Disney’s “John Carter” Blu-Ray/DVD Review
Kidzworld checks out "John Carter", the big Sci-Fi Adventure film now on home video.
By: Lynn Barker
A Civil War soldier finds a magical passageway between worlds, ends up on Mars where he kicks major butt and falls for and marries a princess, all while helping the good guys win their own civil war. When he is transported back to Earth against his will, it’s up to one of the “Spy Kids” (a grown up Daryl Sabara who played Juni Cortez) to help him get back to his Martian lady love.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch of Battleship) is a sad (his wife and son were killed) war-weary soldier from the U.S. Civil War who seems to have turned into a treasure hunter. In the American West, he manages to tick off both Indians and the U.S. Cavalry. Escaping into a cave, he finds a strange device that, when activated, transports him to the planet Barsoom (we call it Mars).
When the Barsoom locals (two human-like races plus 4-armed “Tharks” ) see that he can literally leap tall buildings in a single bound (due to the light gravity), they all want Carter on their team but as slave labor. Slave turns to hero and leader when Carter meets and falls for feisty princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins of Wolverine) and realizes that the Tharks need to team up with her people, of the city-state Helium, to defeat the evil empire of Zodanga whose leader Sab Than (Dominic West) wants to marry Dejah in order to take over the entire planet.
After many struggles and battles, Carter and Dejah settle into a happy life until more bad guys send him back to Earth. Carter finally is able to get his hands on another transportation device and it’s up to his nephew Edgar (Daryl Sabara) to help him teleport back to Barsoom while keeping an important secret.
We got the 2-disc combo pack. “Disney Second Screen” lets you get trivia and interesting facts from “John Carter’s Journal” in a small window while you watch the movie. Good after you’ve seen it once.
“Barsoom Bloopers” is the gag reel and it’s pretty funny. Lots of silly dancing on set, cameramen tripping and falling down, Taylor Kitsch zooming in on wires…and falling down, mugging for the camera. Well worth a watch.
“100 Years in the Making” – is a featurette giving you the rich history of the novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs. The movie is based on “A Princess of Mars”, one of several “John Carter” adventures in his book series. The director and others talk about discovering the comic books based on the novels when teens or kids. The tale was once going to be animated, etc. Interesting backstory.
“Deleted Scenes” – Several really good ones! The most worthy is a totally new opening in which we see Princess Dejah as a real scientist having developed a new power device she hopes would be used for peace, not war. The fact that Mars is a dying planet fought over by several factions is explained. This really sets up the film better and is well worth a look.
You also get a brief scene with Daryl Sabara’s character at college dreaming about far-away worlds etc. Also a nice set-up for the character. Some of these deleted scenes feature no special effects but very funny, drawn in creatures.. totally worth it for a laugh. You also see Willem Dafoe, who plays the leader of the Tharks, on stilts in a motion capture suit and John Carter riding an ATV that is later to be CGI’d in as a big creature. Just weirdly fun.
“360 Degrees of John Carter” is the “making-of” documentary and it chronicles an entire day on set from early morning until night. Actors arrive and get into complicated makeup (Lynn Collins’ princess makeup is especially amazing), SPFX guys talk about green screen action, extras goof off and talk about their parts as soldiers etc. You see a big battle on large sets with green screen backgrounds and Lynn has a scene fighting with her double. A really good example of an entire day on set making a movie.
“Audio Commentary” by director Andrew Stanton and producers is pretty upbeat as they discuss casting, production, effects and problems etc. Interesting to listen to after you’ve seen the film.
This John Carter Blu-Ray plus DVD set is full of nice extras. The picture and sound on the film is wonderful. The movie is a family-friendly popcorn muncher space adventure in the tradition of Star Wars and Avatar.
Characters are interesting and you can root for both Carter and Princess Dejah, a scientist and warrior woman who saves Carter as much as he saves her. I fell in love with the devoted mega-cute lizard/dog Woola who bonds to Carter as soon as he arrives. There just may be too many characters, relationships and types of creatures to keep track of easily.
The look of the movie is pretty amazing as are the ships, props, sets, etc.
The film crashed and burned in theaters partially due to marketing. Who the heck knows what a movie called John Carter is about? The original title was John Carter of Mars which at least lets you know it’s a space epic.
I say for sure rent this movie if you didn’t see it. It is way better than the critics said and you might then want to add it to your collection. Break out the popcorn and besties and you’ll take quite a fun ride.
For a rousing action adventure that looks great and for the very nice special features on this set, we are going 4 stars
John Carter Rating: