John Carter (2012 – Cinema)

“You are ugly… but you are beautiful”

I was a little dubious from the trailers and mixed reviews of Disney’s new 1/4 Billion Dollar film ‘John Carter’. But the lure of seeing a lavish CGI spectacle such as this in glorious IMAX-3D was too tempting to resist. ‘John Carter’ is based on ‘A Princess Of Mars’, the first of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Mars based fantasy novels. Director Andrew Stanton starts by trying to confuse us by jumping around in time and space before things thankfully settle down into the story of our eponymous 19th century hero’s adventures amongst the waring alien factions of Barsoom (aka the planet Mars).

Massive similarities to countless films such as ‘Stargate’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Attack Of The Clones’, ‘Waterworld’, ‘Planet of The Apes’, and even ‘Flash Gordon’ can’t be fully fended off with the quite genuine defence that the book was released almost a century before those movies… because unfortunately this film adaptation wasn’t. Those other celebrated fantasy movies have gutted all the best bits from Burroughs’ mythos for their own ends and there’s no getting round it.

Another more minor issue is that the costume department never manages to quite pull off that essential trick of fantasy cinema… making us believe on an instinctive level that what we are seeing is real. There’s something about the Romanesque armour and the wigs that just doesn’t sit right. But we’re not talking about ‘Thor’ or ‘Alexander’ level disasters though! Having said that, the sheer scale and ambition of the imagery is staggering I had a rollicking good time in this adventurous universe and by the end I was looking forward to the hinted sequel.

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