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All hail John Carter of Virginia

 | March 17, 2012

This action/adventure/fantasy movie is excellent fodder for comic fans or readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels.


(John Carter) If you are in the mood to watch a mind-boggling, out-of-this-world and ridiculously entertaining movie, then may I suggest “John Carter” which hit the cinema screens last week.

If you have been reading all kinds of comics your entire life, you might have come across “John Carter of Mars”. Yep, that is the same guy.

However, the 2012 movie version of “John Carter” goes into detail about how he is accidentally transported to Barsoom or Mars via a medallion worn by a member of an advanced race called Therns.

If you are beginning to be confused, be prepared to be even more befuddled when the Tharks and inhabitants of two colonies Helium and Zodanga showed up.

“John Carter” is the creation of Edgar Rice Burroughs. If you are not that old, you may recognise Burroughs as the man who created Tarzan.

“John Carter” is actually 100 years old. The first time he appeared was in a magazine in 1912. This year marks the centenary of his existence in the minds of comic readers.

I had totally no expectations of what “John Carter” the movie was all about. I have only a fleeting acquaintance with John Carter because I recall reading at least one issue of “John Carter of Mars” about 25 years ago.

Seeing Carter on the screen after so many years was indeed quite thrilling. The special effects and the plot all contributed to 132 minutes of unadulterated sci-fi/fantasy roller-coaster.

It is a Disney production and the film budget of US$250 million (RM750 million) proves that nothing has been left to chance.

Above average

In my humble opinion, the story is above average mainly because it is the gem harvested from Edgar Rice Burroughs’ fertile field of imagination.

“John Carter” is played by Taylor Kitsch who bears a striking resemblance to the late Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee. Co-star Lynn Collins is Dejah Thoris, the Princess of Helium who is as curvaceous as the broad sword she wields.

Other cast members include Willem Dafoe who I did not recognise because he was wearing alien makeup in his role as Tars Tarkas, leader of the Tharks.

The Tharks are a barbaric race whose facial features include two tusks protruding from the jawbone and four hands. What makes “John Carter” a force to be reckoned with on planet Barsoom is his ability to leap 200 or 300 metres in single bound.

His physical strength has also been increased exponentially because of his earthly bone density and Barsoom’s low gravity.

This movie has some hilarious moments when John Carter who hails from Virginia, Texas, US is mistaken for another inhabitant from a similar-sounding place on Barsoom.

Believe it or not, “John Carter” is much more entertaining than the dozen or so sci-fi movies that have been released in the past six months.

If not for Rice Burroughs whose figments of imagination had so enriched young minds for the past 100 years, this movie would have fallen flat on its face.

Great film

So it is not unexpected that the author himself had worked himself into the script when he showed up in the last 15 minutes of the movie as Ned, nephew of John Carter.

Personally, I enjoyed the movie enormously. Some movie critics have begged to differ but frankly, who cares. This is a great film, as far as I am concerned.

Few Disney movies ever crashed and burned at the cinema. “John Carter” certainly won’t be one of them. I am glad Taylor Kitsch, an actor from Canada, has been given the plum role.

If “John Carter” had been played by a more familiar face, it would have spoilt all the fun. For movies like this, it is always better to get a lesser known actor.

Kitsch was just a kid back in the mid-80s in Kelowna, British Colombia, Canada. Look how far he has come since then. From British Colombia to Barsoom in a single bound is almost like Superman flying from North to South Pole in two seconds.

To encourage grown-up men to watch “John Carter”, producers have cast Lynn Collins as the very attractive Helium princess who has got a face that men won’t be tired of looking at. Collins had honed her acting skills on the Shakespearean stage.

Movie viewers may have seen Collins in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” where she played Kayla Silverfox. Standing at 5ft 8in, it is hard not to notice her.

This action/adventure/fantasy movie is excellent fodder for comic fans or readers of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels. The hours I spent watching the movie slipped past like very short minutes. It was that entertaining.

All things considered, this is one of the very few movies that I have actually entertained the thought of watching again. I believe I got so excited watching the movie that I might have missed some vital scenes.

It is either watch the film a second time or get the Blu-Ray version of “John Carter” when it comes out six months from now.


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