March 10, 2012 John Carter
Studio: Walt Disney Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.
About a hundred years ago, Edgar Rice Burroughs...who is better known for creating Tarzan...wrote a story about an Earthman who travels across space to Mars.
His creation is showcased in "John Carter." Just a few years after the Civil War, a Virginia cavalry soldier (Taylor Kitsch) is prospecting for gold in the old west. After having a run-in with some local government troops, he's mysteriously transported to the Red Planet. But, for a while he has a difficult time figuring out exactly where he is.
Once Carter assesses the situation he finds that Mars...or Barsoom...is at war. Two races are at each other's throats...with a group of mysterious overlords reaping the benefits of the conflict. Carter winds up in a dungeon..where he meets what is probably the movie's best character.
It's a martian version of a dog named Woola. Except it doesn't look much like a dog...it has six legs and more closely resembles a giant slug. At first, he's Carter's guard...but eventually he becomes his companion.
Together, along with a rescued princess (Lynn Collins) and a four-armed, green-skinned Martian, Carter sets out to find a way back home. Instead, he's drawn into the conflict and has to decide which army he's going to fight for.
Director Andrew Stanton, who has previously found success with the Pixar films "Finding Nemo" and "Wall-E"...gives this story just enough heart and humor to differentiate it from you average science fiction outing.
It's filled with clever moments...and some genuinely funny scenes. That's probably what you don't expect. However, there are also plenty of battle scenes...as Carter finds that the lower gravity of Mars has made him a kind of superhero. He has formidable strength and can leap great distances.
Carter also finds a love interest in the beautiful princess Dejah Thoris. As the star, Kitsch is good-looking and appropriately heroic. In her portrayal of the princess, Collins fills the role of feisty royalty fighting for her people...and Willem Dafoe provides the voice of Tars Tarkas..one of the four-armed aliens who has manages some of the movies best lines as he allows the the civil war to continue before eventually joining the fray.
I enjoyed "John Carter"...it's a well-made film...that despite some minor pacing issues clearly draws the lines between the heroes and villains. That's actually kind of refreshing these days.
On my rating scale, "John Carter" earns a TRIPLE.
COPS Tonight at 8:00 PM Stupid Behavior No. 5
After a man crashes into a sign and takes off on foot, he collapses complaining of heart trouble; officers find meth and possible stolen items in a suspect's pocket; a couple argues over a damaged wall