HTS Moderator , Reviewer
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8836[/img]Title: John Carter
Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe
Directed by: Andrew Stanton
Written by: Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews
Runtime: 132 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: June 5th, 2012
HTS Overall Score:91
“John Carter” had a lot of obstacles to overcome in order to make it to the silver screen. It's one of the few films to be stuck in development hell for decades; pair that with a director who had never before done live action films, add in re-shooting most of the movie late in the game, and throw in some of the worst marketing known to man, just for good measure, and we have ourselves a recipe for disaster. Strangely enough, through, despite all the red flags, “John Carter” surprised everyone.
“John Carter” is based on a series of fiction books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the 1920s. Edgar Rice Burroughs’s claim to fame is his extensive “Tarzan” series, but in the early days of the 20th century, the name John Carter was just as familiar to the U.S. populace as the famed jungle man. Burroughs is not Charles Dickens by any stretch, but he never claimed to be. His mainstay was 200-300 page "pulp" novels, meant only to entertain, rather than enlighten or “deepen our understanding of our fellow man." That is the one thing we must take into account when watching this film. There is a time and a place for everything: a time for serious dramas, a time for exquisite plot and a time for just pure fun. Our film revels in the latter. Like the novels on which it is based, “John Carter” is light and fluffy, short on plot and long on tough guy bravado, crazy beasts (that today seem quaint and trite), and a beautiful princess, with whom even the most daring swordsman would think twice about crossing blades with (and for some strange reason, caters to wearing body armor that leaves vital organs vulnerable but accentuate just HOW gorgeous is aforementioned princess).
We start the film in the present time where John Carter’s (Kitsch) nephew Edgar (hint hint), has been called in to settle the affairs of his late uncle, who mysteriously died and ordered his remains enclosed in a vault. As young Edgar starts reading through the journals of his dead uncle, we find that there may be more than meets the eye. Flashing back in time, we see a former confederate soldier, John Carter, on a search for the ultimate treasure: an entire cave full of gold that no Native American will go near. As luck would have it, our unlikely hero stumbles upon said cave by accident, and with the help of a mysterious medallion and a mumbled chant is thrust through space to the red planet, which the natives call “Barsoom”. War weary as he is, John is thrust into yet another civil war, but this time waged between the humanoid factions that dominate the planet. The Zondangans (a barbaric people dressed in leather and an evil red) are out to conquer the Heliums (a much more intellectual faction dressed in soft tones of blue) through hook or by crook, and John is stuck right in the middle. As every self respecting male would, he comes to the rescue of Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins with some incredibly long hair extensions) from the dastardly Sab Than (Dominic West) of the Zondangan empire and starts a chain of events that will change the world of Barsoom forever. If this were any place on Earth, the story may have played out differently; however, here on Barsoom, due to his denser bone and muscle structure, John can leap tall buildings (or in this case, desert wastelands) in a single bound and take on white apes the size of small skyscrapers. To the Helium people, he is a savior (and the initials JC aren’t lost upon the viewer), while to the Zondangans, he is a weapon to be used in their conquest machine. Through the course of the film, John must come to grips with the idea that he was meant for something greater than drinking his sorrows away in every tavern he crossed. Will he keep running away from his tragic past? How will he face the heart wrenching choice of choosing true love on Barsoom, or going back to his home of Earth?
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8837[/img]As you can tell, “John Carter” is a simple film at heart, pulp fiction to the core. I do admit that there are some flaws to the storytelling. We are given the standard “reluctant hero” plotline and some one-liners that made even me want to bang my head against a wall. Taylor Kitsch is also no Robert De Niro; many of his scenes feel forced and rough, and that's putting it mildly. Acting wise, the villains' surprisingly upstaged our young heroes, and quite handily. Dominic West is no stranger to playing vindictive characters, and Mark Strong’s presence alone can inspire fear in a person. HOWEVER, despite all the persistent flaws, I found the movie to be a complete and utter blast from beginning to end. As long as one keeps in mind that this story is not meant to intellectually challenge us, but rather entertain, the shortcomings can be overlooked. Overall, I would have to say that John Carter appeals to the young hero or heroine in all of us, the inner child who wants to save the princess and beat the bad guy, and look awesome (or fabulous, you choose) doing so.
Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8835[/img]After giving "The Secret World of Arriety" a 5 star rating for the video quality, the critic in me loathes to give another one so soon afterwards. Unfortunately (or fortunately for the viewers), I had to come to grips with the fact that "John Carter's" 1080p AVC encode is flawless. Disney is known for putting an amazing amount of work into their Day and Date releases and this is no exception. Colors are bright and lush throughout the whole movie, from the bright red sands of the Barsoom desert to the darker more subdued blues and blacks present during inside shots. Dust plooms look incredibly real and even the CGI characters show nothing to gripe about. I could not see an artifact ANYWHERE, and believe me I looked. Facial detail was incredible, every pore on Taylor Kitsch's face was accurately re-produced even down to his morning razor burn. Blacks are deep and inky without ever once losing background detail in the dreaded black crush. Disney may have dropped the ball on marketing "John Carter", but they certainly went the extra mile in making it look as pristine as possible for home viewers.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=8834[/img]Disney is on a roll! Just as with the video score I have to give the 7.1 DTS-HD MA a perfect 5 out of 5. From the echoing of a Helium ship cannon to the thundering roar of thousands of Tharg feet rampaging across the desert sands I was totally immersed in the audio glory that Disney made for us. Vocals are crisp and clear without a hint of being overshadowed by the bombastic score. Surrounds are used extensively and accurately. I could hear the bullets whizzing by my ears and the "thunk" of a spear slicing over my shoulder. LFE has to be one of the best I've heard in a long time. There are times when you hear the thunderous explosion of cannon fire or an impact and then a shift to that low frequency LFE where the hairs on the back of your arms are the only thing cluing you in to the sub sonic frequencies. As with video scores I am loathe to give out 5 star ratings, but this is one to compare with the big dogs such as Transformers : Dark of the Moon
• Audio Commentary
• Disney Second Screen Interactive Experience
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Director's Commentary
• 100 Years in the Making
• 360 Degrees of John Carter
• Barsoom Bloopers
Slaughtered at the box office, "John Carter" is a movie that will have to make its money back in the ever lucrative home video market. Will it do so? No one knows for sure, but I believe that isn't something about which fans should be concerned. With its impeccable Audio/Video scores and lighthearted action, this one will please both young and old. For those looking for a deeper more "fulfilling" cinematic experience, I suggest looking elsewhere, but to those who want to lean back on the couch, crack a beer, stuff your face with popcorn, and have your windows and doors rattle all the way down to the smallest screw...then this is movie for you. While I understand that "John Carter" has its flaws, (be it storyline, or be it poor marketing) it has been a very long time since I came out of a movie theater grinning ear to ear, and I heartily recommend "John Carter" to anyone looking to escape the drudgery of day-to day-life and be transported to another world, must like we did 30 years ago in a galaxy far far away...
Recommendation: Watch it!!