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The Disney Review

John Carter, the Blu-ray Experience

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by , 06-01-2012 at 10:14 PM

John Carter
was one of the biggest box office black eyes that the Company has seen in a long time. Blame was pointed everywhere, from Marketing to famed animation director Andrew Stanton.

But is this a movie you should avoid or one you should embrace now that it is available on Blu-ray?

I have to admit that I had a high interest in this film when the first inklings started to appear online. It looked epic and many Disney bloggers were finding it hard to contain their fan-boy praise of the novel.

I reviewed the novelization/original novel at Imaginerding and I was actually glad to have read it before seeing the movie, since it answered some nagging questions that kept popping up.

As expected, the movie veers slightly from the book in order to sate a modern viewer. In the original 1912 novel, Edgar Rice Burroughs paints the Princess as a more demur and flowery Martian. She is feisty, like a good princess should be, but she wasn't involved in the battles like the movie version.

Right off the bat, I found the terminology of the Martian language and caste system to be a hindrance to the film. Even though I had read the novel and knew all of the characters, it was still difficult to follow the alliances made and the names of some of the characters. Jeddak, Dejah, Tharks, Zodanga...all seem to run together at first and we were still piecing together the characters by the film's end. Are we pulling for the army with the red or blue capes?

I remember a lot of marketing that touted John Carter as the major influence of most modern science fiction/fantasy novels and films. George Lucas and Steven Spielberg credit the book as an inspiration, so I was looking for ways to tie this film back to Star Wars. As a friend put it after previewing the film with me, it was weird thinking that it was copying Star Wars when Star Wars copied the novel in some aspects. That being said, I really felt like I was watching the Geonosis scenes from Attack of the Clones for most of the John Carter film.

John Carter is epic. The vistas and locations are huge. The Martians are credible and extremely photo-realistic. The animation of the characters was so well done that you actually paid attention to the acting versus the effects.

The effects were superb and Disney did a great job with their first major CGI production. They created a living world that had as much credibility as one could hope for. I also never felt like the film used special effects just to use special effects. To me, knowing Stanton's background, he used the CGI to create the world and the special effects are a part of that world instead of dominating it! It never felt like the special effects overpowered the film, like you see in some summer movie releases.

The highlight of the entire film was Woola, the six-legged, dog-like creature that becomes Carter's best friend and protector. Everytime Woola was on screen, he stole the scene and provide the major comedy of the film. Disney could extend the franchise by creating some Pixar-like Woola shorts for some of their future sci-fi releases.

The extras on the Blu-ray are alright for a film of this caliber. My favorite extra was 100 Years in the Making, which looks at Edgar Rice burroughs and the creation of the original pulp series. You get a greater sense of how influential Princess of Mars really was.

Blu-ray bonus features:
  • Disney Second Screen – Explore John Carter’s journal with this innovative in-world experience and uncover a trove of fascinating details that extend the mythology of the movie.
  • 360 Degrees of John Carter – Experience every aspect of the filmmaking process on one of the movie’s biggest production days.
  • Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Director, Andrew Stanton
  • Barsoom Bloopers
  • 100 Years In The Making – Follow the journey of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ story, from its origins as a pulp novel to its arrival onscreen.
  • Audio Commentary with Filmmakers

John Carter is a fun film, but when you stack it up against a tremendous blockbuster like The Avengers, you can see how it falls short of the mark in several areas. The film has a good story, but didn't seem to capture our attention for the whole film. If you like the book or are a fan of the novels, then you should definitely check it out. It is a great Saturday night popcorn film with friends and family.

So, is John Carter a purchase or a rental?

What did you think about the film after all of the media and marketing hype? Would a different marketing plan have made the movie better received?

By George Taylor

The Disney Review is written and edited by Jeff Heimbuch and George Taylor

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to email us at [email protected] or [email protected]

You can follow us on Twitter @imaginerding (George) and @JeffHeimbuch

Other places you can find George and Jeff:

You can also see us EVERY week on Communicore Weekly on the Mice Chat Youtube Channel

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Updated 06-03-2012 at 05:44 PM by The Disney Review



  1. Bronco21's Avatar
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    I really enjoyed John Carter and I am still upset that of all the films they decided to half *** the marketing on it. The acting was meh at times, the names are hard to remember (even when you've read the books it can get confusing), and it is very different from the books, but none of that affected my enjoyment of this movie. Don't let the horrendous losses Disney has because of poor marketing. This movie is very good just not great. I'd say in terms of recent movies I'd put it in line with Transformers 2 (even though it's my least favorite transformer movie).
  2. DocSc00teR's Avatar
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    Personally, our whole family really LOVED "John Carter." Okay, so the plot was pretty thin. (Hero goes to Mars. Hero meets princess. Villain does villainous things. Hero defeats villain and rescues the princess.) But that's okay. The movie was FUN! Big, splashy, engaging, entertaining fun. The books may have been the big influence on modern science fiction, and the movie may not leave us with a memorable franchise to exploit for big bucks, but I really wish Disney would have done more with this film that could lead to some sequels.

    We didn't go to the theaters with high expectations; we figured it would just be a fun "summer bubblegum" kind of film. And it was... but a really GOOD one. So we recommended it to a lot of folks who said they hadn't even heard of it (which tells us something about Disney's low expectations and failed marketing with this film). And every single friend who followed our recommendation and saw the film came back and said how surprisingly FUN it was. (There's that word again, eh?)
  3. mratigan's Avatar
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    When I saw it on march 9 there were only 9 other people with me
    i can't wait for the second screen to come out
  4. ImagiNERDing's Avatar
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    Thanks for the comments! I was torn about it. We enjoyed it, but it was hard to keep our attention all the time. My personal barometer was that I didn't want to watch it a second time.

    I still think people will enjoy it, but I can't wholeheartedly recommend it. Unlike Avengers, which I have seen twice and still want to see again. JC was mindless entertainment that made me think whereas the Avengers was thoughtful entertainment that didn't make me think consciously.
  5. AzGizmo's Avatar
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    I loved this move enormously. Is it an Avengers caliber film? No, but then it didn't pretend to be. It was precisely what Burroughs had intended it to be, which is a very entertaining and engaging story.

    This is a popcorn film, and sometimes after a hard day, that's precisely what the brain needs; a popcorn flick!!!
  6. socalkdg's Avatar
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    282 million world wide. A disappointment, but hopefully with Blu Ray sales and rentals, make most of its money back. I saw at the theater and it was good, but confusing for my younger daughter. Still fun.
  7. MrTour's Avatar
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    The movie was GREAT! It entertained and took me to a place I had never been before. I am sad to think there may be no sequels.
  8. StrongStyle's Avatar
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    I actually just posted a 5,000 word blog on Friday about John Carter, what I thought and what I think went wrong with its success. I also compared it to the other releases during the Ross/Carney era.

    I will certainly be buying the BluRay

    FuseMP - A Glimpse Into My Head: John Carter of What The Hell Happenned?!?!?!
  9. Internitty's Avatar
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    I've already pre ordered my blu ray copy, I came out of the theatre looking to see if I had enough money in my pocket to see it again later the same day. I had no problems with any of the alliances or terminology, my only real issue was the Edgar Rice Burrows sub story, I really don't think it was necessary.

    I read comparisons to Avatar, I can see why but really it's only a minor link and I think that it has become the in thing to down and belittle every major film nowdays, online many people seem to think it makes them cool to hate everything and then there are the people not capable of making up their own minds and relying on strangers to tell them what to like.

    I have issues with Disney pulling promotion for the film, just as they did with The Rescuers Down Under another great film that they just decided to write off without giving it a chance. I also have issues with the marketing genius that decided you couldn't have the word Mars in the title. Titles are important to a film because they are the first impression a viewer has with a film, this film could have been helped with a different title, John Carter and A Princess of Mars or even John Carter of Mars would have helped enormously.

    I know they won't do it but I would love to see more John Carter films but then I never thought they'd make a second Tron film so there is always hope.