John Carter is based on a pulp science fiction story from the golden era of science fiction, written by a popular author who is now better known for his series of Tarzan the Ape Man books, a story that transplants the political tensions of Europe and the world just before World War I broke out to the Red Planet Mars.
John Carter (a rugged Taylor Kitsch) is an American Civil War soldier who has deserted his regiment to quest for gold and treasure. He's imprisoned for deserting, but is more interested in his quest than in the needs of his country and refuses to return to his regiment. He escapes the brig and is mysteriously transported to Mars, where he finds himself in the middle of a massive worldwide war between the residents of Barsoom, as they call their planet. Because of the lower gravity, Carter finds that he has amazing, superhuman powers and can't help but get caught up in the situation. When the beautiful Dejah Thoris, Princess of Mars (Lynn Collins), entreats him to help, will he?
The film adaptation of this first book in Edgar Rice Burrough's Barsoom series, A Princess of Mars, is a difficult task, with its hordes of 12-foot creatures, massive structures and barren, alien landscapes, but director Andrew Stanton and his production team have done an amazing job with John Carter (originally John Carter of Mars). Not since Star Wars can I remember feeling such delight as I watched the sweeping epic of John Carter unfold on the screen.
The story is ultimately about both Carter finding himself and a love story between him and Princess Thoris, who finds him irresistible as the strange off-planet ruffian with odd ideas and extraordinary strength, and it's neither deep nor profound. This isn't Tree of Life: Martian Edition. Instead, it's a film in the sweeping action adventure vein of Star Wars and Indiana Jones, a wonderous, joyful adventure with a number of surprise twists, including an unusually satisfying surprise ending that had theatergoers laughing and clapping, clearly enjoying themselves.