John Carter (2012)
John Carter is a 2012 American science fiction action film that tells the first interplanetary adventure of John Carter, a former American Civil War Confederate Army captain who lost his family and becomes an excavator. The character ‘John Carter’ and the plot of the movie are based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ 11-volume Barsoom series of novels (1912–43).
‘John Carter’ has been played by Taylor Kitsch and this movie is directed by Andrew Stantaon. Stanton previously directed movies like Wall-E, Finding Nemo, etc.
After the sudden “death” of John Carter his nephew Edgar Rice Burroughs (whom Carter called “Ned”) attends the funeral. As per Carter’s instructions, the body is put in a tomb that can only be unlocked from the inside; his attorney hands over Carter’s personal journal for Ned to read, in the hope of finding clues explaining Carter’s reason of death. The film flashes back to the Arizona Territory, where Union Colonel Powell arrests Carter; Powell, knowing about Carter’s military background, wants his help in fighting the Apache. However, Carter escapes, with the guards in pursuit. In an ensuing chase both Carter and Powell find themselves in a cave in which Carter had been looking for gold. A Thern appears in the cave at that moment; Carter kills him and, with the help of his medallion, is unknowingly transported to Barsoom (Mars). There, due to his different bone density and planet’s low gravity, Carter is able to jump high and perform feats of incredible strength. He is captured by the Green Martian Tharks and their Jeddak (meaning “king”) Tars Tarkas.
Elsewhere on Barsoom, the Red Martian cities of Helium and Zodanga have been at war for thousand years. Sab Than, Jeddak of Zodanga, armed with a special weapon obtained from the Therns, propose a cease-fire and an end to the war by marrying the Princess of Helium Dejah Thoris. The Princess makes an escape and is saved by Carter. Carter, Dejah and Tarkas’ daughter Sola embarks on a quest to get to the end of a sacred river to find a way for Carter to get back home. There they find information about the ninth ray, a means of utilizing infinite energy and also the key to understand how the medallion works, but they are attacked by the Thern leader Matai Shang and his minions, the Green men of Warhoon. After the attack, Carter is captured and is taken back with Dejah while Sola is able to escape. The demoralized Dejah grudgingly agrees to marry Sab Than, then gives Carter his medallion and tells him to go back to Earth. Carter decides to stay back and is captured by Shang, who tells him the purpose of Therns and how they manipulate the civilizations on different planets. Carter is able to make an escape and he and Sola go back to the Tharks and ask for their help. There they discover Tarkas has been overthrown by Tal Hajus. Tarkas, Carter and Sola are put on trial in a gladiatorial battle with two vicious ape-like creatures. After defeating them and killing Hajus, Carter becomes the leader of the Tharks.
The Thark army charges on Helium and defeats the Zondangian army by killing Sab Than. Carter becomes prince of Helium by marrying Dejah. On their first night, Carter decides to stay forever on Mars and throws away his medallion. Seizing this opportunity Shang banishes him back to Earth. Carter embarks in a long quest, looking for clues of the Therns’ presence on Earth and hoping to find one of their medallions; after several years he appears to die suddenly and asks for unusual funeral arrangements – this is consistent with him having found a medallion, since his return to Mars would leave his Earth body in a coma-like state.
He made Ned his protector, giving him clues about how to open the tomb. The film reverts to the present, where Ned runs back to Carter’s tomb and opens it only to find it empty. Matai Shang suddenly appears, having followed Ned all the while, but as he prepares to kill Ned, Carter appears and kills him, then tells Ned that he never found a medallion; instead, he made a scheme to lure Shang out of hiding. Carter takes his medallion, whispers the code, and is finally transported back to Barsoom.
John Carter has plenty of surprises and edge-of-the-seat action all the way to the very end. It won’t win a nomination for Best Picture, but as a fun adventure and popcorn movie, it’s terrific and smarter than most, especially this time of y ear. John Carter is rated PG-1 3, with a lot of violence, some of it quite bloody (even if the blood might be another color at times) and very intense.
The strongest piece of the story is the film’s ending, once audience have accepted all that’s come before it and see what Stanton was going for and aspiring to accomplish. There’s a reason the film is titled John Carter and not John Carter of Mars and final moments firmly established that, setting up the potential for a great franchise if given a chance. Hopefully, if they get that chance, some more complicated themes can be explored in future installments.
The movie John Carter received opposing reviews from film critics.
Glenn Kenny of MSN Movies said, “By the end of the adventure, even the initially befuddling double-frame story pays off, in spades. For me, this is the first movie of its kind in a very long time that I’d willingly sit through a second or even third time.”
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times said that the movie “is intended to foster a franchise and will probably succeed. Does John Carter get the job done for the weekend action audience? Yes, I suppose it does.”
Dan Jolin of Empire noted, “Stanton has built a fantastic world, but the action is unmemorable. Still, just about every sci-fi/fantasy/superhero adventure you ever loved is in here somewhere.”