Based on the century old “Barsoom” series by Edgar Rice Burroughs, “John Carter” is Disney’s first entry into the 2012 blockbuster season. The book series inspired the Star Wars films and James Cameron’s “Avatar,” and many others in the science fiction genre.
The movie follows Capt. John Carter, who has been mining for gold in the Arizona mountains. After he is transported to Barsoom, which is the alien race’s name for Mars, he becomes embroiled in a centuries old war between the races of that planet.
His first encounter is with the Tharks, a four-armed green-skinned race inhabiting the planet, a race reminiscent of Jar Jar Binks in the Star Wars saga. He later encounters the race the Red Martians, who mistake him for a member of the White Martian race, the Therns, who were the messengers of their Goddess.
The main antagonist of the movie, has been pursuing Dejah Thoris, a runaway princess. Sab Than has waged a war on the planet, and has agreed to spare Helium, if he is able to marry Dejah and unite their two cities.
John Carter arrives in the midst of this war, and his superhuman abilities, such as increased strength and the ability to leap great distances, caused by the lesser gravity of Mars, makes him a valuable asset to the side he chooses.
The movie was made on a budget exceeding $200 million, and with relative unknown Taylor Kitsch in the lead role, was a gamble for Disney in the already saturated space travel genre of movies. Although this movie inspired many of the past centuries greatest space movies, it is rather unremarkable in this time where we’ve already seen the other side of the universe, and superheroes with far greater abilities now walk the big screen.
The movie follows the source material fairly closely, but again, this is hardly a new area in which to venture. Whereas John Carter of the books is immortal, the character’s time on the big screen may be fairly limited.
It is already considered a flop, with a domestic opening weekend haul of barely $30 million, but has seen far more love in the foreign box office, and that may save the trilogy being planned by the creators of this film.
It was a fairly premature entry for Disney, and would have maybe seen a bigger box office opening in the summer season.