I’ll cop to it up front: I’m not a Burroughs aficionado. In some circles, not getting down with the multitudinous works of Edgar Rice Burroughs is on par with saying you don’t like Firefly. In my defense, I triedA Princess of Mars. It just didn’t click for me and I left it unfinished.
So a film adaptation appealed, because I wanted to check out some version of the character. Why the marketing department trimmed off the most interesting part of the title, I couldn’t say. John Carter of Mars is bound to bring in more people than straight up John Carter — my friend pointed out that if someone hadn’t told her it’s a science fiction movie set on Mars, she’d’ve inferred from the title it was some historical biopic and paid it no further mind.
At any rate, John Carter is an adaptation of one of the original pulp scientical romance premises: E. R. Burroughs’ Barsoom stories, in which an Earthman is mysteriously transported to Mars, or Barsoom as its natives call it. And there are a crap-load of natives: the human-like red Martians, the four-armed, twelve foot tall Tharks and the mysterious Therns. Carter arrives in the middle of a war between city-states Helium and Zodanga, with the Therns pulling strings on both sides of the conflict.
I dug the wild action of the movie. Carter is a bit like Superman come to Earth, thanks to his high density anatomy in the relatively lower gravity of Mars. He plows through adversaries, batting them away like flies. The airships of Mars cruise through the sky, as much marvels of moving parts and over-sized controls spun by gangs of crewmembers as they are impossibilities that sail on light.
John Carter is getting an overly unfair shake right now. It had a lusterless marketing effort that probably isn’t connecting with the people who would enjoy it. It seems to be getting a lot of attention in the trades as a movie that’s tanking badly. If you’re into pulpy science fiction or have some cinema gift certificates in your pocket, check it out before the movie disappears from theaters.