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Wednesday, 24 April 2013

John Carter movie review

Initially I'd been eager to see what Disney would make of the pulp classic which Edgar Rice Burroughs penned around the same time as his better known Tarzan series. That's not to say that his Mars series are not known because they have a large readership, but whilst everyone has heard of Tarzan it is only students of the pulps and science fiction geeks who have heard of John Carter, the character who created in the Mars series. The first book in the series was Princess of Mars and it this book that the makers of the movie used as the source material for John Carter.

However I missed this film on its big screen release, and after so much negative press I ignored it when it came out on DVD. Recently I came across the film in a bargain bin  and thought I'd finally give it a try.

It's not such a bad movie as the reviews would have you believe, nor does it deserve to have been the costly box office flop that it was.

Yes it's corny and often predictable but throughout it remains true to its pulp origins.The script is driven by the derring-do of the great adventure writers -men such as Jules Verne, Rider Haggard and of course Edgar Rice Burroughs. And it times on reminded me of the old Saturday morning adventure serials that used to play when I was a kid. John Carter then is an old fashioned movie only in the sense that the original Star Wars is an old fashioned movie - since both are heavily influenced by the episodic science fiction of the likes of Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers and others of that ilk. It is family entertainment first and foremost and looks quite spectacular with the multi-armed Martians being perhaps the finest celluloid aliens since those in Avatar. It was padded out in the middle and could have done with a little trimming but I still enjoyed it even if its two hours plus running time seemed far too long. This could have been a fantastic ninety minute adventure but as it is the beginning is far too slowly placed and the jump from Earth to Mars seems a little forced - mind you this is not the fault of the film and I felt the same thing while reading the original novel a year or so ago.The book is in the public domain and available freely and I first read it on my Kindle, I had of course heard of the character and I've read a few Tarzan novels in my time but Burroughs' Mars books were known to me only by reputation. I'd heard of them but never read them.

I'm glad I've seen the film now -it's not as bad as some would have you say, and indeed at the budget DVD price represents extremely good value.

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