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Big Daddy Cool’s initial review of the film John Carter. More on the next episode of The Diesel Powered Podcast!
John Carter debuted in a magazine serial in 1912 and the first novelization of his adventures were published in 1917. Edgar Rice Burroughs continued to write John Carter stories through the 1940s. This makes John Carter THE template for sci-fi pulp adventure. All other ideas and conventions follow after him. Star Wars, Stargate, Planet of the Apes, Avatar. They all borrow from or spring directly from John Carter.
The producers of the film clearly understand that and make conscious choices to give nods to other sci-fi movies who owe their origins to John Carter. You will see scenes (and accompanying score) that remind you of Planet if the Apes (the original one, the good one with Charlton Heston), Star Wars (Phantom Menace and Jedi), Stargate, and Avatar. There are more references to be sure but these are the four that stuck out the most to me.
However, this is ultimately the biggest weakness of the film because modern filmgoers do not know the origins of this story. I talked to one family coming out and the daughter thought it was all jipped from other movies. The truth is that John Carter did it first, but Americans are ignorant and don’t know this. I fear most audiences will think this has all been done before, and while it has, it has been because of the inspiration of THE sci-fi pulp adventure hero template that Burroughs created.
Visually, movies don’t get any better. Costumes where remarkable, the creatures were the most real I’ve ever seen (sorry George) vehicles just spectaculat and over all it is just a fantastic adaptation of the source material!
As a stand alone movie it holds up well, the stories were a series and Disney did leave a door open to come back for more. I for one hope they do.