John Carter

Out Now On-Demand

Lost in Our World. Found in Another.

Disney sci-fi action-adventure in which Civil War vet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch, Battleship) is transplanted to Mars and becomes embroiled in an epic battle amongst the planet's inhabitants.

Formerly an Earthlike world, Mars became less hospitable when the oceans evaporated, the atmosphere thinned and the planet devolved into barbarism with the inhabitants - 12-foot tall green thugs called Tharks - fighting one another to survive. After encountering Thark leaders Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) and Tars Tarkas (Willem Defoe), Carter takes it upon himself to bring the planet back from the brink of collapse and save its people.

Based on the classic Barsoom novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this marks the live-action debut from director Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, WALL-E).

Trailers

Directed by

Written by

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

132mins

Rating: M contains violence

USA

Official Site

The first of the American blockbusters to hit this year sets a high standard for the (predominantly superhero-focused) event movies to follow.

Despite the ambivalent, surprisingly hype-free build up to the movie, it proves a winning mixture of grand adventure and otherworldly awesomeness, all presented within an impressively epic scope.

Although it's based on a legendary novel that Hollywood has been attempting to adapt for seventy years, John Carter feels fresher than most contemporary blockbusters. The lack of multimedia familiarity with the characters and story benefits the film to no end. The inspiration for successes like Star Wars and Avatar is not difficult to discern within John Carter, and it lent the film a classic quality I greatly appreciated.

The design of the film is awesome – from the giant albino apes, glittering cities and flying machines to the more or less flawless green-skinned, twelve-foot-tall Tharks – everything popped nicely for me on a visual level.

All too often, films of this scope feel like all their edges have been ground down in the name of reaching the broadest possible audience. I got a sense while watching John Carter that the vision of director Andrew Stanton (WALL-E) was being delivered without compromise. There is a tangible throughline that proves all too rare in films of this size.

The film skews a little young at times, but never so much as to put me off. If you can allow yourself to be carried along by this fantastical story, the rewards are rich.

A.V. Club (USA)

press

Rather than trying to overwhelm viewers by overloading the senses, John Carter's effects strive to create something new using as their foundation a book that's fired imaginations for the past century.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)

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Does John Carter get the job done for the weekend action audience? Yes, I suppose it does. The massive city on legs that stomps across the landscape is well-done. The Tharks are ingenious, although I'm not sure why they need tusks. Lynn Collins makes a terrific heroine.

Empire (UK)

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Stanton has built a fantastic world, but the action is unmemorable. Still, just about every sci-fi/fantasy/superhero adventure you ever loved is in here somewhere.

Guardian (UK)

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A giant, suffocating doughy feast of boredom.

Hollywood Reporter

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Andrew Stanton's Disney extravaganza is a rather charming pastiche.

Los Angeles Times

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That John Carter is so hit and miss, and miss, and miss is unfortunate on any number of levels.

New York Times

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"Mash-up" doesn't begin to capture this hectic hybrid; it's more like a paintball fight. Messy and chaotic, in other words, but also colorful and kind of fun.

SFX Magazine (UK)

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All in all, this is one trip to Mars you won’t regret.

Total Film (UK)

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Big on ambition and disappointingly short on action.

Variety (USA)

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Stanton has been given the resources to create an expansive, expensive world, but lacks the instincts to direct live-action, a limitation that shows most in the performances.

Mars yawns...

If you loved the boring, predictable hogwash that was 'Cowboys & Aliens;' if you love popcorn family inaction movies like 'Transyawners' 2 & 3 or the camp oldy sci-fi of 'Flash Gordon' - then 'John Carter' will gobble your socks off. However, if you find cardboard characters, bad acting and a script so excruciatingly terrible that it makes Michael Bay's 'Pear Harbor' read like a lost Shakespearean tragedy - then avoid. Certainly, in the hands of the Andrew Stanton (director of Disney / Pixar's 'Wall-E') this Disney sci-fi epic looks good. The art direction is superb - but for me never escaped the 2D look of old 50's pulp sci-fi cover illustrations. Whereas Cameron's 'Avatar' made up for a silly premise and lacklustre script with amazing effects, CGI, art direction and cutting-edge 3D - 'John Carter' suffers from "seen-it-all-before" syndrome. Maybe that's not fair? Apparently Edgar Rice Burroughs' John Carter appeared way back in 1912 in his book 'A Princess of Mars' and several sequels. Apparently Lucas was heavily influenced by 'Carter' in creating 'Star Wars'; as was Cameron in creating 'Avatar.' Well - tough. They got there first and is that 'John Carter' comes off as a hackneyed rip-off... of itself, yeah, but either way, we've been here before. Lovely to look at - but oh so tedious. Then again, maybe it's just me? Because if 'Cowboys & Aliens' is your idea of great sci-fi movie making or Cap'n Jack Sparrow is your idea of a great character, or if you honestly think 'Transtossers' 2 and 3 had great scripts - knock yourself out and go to Mars. Personally? My next sci-fi blockbuster is Ridley Scott's return to 'Alien' territory with 'Prometheus.' As for "John Carter of Earth"? He can take shove his ridiculous excuse for dialogue up his Barsoom...Mind you two stars for not being anywhere near as bad as John Travolta's Scientologist "epic" 'Battlefield Earth.' Now that was total Barsoom... As for the 3D? No great shakes. You're missing little in good ol' fashioned 2D...


Family-friendly action-adventure at its best

With only the trailer to go on, you could be forgiven for assuming John Carter would be an average mashup of Prince of Persia and Avatar. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was probably one of the best movies I've seen this year.

John Carter has all the ingredients of a great adventure story - the reluctant hero, the feisty princess, a lovable and loyal companion/pet, a pale, bald and dastardly villain pulling the strings, a beautiful and exotic setting, and of course all kinds of excitement in the form of duels, fights and chases.

The film also has heart - a bit like The Mummy (the first few anyway), Stardust or even The Princess Bride; something I felt was lacking from Prince of Persia and many other action adventures today.

I was also surprised at how many times the whole audience were laughing at the numerous jokes - comedic timing was perfect, and the performances from the whole cast were perfect for the roles, even the CG characters.

Overall, I would highly recommend John Carter, in 2D or 3D - I guarantee it'll be a fun ride, and I hope there's a sequel!