Having just watched this gem, I felt compelled to blog (or blag) about this rather epic movie. My new childhood favorite I might add. I should warn you that the movie didn’t get a particularly high rating on IMDB, (something I would usually take notice of), but the Jules Vern style story telling had me at “bonjour”.
Let me review my check-list: Wild West; sword fights; under-dog; flying machines; aliens; interstellar travel; reluctant hero with a conscience; damsel in distress. This movie has all the ingredients I would’ve required to fuel my kiddie imagination. I would’ve prayed for this one on the goggle-box every Christmas (and other school holiday come to that). I could easily have added this movie to the list that I watched over and over and over again: The Time Machine; Journey to the Center of the Earth; Mysterious Island; First men in the moon; Around the World in eighty days etc.
The John Carter character was actually created by Edgar Rice Burroughs. (The geezer what created Tarzan). He first appeared in a 1912 magazine serial and later in novel form following the success of Burroughs’ Tarzan series. The character’s apparently appeared in various forms since his initial debut and this Disney feature film (John Carter) marks the centenary of that first appearance.
I’m sure I read somewhere that the John Carter character was the inspiration for the original Superman character. I can well believe that and can see now that we’re talking: super strength and leaping tall buildings in a single bound version; not the subsequent x-ray vision, bullet-proof and gravity-proof incarnation.
The main premise for Carter is that the lower gravity on Mars gives him super-human strength and an ability to take giant leaps for mankind; (rather than the customary small steps). An idea borrowed for Superman’s own transition from Kryptonian gravity to that of Earth. (Although I believe later incarnations attributed Superman’s extended set of powers to the effects of our Earthly sun).
A key difference between the Superman and John Carter story lines is that the main action for the former takes place on Earth (an environment we’re all familiar with). Whereas for the latter it’s primarily Mars based. I actually prefer the Carter configuration, as it’s easier to identify with a fellow Earthling who has to come to terms with his astral displacement and attainment of unusual powers all in the space of a single day. (Particularly liked him trying to walk or even stand up, when he wakes up in a strange wasteland).
I always figured that to really challenge Superman, we had to throw something extra special (or even another alien life-form) at him. Whereas to John Carter everything he encounters on Mars is a challenge. There are creatures he’s never seen. Primitive weapons coupled with advanced technology; (strange flying machines when he’s never seen an internal combustion engine and the only thing he’s ever seen fly are presumably buzzards). Guess it’s only his military training that allows him to bounce with the ball, as close encounters and alien challenges come thick and fast. Loved it.
Taylor Kitsch was heroic in the lead role, Lynn Collins curvy as the love interest and Mark Strong suitably slimy (as ever) as the bad guy.
It was nice to see a comic book character translated to the big screen, before I was even aware of the comics/novels themselves. Saves spoiling the ending if experienced that way round me thinks. Now excusez-moi, whilst I toddle off in search of the novel version instead. My interest has been peaked.