I have read several of the John Carter novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. "A Princess of Mars" was the first and had Carter die in a mystic cave and spiritually elevate himself to the red planet Mars, aka Barsoom. The old Marvel comics series and the newer John Carter series from Dynamite [http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1606902458/ref=cm_cr_asin_lnk] were my only other resource and I'm really happy to report that the film follows along pretty much along the lines of the campy, pulp style of the early 20th century.
2012 is the 100th anniversary of the publication of A Princess of Mars and so I was hoping this film would capture the spirit and it did! Pro reviewers online were wondering about the film's derivation or why the Tharks had tusks, blah blah. Clearly they had not read the book!
Burroughs is actually related to John Carter and finds Carter has died and ERB has inherited the estate and is left with a diary that is full of the adventures of Carter's time on Mars. This is a common device with Burroughs's stories. I recall his Pellucidar tales had a type of radio that the author would get his stories from. Or on Barsoom, some kind of radio or telepathy was used.
In the film, the first meeting of the Tharks and Tars Tarkas was really realistic from the book's perspective. The personality of Tars is just what I would have imagined: a Jeddack (king) of his people, proud, challenged and sees an opportunity to help his planet.
The princess is also of the same mind: she sees in Carter not only the salvation of her civilization, but also the salvation of his heart. Carter's family was brutally murdered during his time in the Civil War and in burying him he lost all hope and all purpose in life. Can Deja Thoris rekindle that purpose?
The bad guys in the piece are Tharns. I can't remember them from the novel but I have seen this type of tale before - immortal beings who hold sway over lesser beings and guide a planetary civilization to death and despair, and them move onto another one and do the same thing. Their agents on Earth are prepping us while they mop up Mars (Barsoom).
And I loved the special effects. Helium I imagined more a city in the sky, but they had it down pretty well. The flyers were as I imagined - giant Dragonfly designs and the fights in the sky were great to see. The crowd scenes were fun, as well as the gladiator battles with the Great White Apes!
Bottom Line: Don't listen to the naysayers and closed-minded critics. If you like camp, and long for those thrilling days of yesteryear, check out this film. No, it's not the best film they could have made of our gentleman of Virginia, but the sum of its parts - Western, Science Fiction and Fantasy Adventure - were really well done. Recommended.
And don't forget the great music. Got to catch the soundtrack.
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Movie Mood: Die-hard Fans Only
Viewing Method: Other
Film Completeness: Looked complete to me.
Worst Part of this Film: Script