A decent enough adaptation of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’s scifi books set on Mars. Despite what other reviews might say, it’s not all that derivative. You might say the aliens are a bit ‘Avatar’, but this is a grittier and more convincing Avatar. You might say there are hints of Dune, but that’s never a bad thing, eh? Overall, there’s enough levity in the script and enough of an epic feel to make it worth a watch.
That being said, it’s far from perfect. The romance at the heart of it is from a bygone, more patriarchal era. The first 30mins are unweildy. And there are a good few moments of naffness. Some of the actors take themselves far too seriously, and just look silly in their martian garb. In fact, the CGI aliens are more realistic than the human actors. The actor who plays John Carter seems obsessed with being a brooding Johnny Depp, rather than displaying anything braver. Shame.
Saving graces, then? There is an interesting paradigm whereby both sides in any war are considered guilty. There is an interesting approach taken to cosmic chaos by the priestly and eternal baddies. ‘We do not destroy worlds, we simply manage their decline,’ is the refrain, or something like that. The priests are quite chilling all in all.
So what’s the plot? Hmm. John Carter, an earthling, is transported to Mars, where his physiognomy gives him superman powers. His task is to save the good city (Helium) from the bad city (Zippadeedooda). How does he do it? By halting the forced marriage of the Helium princess to the Zarathustran prince/warlord/Darth Vader wannabe. He marries her himself and that’s it. Two blokes fighting over who gets to mount the fine filly. There are even tusked warriors who go head to head in rutting fashion.
Overall, 7/10. It ain’t no Star Wars, but somehow it has a satisfying, almost nostalgic sense of the epic, where there are ‘chosen ones’ and we don’t live in a cynical after-the-finanicial-fall world. Definitely bygone era stuff.