John Carter (2012)

7.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 9/10

Decent adaptation, nice effects

Pretty average acting, maybe too heavy of a fantasy for some

Movie Info

Movie Name: John Carter

Studio: Walt Disney Pictures

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s): March 9, 2012

MPAA Rating: PG-13


So wait…how am I on Mars and on Earth?

John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a former Confederate soldier and warrior of Mars?  When John Carter’s nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (Daryl Sabara) learns his uncle has died, he begins to read his uncle’s tale of his journey from a cave of gold in Arizona to the planet of Barsoom (Mars).  On Mars, Carter found himself with superhuman strength and caught in the middle of another war.  When Carter Meeting the princess of Helium named Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), Carter must choose sides and in the process might bring peace to Barsoom.  With Sola (voiced by Samantha Morton), John Carter and Dejah Thoris set off to find a way to send John home and free Barsoom from Sab Than (Dominic West).


Woola’s a good boy!

Directed by Andrew Stanton, John Carter (sometimes called John Carter of Mars) has been in production for years.  The movie for the most part adapts Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars from 1912.  Through the character’s 100 years, there were talks of cartoons and movies (a proposed animated film would have beaten Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to being the first full length feature animated film).  During the 1970s, both Marvel and DC adapted John Carter into comic book form and there are currently multiple John Carter comics running.  The movie was met with mixed reviews (but positive reviews from fans) and became a massive bomb at the box office due to the high production costs.


More White Apes! More White Apes! More White Apes!

I always enjoyed the pulp heroes like Solomon Kane, Conan, Tarzan, and John Carter.  Tarzan and Conan had been done to death over the years but the prospect of finally seeing a John Carter movie was exciting…unfortunately, the cost and events leading up the release of John Carter doomed the movie and the franchise.

The series is pretty faithful to at least the themes of the John Carter stories.  In the story, the transport to Mars was much more mysterious and involved a strange gas from the cave.  The idea that “gods” of Mars is what ended up drawing John to Mars is a must more tangible idea for viewers (though it still is weird that his body doesn’t really go).  Another big change involves Carter’s attitude.  In the movie, he doesn’t want to fight due to his experiences in the Civil War.  In the novel, he didn’t really care and just fought.  Here he struggles with fighting as a plot point, and it does take away from what could have been some really cool fighting.

Kitsch is a pretty generic John Carter, but to be honest, John Carter is a pulp character and doesn’t have much personality.  Lynn Collins does a fine job as Dejah…they tried to give her more direction by making her a bit of a scientist and less of a damsel in distress, but much like Carter, the character is a bit generic.  Dominic West continues to be a good villain and always seems slimy in every role that he takes since The Wire.  The movie is also joined by some great voice acting by Samantha Morton, Willem Defoe, and Thomas Haden Church.


One of the least impressive showdowns…ever

The special effects on John Carter are quite good.  The movie really does capture the vision of Edgar Rice Burrough’s stories.  The Green Martians are some of the best designs of the characters (even in illustrations, they look like they have too much torso).  It is a shame that the white apes don’t show up earlier in the story because they too are interesting.  While Woola is a bit goofy, he pretty much looks like he is described in the book.  I always imagined that Dejah’s Red Martians were actually more red…here, they just look really tan (with red tattoos).

John Carter is a classic character in a decent movie.  He had a lot of effect on the sci-fi world  from everything from Flash Gordon to DC’s Adam Strange.  Kids will like it (I think it plays better than a few of the Star Wars prequels).  Surprisingly, it is rated PG-13 and this could eliminate a lot of the potential audience (and there isn’t a lot in it that is any worse than Star Wars—Episode II:  Attack of the Clones in the violence level).  John Carter was doomed to fail and unfortunately, that means we will probably never soar above Mars with Carter again (in the foreseeable future).

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

Leave A Response