What can I say except that I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Stanton’s adaptation of the now century-old A Princess of Mars. At the end of the movie, I felt like a young teenager again in the 70s thrilled by fantasy films like Jason & the Argonauts and the Golden Voyage of Sinbad. In these films, we had swashbuckling heroes, damsels in distress, gigantic monsters and epic battles sequences. The plot was simple (but not simplistic) with the themes of loyalty, sacrifice and love high on the agenda. You might even call the storyline in John Carter, archetypal planetary romance and deep influences on blockbusters such as Star Wars and Avatar.
John Carter has been planned as the first in a trilogy of movies about Edgar Rice Burroughs’ titular character and it is very much framed as an origin story, with the ending setting up for a sequel nicely. Whether we will get to see the sequel will really depend of course on the film’s box office performance. Which at the moment, is not not faring as well as Disney would have hoped. That I believe is partly due to the fact that most movie-goers unfamiliar with John Carter’s place in science fiction may consider the movie to be an inferior facsimile of Avatar or Star Wars.
Which would be a pity because Stanton has fashioned a loving tribute to the original tale that does Burroughs’ vision justice. Whilst the lead actors viz Taylor Kitsch (Carter) and Lynn Collins (Dejah Thoris) are serviceable in their roles, the true appeal lies in the plot idea of a human being transported to Mars (Barsoom to the natives) and becoming embroiled in a conflict that will determine the fate of the planet itself. Director Stanton (best known for helming Pixar’s Finding Nemo and Wall-E) keeps delivering the storyline as his focus and with the aid of top notch digital effects, there is no problem in enjoying the ride.