Walt Disney Studios’ John Carter opened nationwide on Friday, March 9th, but it wasn’t until last weekend my family and I were able to see it. Three weeks into its theatrical run, John Carter is clearly on life support – mortally wounded not only by Katniss’ arrow from The Hunger Games, but from Walt Disney Studios itself. When my family of 4 entered the theater, we easily doubled the audience for that showing. Disney’s John Carter is about a man transported from Earth to Mars. However, those aren’t the two worlds I’m referring to in this review. No, this discussion is centered on the on-screen world of John Carter vs. what went on off-screen. Continue reading for more about John Carter’s tale of two worlds.
Director Andrew Stanton’s attempt to translate the 100 year old novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs “A Princess of Mars” to the screen was an incredibly ambitious one. By now we all know (or at least we should know) that John Carter is a tale of a post-Civil War Confederate soldier mysteriously transported from Earth to Mars. Once on Mars, John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) was adopted by one species of Martians – the 9 foot tall, 4 armed, green skinned Tharks, and Carter becomes embroiled in an age old Civil War between two clans of tattooed, red-skinned Martian Humanoids. The film starts off with a long, expository scene on Mars telling the backstory of the war between the red-skinned Heliumites and Zodangans, and how another race called the Therns (possibly Martians, possibly from another world altogether) tips the balance of the war in the Zodangan’s favor. Notice none of these races are the towering, 4 armed, Martian Tharks, they play another role in the war and John Carter’s development. Confused? You aren’t the only one.