John Carter 2012 ★★★½

Civil War vet John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is transported to Mars, where he discovers a lush, wildly diverse planet whose main inhabitants are 12-foot tall green barbarians, Tharks. Finding himself a prisoner of these creatures, he escapes, only to encounter Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), Princess of Helium, who is in desperate need of a saviour. Will John Carter help her to get her kingdom back and will he be able to get back to Earth?

Mainly based on the Edgar Rice Burroughs 100 year old book titled 'A Princess of Mars', this epic sci-fi fantasy has a lot going for it, a massive budget plus a visionary director who has dreamt of this film since he was 12. It swells with broad strokes of escapism, derring-do and fantastical characters. So much is packed into the just over two hour running time that your head may spin at times with all the different races and species you get along the ride. This is all handled with a deft touch by Pixar director Andrew Stanton, with this being his first live action film; his epic scope doesn't lose focus of the heartfelt story at its centre. Michael Giacchino's sweeping and majestic score is a thing of aural beauty too, bringing us on the voyage of discovery with Carter himself, it amazes and lifts the film to another level.

Because many films like Star Wars, Flash Gordon and Avatar have stolen story points from the source material, some of the movie will feel familiar to most people but that's not to say that it isn't enjoyable while it lasts. The movie could be all serious but it has so much fun elements to it too, with Carter's pet following him around everywhere being a highlight, when he's trying to get used to the gravity on Mars is a hoot too, there are other subtle comedic touches that bring a lift to what could have been a pretty standard story. There are talks of the budget ranging between €200 and €300 million, which is an astounding amount of money in this day and age, but i can assure you that it is all up there on the screen with some of the best CGI I've seen since 'Avatar', whether it will make its cost back is another story. The 3D is pretty pointless though with nothing to talk about in regards to the depth of the picture which is a real shame.

The cast are good if not outstanding with Taylor Kitsch being a bit of a knob to start off but he grows on you and by the end you're routing for him to win the girl and the day. Ciaran Hinds pops up in cameo role and chews some scenery while Lynn Collins is stunning as the heroine who is a match for Carter. Dominic West and Mark Strong play the villains and while the former is quite a whiny character, the latter is full of genuine menace that you'll be hoping for his demise at every turn. Willem Dafoe and Samantha Morton play two of the alien Martians and almost steal the whole movie away from everyone else.

There seems to be a backlash to this movie before it even comes out which is a disgrace as it is a rollicking good ride, I’ll admit the publicity hasn't been handle right, which is going to hurt it, but if you give it a chance it'll be worth your while. With this being based on the first in a long series of John Carter books, Disney are hoping that it's a big hit and i for one would welcome a return to this world again. A movie for all ages and even possibly the new 'Star Wars' for many young kids who see it today.

This is a rip-roaring ride of a movie that people of all ages will love, if they can just get over the cheesy nature of the film and the fact that some of it seems familiar then they will love it.

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