The year was 1982 and my dad put a worn copy of a sci-fi book in my hand called “A Princess of Mars” by Edgar Rice Burroughs. At the time, I read, but did not like to read much. That book changed my life, and opened me up to the world of science fiction and fantasy in print. 30 years later, and the book that turned me on to being a glutton for sci-fi and fantasy novels was on the big screen.
My dad and I waited for years for this moment and I know the John Carter movie itself has waited, actually it has waited 95 years! Many people don’t realize this, but the first John Carter novel, “A Princess of Mars” was actually written in the year 1917. That is not a typo. John Carter was actually on track to be the first animated created by Disney before “Snow White & the Seven Dwarves”. Another thing people are not aware of is that Edgar Rice Burroughs is the creator of Tarzan. Many modern day filmmakers have borrowed a lot from the John Carter novels over the years, including a filmmaker who just released a major blockbuster starring some blue aliens in space. It goes without saying that this was the movie that I have waited to see for a lifetime.
With such high expectations, I went into the film fearing that the movie wouldn’t be good and would fail miserably at the box office thereby ending any hope for sequels. I am happy to note that the film, although not the best film of all time, met my expectations and delivered a solid showing that I hope enough people will embrace to guarantee sequels.
So what is John Carter about anyway? John Carter is the story of a Confederate Civil War veteran in the 1800s, who stumbles into a cave and is transported to the planet Barsoom, which we call Mars. I won’t tell you how it happens, but the movie and the book have different explanations. Once John Carter arrives on Barsoom, he realizes that he can perform tremendous leaps and feats of strength due to the fact, Barsoom has lighter gravity. He is eventually captured by the Tharks, a race of 9 foottall four armed green men. After displaying feats of bravery and strength, John Carter is accepted in the “Horde” and made a member of the tribe. During his trials, the Princess of Mars, Dejah Thorris of Helium is being pursued by an evil Jeddak (King) Sabo Than who wishes to marry her and conquer all of Barsoom. In between John Carter trying to find his way home, he helps rescue Dejah Thorris and fights to free her and her people from the clutches of the evil Jeddak.
The cool thing about John Carter is the fact that this story is wrapped up in sword fights, gun fights and air battles between huge flying ships that are beautiful to behold. The imagination of Edgar Rice Burroughs is truly captured during the fighting and adventure scenes throughout the film. If you are looking for the beginning of a new adventure to be the Star Wars of the 21st century, you may have found it in John Carter.
Because of my passion for the John Carter novel series, which I have read multiple times over my life, it was hard for the film to fill up my mind for what I wanted to see on screen. I felt the filmmaker could have given us more on the screen to make this film seem even richer and more epic than was displayed on screen. My only hope is that the people of the world support the film, so we can see this great piece of fiction continue on the silver screen.