When I was growing up, I read a lot of Hardy Boys books that were written more recently called Casefiles. They were more pulpy than the old Hardy Boy books – less smugglers. But I never got into old fashioned pulp. I turned to Agatha Christie novels and noir books instead. And that has always been my wheelhouse since. Sci-Fi novels also missed my eyes. I would read a few but I didn’t gravitate to them like I did with anything crime-related.
But when John Carter first had trailers, I looked into the story. I didn’t read the books because I assumed it would be very different, but it had a pedigree I liked. Disney does movies pretty well, generally, and to have Andrew Stanton attached, who directed Wall-E, one of my favorite Sci-Fi films ever, they had my money. So, I went on Saturday with John.
We both loved it. It was a great mix of science fiction, western, and love story. There were also mysterious elements that made it even better. But it was also Taylor Kitsch that sold me on the movie. Tim Riggins is one of my favorite characters in television history, so I may even see that Battleship movie against my better judgment due to Peter Berg’s involvement as well.
John Carter is a former Confederate soldier, like Jonah Hex, who is out west trying to make a life away from his soldier days. He gets pulled in by the U.S. Army to fight the Apache and ends up finding a cave that is a doorway of sorts to Mars. But he doesn’t realize this at all – even when he can jump due to different gravitational pulls. And he arrives in the middle of a war. It’s a setup that seems familiar and the story isn’t surprising or twist-filled, but it has enough interesting characters and plot points to really create a successful story.
The imagery is also beautiful. I didn’t see it in 3D or in IMAX but it doesn’t seem necessary. All of the long shots of Mars or the battle scenes between different airships were amazing. The solar panels that provide power to the ships shined. The moons provided a nice backdrop. And if nothing else, the aliens were all pretty cool.
The best way to figure out, in my opinion, if a story works is if you want more. I immediately downloaded three John Carter novels to read. So, take that as a yes!