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A Princess of Mars
It has taken a while to start this review. Usually I know exactly what I want to write as I have an immediate impression of a film, and I am sure of my opinion.
Not so with this film. I usually have my ear to the ground about any upcoming sci-fi or fantasy films. We are all looking forward to the upcoming Marvel Avengers in my house. And we have watched the preceding films with great interest. We love Marvel (one son), Star Wars (the originals only sorry), DC (one daughter), Dr Who, and we couldn’t wait for the Hunger Games. No realism for this family – we are all about the fantasy.
What was particularly interesting about this film was it appeared to come out of nowhere. Most films are in pre-production for many years before they actually happen, and very little seemed to filter through to build up anticipation of its release. Usually Disney is splendid at getting the word out about an up coming film.
And with such a fabulous director, Andrew Stanton (of Find Nemo – one of my all time favourite animated features) at the helm, there should have been a lot more buzz about this film than there was.
Based on the Edgar Rice Burrough book A Princess of Mars (1917), it is actually 100 years since the character of John Carter of Mars appeared in a serialised story in a magazine. After Burrough's success with his Tarzan series, the story was released as the first of 10 novels (the last released after his death in 1964). With such incredible pedigree – fantasy/science fiction 100 years old, there should have been more fanfare about this movie than there was.
For this film to be saddled with the notorious reputation of possibly being the biggest flop of all time is a great tragedy. Because it is actually a great film! It really is a great film. It has a great naivety about it – and even though it is over-acted in spots – its old-fashioned air somehow makes it work. It is incredible to think that the story this was based on was written so long ago – it is an interesting representation of what an alternative universe could look like.
The story revolves around John Carter of Virginia, a Confederate soldier hardened by loss and the harrowing nature of war. He is taken from earth and deposited (via astral projection) on the war-ravaged Mars. He finds he has all the attributes of his earthly body and due to differences in gravity, is much stronger on Mars. He becomes involved with the power struggle between two races on Mars – and manages to fall in love with the Princess of Mars (hence the original title). With a great smattering of English actors, Ciaran Hinds and Samantha Morton, and the fantastic Willem Dafoe voicing one of the computer-generated characters, there is a sterling cast.
The relatively unknown Taylor Kitsch is cast as the handsome John Carter, and Lynn Collins is his Princess. That is about as much story line as I would like to tell you – better to watch it without knowing too much (like me).
Maybe all this could have been made better by a simple change of title – John Carter of Mars was the original working title for this film – and would have let everyone know what they were in for – and the end credits of the current even have a monogram with the letters JCM (John Carter of Mars). Go see it. This is a film that deserves to be seen on a big screen. You won''t be disappointed. It’s a 7 out of 10.
By Anya Brighouse 4 April 2012