(Warning - some possible minor spoilers)
Let me just begin by cutting to the chase - I saw John Carter, the first live action Disney/Pixar film, last night. I loved it.
I'm actually rather late to the game when it comes to Burroughs' work - I've only recently read A Princess of Mars (from which much of the movie takes its story), so I have no personal stake - I can't say that I've always wanted to see this film, but having enjoyed the novel (so much that I'm seeking out both sequels to the book), I was surprised how faithful to the book the movie was, with some elements from later books (so I'm told) integrated into the plot.
Following the general outline of A Princess of Mars, we're taken to the late 19th century, where a young Edgar Rice Burroughs is informed about the unusual funeral requests of his uncle, John Carter. We then flash back to a post-Civil War Arizona, where we see John Carter find himself in a cave, and somehow transported to the mystical world of Barsoom (or as we know it, "Mars"). He finds himself embroiled in a series of adventures - from being integrated with the large, four-armed, green Tharks to a conflict with an evil overlord, and finding himself entranced with an extremely beautiful scientist princess...
Much of the success of the movie comes down to the script, co-written by Andrew Stanton (the director) and Michael Chabon (of Kavalier and Klay). In a time when most comic and popular culture adaptations are filled with random references, and containing strong ideas that never get worked out, John Carter stands out for being literate, intelligent, and not talking down to its audience. (Although admittedly, the film does drag in the middle). Stanton's direction also has a great classic movie making vibe - when we flashback to Arizona in 1868, we get a grand panorama that would not be out of place in a John Ford/John Wayne movie. Barsoom manages to look simultaneously alien and slightly steampunk-ish without feeling "overdesigned", and this is one of the first times CGI actually looks organic within the context of a film.Combine this with some really strong acting choices, and some great creative ones, and this is one of the best films that has come out in awhile.
(Plus, you'll love John Carter's alien "dog". If you don't, you have no heart or soul).
Strong acting, well-written and thoughtfully shot...John Carter is really an atypical movie. Quite honestly, you do yourself a disserve by not seeing it. It's not performing as well as it should, but this is well worth catching...and not in 3-D or IMAX. It's such a gorgeous looking movie that seeing the "regular" version is just as impressive.
Go see this. Now.
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As always, keep watching!
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