Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Movie Review - John Carter

Since we're a sucker for science fiction movies we went to see this, despite the miserable review it got in the local paper. If you go to a movie like this expecting the plot to make sense, you're just going to be disappointed. Enjoy it for what it is, a big spectacle of spidery flying machines, steam-punk technology and 10-foot tall green aliens with 4 arms.

The story is roughly based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs 1912 novel A Princess of Mars. This was apparently the original title of the movie but Disney changed it for who knows why. John Carter, played by Taylor Kitsch, is magically transported to Mars. He manages to win the respect of the big green guys, the Tharks, by being a tough SOB. You see, because of Mars' weaker gravity, John has acquired some super strength and the ability to leap tall buildings with a single bound. Eventually he meets the Princess, Dejah Thoris, played by Lynn Collins. The interaction between the two pretty much follows the Hans Solo-Princess Leia storyline.

I read this book some 40 years ago and didn't remember much of the plot. Wikipedia was very helpful. The screenwriters changed some key aspects of the story, such as adding a mysterious shape-shifting alien race, apparently not from the Solar System neighborhood, who are for some reason behind the endles war between Dejah Thoirs' people and the city-state of Zodanga. Zodanga is pictured as a city mounted on a huge machine which, for some reason, is walking across the landscape, pounding everything in it's path to dust. That's just several of the things which don't make much sense and don't appear to be part of the original story.

The Tharks were exceptionally well done and the special effects were pretty good. The acting left something to be desired. Kitsch was mostly somnambulent as Carter although Collins was great as the Princess. I'm sure that most of the actor filming was done in front of a green screen. Collins must have had a different idea of what was going on then most of the rest of the cast.

IMDB.com lists the following as a "factual error",

The two moons of Mars are shown much larger than their actual size. The inner moon, Phobos, would appear to be about one third the diameter of the Earth's Moon, while Deimos is star-like, with the maximum brightness approximately that of Venus as seen from Earth.

Ha ha, they apparently didn't have a problem with John Carter being able to breathe on Mars, or pretty much anything that happened once he got to Mars.

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