Disney is hoping that "John Carter" will be a very successful and popular movie that can then become a franchise with the potential for several future installments. Based on a story that has a very rich history as a series of science fiction novels written by Edgar Rice Burroughs, this movie is based on the first novel which was titled "Princess of Mars".
The story revolves around John Carter (played by Taylor Kitsch) who is a former soldier in search of gold in a post civil war United States that is still recovering from its most troubled time. An escape from a military prison and subsequent chase has Carter discovering a cave filled with gold but also leads to a confrontation with the military that wants him returned to prison and a meeting with a being that looks like a man, but is clearly not from this world.
After being rendered unconscious, Carter finds himself in the middle of what appears to be a desert, but soon discovers that he has actually been transported all the way to the planet Mars. What happens next is the beginning of an epic saga involving warring civilizations, alien races fighting for survival, creatures of all shapes and sizes, and in the middle of it all is a man who's main goal is just to get back home. At least that is until he meets the Princess that will change his life forever.
"John Carter" is a big movie with cutting edge special effects that really show how the genre has advanced technologically from the early days of CGI. Where the "Star Wars" prequels failed to create a photo realistic world and left audiences without the sense of realism that drew them in to the original trilogy, this movie succeeds in putting the characters, vehicles, and creatures in to scenes that look believable and natural.
The 3D conversion was also handled with precision and care and comes off looking really clean. There isn't a lot of stuff flying out of the screen at you, but the action really pops and there is a lot of added depth to the backgrounds and wide shots. It seems more and more like bad post-conversions along the lines of "Clash of the Titans" and "Conan" are definitely things of the past and we can look forward to a much higher standard from now on.
The story is a pretty straight forward action adventure with not a whole lot of detailed character development although this really mirrors the books and you can see where everything is being set up nicely to where this world can be fleshed out in future installments. The audience may get a little confused trying to keep up with all of the alien languages, names, and creatures, but not enough to be totally lost.
Along with Taylor Kitsch, the movie features Lynn Collins as Dejah Thoris, who is a princess that can handle her own when it comes to battling foes and protecting her people. The main villains, Matai Shang and Kantos Kan, are played by Mark Strong and James Purefoy respectively and Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Ciarán Hinds, and Samantha Morton all get to play CGI characters.
I have to say that I really enjoyed "John Carter". What really stood out for me was the truly epic scale that a lot of similar movies promise but fail to deliver. Andrew Stanton, who comes from the Pixar stable of directors, has really put together a solid effort that audiences will enjoy.