'John Carter' (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo)
(Taylor Kitsch, Ciarán Hinds, Dominic West, Willem Dafoe, Lynn Collins, Thomas Haden Church, et al / 2-Disc Blu ray+DVD / PG-13 / 2012 / Disney)
Overview: Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs's classic novel, John Carter is a war-weary, former military captain who's inexplicably transported to Mars and reluctantly becomes embroiled in an epic conflict. It's a world on the brink of collapse, and Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.
DVD+Blu Ray Verdict: OK, for the record, I went into this movie from the off knowing the tremendous backlash cast against the film! All the stories of how 'John Carter' was already setting the record for worst box-office flop of all time! Of how it cost $250 million to make and yet only earnt $17 million on its opening weekend. And of how the man who green lit it either resigned or was fired, depending on who you listen to!
But, that said, 'John Carter' isn't the worst film ever made or even especially horrible! Indeed, worldwide, 'John Carter' grossed $180 million in just ten days. That's an amazing performance for a film, granted, even if the budget was that already-mentioned whopping $250 million! And, even as the opening ten minutes unfolded before me, leaving me hand on remote ready for fast-forward gratification, I was still not convinced by all the media hype shadowing it. I mean, sure it was absurd, the first sight of the towering green, four-armed Martian warriors reminding me so much of a disturbed sibling of Jar Jar Binks, but darn if the movie didn't begin to dig in and settle down - and become a downright enjoyable 2.5 hour tale!
OK, the basic premise is that John Carter is a Civil War veteran who in 1868 was trying to live a normal life with his wife and young boy. But, when asked by the Army to join he refuses, is locked up, escapes, is hunted, and eventually finds his way into a cave - made of gold (don't ask!) There he encounters a mystical figure holding a glowing medallion of sorts, which once he grabs onto transports him - to Mars (or Barsoom, as they would have you call it!) There he finds due to his bone structure he can leap incredible heights, has stronger strength in general, and runs into a war that only (seemingly) he can help win for the all the right reasons!
Along the way he falls in love with Princess Dejah Thoris (played in true Pocahontas style by Lynn Collins), begins to communicate (and get along with) with his green, four-armed Martian warriors, and when not trying to turn into Tarzan himself, does his best to try and make us aware we're not watching some corny Star Wars spin-off!
Taylor Kitsch as John Carter sadly gives a wooden, if not single-dimension performance, as so too does Lynn Collins as Princess Dejah Thoris. But Ciaran Hinds is just one of those actors who can't put a foot wrong, and no matter what role he undertakes he does it to the max. Mark Strong plays the same character (down to the slicked back hair and mouth-just-open-enough-to-speak pose) as he plays in nearly every other role he's had (think Sherlock Holmes). And then come the voices behind the characters that you know you know, but can't put your finger on until the final credits! The best for these would be Willem Dafoe as leader Tars Tarkus. And as his daughter, Sarkoja the always-lovely Polly Walker.
In closing, the audio commentary with Director Andrew Stanton and some of the Film Makers is proof that even they knew they were aboard something that was out of their control long before the budget started bitting their collective asses! Nearly the entire way through the 2.5 hour long rambles, they try and cover up how things could have been done differently, cheaper we assume, but were it not for the out of control CGI requests each day of shooting. And so, yes, 'John Carter's CGI may not be polished, and suspending disbelief is necessary, but it was SO much fun to watch! This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs and comes with the Special Features of:
• Blu-ray Feature Film + Bonus
• DVD Feature Film+ Bonus
• Disney Second Screen
• 360 Degrees of John Carter
• Deleted Scene with Option Commentary by Director Andrew Stanton
• Barsoom Bloopers
• 100 Years in the Making (DVD Fixture)
• Audio Commentary with Film Makers (DVD Fixture)