tharks as they are called here, are in the middle of a war between the two humanoid factions of the planet. Lucky for John, he meets the Tharks first and realizes the war is just like the war he left, a battle for power over others, and the Tharks are the innocents caught in the middle. It seems like such a simple story, but when you add in his ability to leap bounds in a single step due to the difference in Mars’ gravity, multi-armed giant apes, incredible special effects, smart writing, and good direction, it turns into the beginning of an amazing adventure.
Since the film was released, it’s already been said to lose the Disney company $200 million. I’m quite shocked by this and unable to understand why this film isn’t drawing in the masses. I, myself, was blown away by this adventure. I thought there were some outstanding performances from Taylor Kitsch, playing our hero John Carter, Lynn Collins as his love interest Dejah Thoris, and Mark Strong as the villain Matai Shang. I honestly want to know where the story goes from here. I’m not sure if my standards are too low, or the rest of the US just isn’t interested in a story about Mars. This movie was about a man of valor, intelligent, strong and able to be fair and noble. The love story was subtle and was believable. The kids will love the six limbed defenders with the awesome ships and weapons. Don’t let what others are saying stop you from making your own decision and rate it yourself. I think that if you give it a chance, you’ll see why this deserves more recognition than it’s currently getting. I’m looking forward to the next time I get to see it again.
J.Chandler – B+