Vacationing in Barsoom – John Carter review

John Carter was, perhaps, the first movie this year that I was excited to see. I had been following the movie for some time, devouring every bit of information about it that I could. The only thing I have not done yet is read the original book. Last night I got to experience Barsoom in gorgeous, IMAX glory.

It had been awhile since I have stepped foot in an IMAX. Last time was to watch a documentary on a field trip in elementary school. Now, I do not know why I have not been watching every movie on an IMAX screen. Paying $15 for the ticket was well worth it.

One thing I have not done leading up to watching John Carter was follow any press judging the film. It has proven healthy to ignore the reviews and the ratings. Going in with preconceived notions has always seemed to hinder me. Now that I’ve seen the film, I’ve read some things that surprised me. Journalism takes a bit of research, but that art seems to be a bit lost. Many are comparing this film to James Cameron’s Avatar or George Lucas’ Star Wars, but John Carter predates both of them and any other epic, Sci-Fi tale.

This movie is based primarily on Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars which was a serialized novel in 1912. So even if the story seems familiar (or just the fact that it’s an alien tale it automatically equals other alien tales in the media’s eyes), John Carter gives us a different take on a planet we  thought we knew: Mars. And Mars/Barsoom is beautiful. The giant IMAX screen definitely helped portray the gorgeous planet. I was in awe at the landscape and scenery. The aliens were so imaginative, however, they sometimes looked every bit their CGI selves next to Carter.

I also had problems with the story and the dialogue. How many times must we say “John Carter”? What exactly IS happening? There always seemed to be more that the story could tell us, but with an already long running time, perhaps it was just impossible to fit everything into the film. Carter’s backstory (shown in flashbacks) was more believable and interesting then his sudden devotion to Barsoom and the stunning princess Dehja.  However, the bookended beginning and ending of the film were very satisfying.

Any movie that decides to take on something that has such a grand scale will not be without it’s problems, but John Carter is far from a ‘flop’ as I have heard it called this weekend. It starts off at a slow pace then speeds you along Barsoom to a very brilliant ending. The costumes. The landscape. The characters. The action. All of it mixed for a wonderful experience, but not enough to convince me to leave Earth, or Jasoom, any time soon.

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