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John Carter: Old-Fashioned Sci-Fi Leaps to Life

Like a steampunk Jules Verne novel with a $250 million budget.

Chris Queen


March 17, 2012 - 12:28 am
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These days, it’s hard to find a movie that doesn’t have some sort of political — read, Marxist — agenda. Seems like almost every film these days offers up some fable about climate change or an anti-war screed. John Carter avoid this. If it has a message of any kind, it’s “fight for what you believe in.” John Carter calls himself a man without a cause in the first half but he turns into a great warrior and uniter of tribes for the cause of preserving the freedom of Barsoom.

Director-writer Andrew Stanton recreates Burroughs’ vision of life on Barsoom in the 1860s, and co-writers Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon bring the characters to life. The special effects maintain the same old-fashioned feel as the rest of the film yet still thrill.

With as much excitement and fun as John Carter provides, several flaws mar the film: slow pacing in some spots, while earlier the narrative jumped so fast I lost track. The characters are stock types, but I guess that’s as much a flaw of Burroughs’ as the screenwriters’ fault. Michael Giacchino‘s score tried too hard; I expected better from the award-winning composer of Lost.

Late in John Carter, nearly defeated Thark leader Tars Tarkas (voiced by Willem Dafoe), speaks with Carter as theylanguish in chains, courtesy of a challenge to Tarkas’ throne. He admits to Carter that the man from Earth restored his faith in new ideas and dreams. He tells Carter:

When I saw you, I believed it was a sign — that something new can come into this world.

In a way, that’s what John Carter is — an escape from the modern science fiction/action blockbuster, a throwback to old-fashioned films with unambiguous heroes and villains.

Chris Queen hails from Covington, GA. Check out his website,, and follow him on Twitter.

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All Chris Queen wanted to be growing up was a game show host, a weather man, or James Bond. But his writing talent won out. By day, Chris is a somewhat mild-mannered church communications director, but by night, he keeps his finger on the pulse of pop culture and writes about it. In addition to his Disney obsession (as evidenced by his posts on this website), Chris's interests include college sports -- especially his beloved Georgia Bulldogs -- and a wide variety of music. A native of Marietta, GA, Chris moved with his family as a child to nearby Covington, GA, where he still makes his home. He is an active charter member of Eastridge Community Church and enjoys spending time with family and friends. In addition to his work at PJ Media, Chris spent nearly a year as a contributor to NewsReal Blog. He has also written for Celebrations Magazine and two newspapers in Metro Atlanta. Check out his website,
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