John Carter appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.40:1 on this Blu-Ray Disc. The vast majority of the image appeared great.
Sharpness seemed excellent. At no point did any issues with softness materialize. Instead, the movie almost always looked nicely detailed and concise. I saw no signs of jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement seemed absent. Print flaws also never reared their ugly head, as the movie stayed clean at all times.
Given the arid setting of so much of the story, tans and reds often dominated. Some brighter hues appeared occasionally, but those were the main colors. Whatever the palette at the time, the movie demonstrated tones that looked lively and accurate. Blacks seemed dense and firm, but shadows could be a little thick; a few shots seemed just a bit too dark. Despite that minor concern, this was usually a terrific presentation.
As for the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of Carter, it also worked well. The movie presented a fairly engaging soundfield. Not surprisingly, its best moments related to the mix of action scenes. These helped open up the spectrum pretty nicely.
Otherwise, we got good stereo impressions from the music along with solid environmental material. The latter reverberated in the rear speakers to positive effect, and some unique action material popped up there as well.
No problems with audio quality occurred. Speech was always concise and natural, and I noticed no edginess or other concerns. Music seemed bright and lively. Effects showed good distinctiveness, and they offered nice low-end when appropriate. All of this created a strong sonic impression that made the movie more involving.
When we shift to extras, we launch with an audio commentary from writer/director Andrew Stanton and producers Lindsey Collins and Jim Morris. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the project's roots and development, adaptation/story/character topics, cast and performances, stunts and action, animation and effects, sets and locations, costumes, makeup and production design, and some other areas.
While I might not be wild about the movie, the commentary is pretty darned terrific. Stanton probably dominates, but all three participants throw out a lot of good information, and we learn a ton across the movie's 132 minutes. The track moves at a nice clip and seems informative and fun along the way. Expect a lively, educational discussion here.
Under the banner of Second Screen, we find a different kind of picture-in-picture program, as it requires an external device to work best; you’re supposed to synchronize the Blu-ray to your computer or your iPad.
Normally I don’t review anything that requires an external connection; that’s why I’ve never touched on BD-Live, as I prefer only to discuss content that actually exists on the Blu-ray itself. I planned to make an exception for Second Screen, but alas, I was unable to take full advantage of the feature; as I write, the Blu-ray’s still eight days from retail release, so the Second Screen website hasn’t gone live yet. Some prior Second Screen-enabled Blu-rays offered a “dumbed down” version that worked as a form of picture-in-picture commentary, but that doesn’t happen here, so if you don’t activate the computer/iPad aspect, you’re out of luck. This left me unable to examine Second Screen.
We go behind the scenes with 100 Years in the Making. It lasts 10 minutes, 43 seconds and provides notes from Stanton, Morris, filmmaker Jon Favreau, novelist/screenwriter Michael Chabon, The Barsoom Project author Steven Barnes, Hayden Planetarium director Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson, actors Willem Dafoe and Taylor Kitsch, philosophy professor Dr. Robert Zeuschner, and production designer William Stout. We also hear some archival comments from novelist Edgar Rice Burroughs.
“Making” looks at Burroughs’ life and career as well as the John Carter stories and their slow move to the big screen. “Making” threatens to turn into gushy fanboy material at times, but it gives us more than enough data to ensure that it’s a worthwhile piece.
Including an introduction from Stanton, 10 Deleted Scenes run a total of 19 minutes, two seconds. These tend to offer basic exposition and/or minor character extensions. I can’t say that any of them seem particularly important or memorable.
We can watch the scenes with or without commentary from Stanton. He discusses aspects of the sequences as well as the reasons he cut them. Stanton continues to be informative and engaging here.
Under 360 Degrees of John Carter, we get a 34-minute, 32-second program. It includes notes from Stanton, Dafoe, second AD: crowd Samar Pollitt, makeup designer Bill Corso, costume designer Mayes Rubeo, visual effects supervisor Peter Chiang, stunt coordinator Tom Struthers, writer/2nd unit director Mark Andrews, catering assistant Jay Devins, craft service Magdalena Surma, set PA Toby Spanton, swordmaster Kevin McCurdy, and actors Lynn Collins, Katie Cecil, Faisal Abdalla, Douglas Robson, and Mark Strong.
“Degrees” takes us through “Shooting Day 52”, so expect tons of behind the scenes footage. Even the interview comments usually come straight from the set, so there’s a heavy emphasis on that side of things. This offers a nice production journal, as we get to follow a typical day in satisfying fashion.
We also get a Blooper Reel. It goes for one minute, 56 seconds and offers the usual goofs and giggles. Nothing particularly interesting emerges.
The disc opens with ads for The Avengers and Frankenweenie. These also pop up under Sneak Peeks along with a promo for Castle. No trailer for Carter appears here.
A second disc offers a DVD copy of the film. This delivers a retail version of that platter, so it’s a decent bonus.
John Carter leaves me tempted to write a two-word review: “it’s okay”. Which it is, as the movie consistently offers a perfectly decent sci-fi adventure. Unfortunately, I prefer movies that provoke greater enthusiasm than a general shrug, so I can’t offer much of an endorsement here. The Blu-ray delivers strong picture and audio along with a good selection of supplements led by a terrific commentary. Carter shouldn’t go down as a bad movie, but it’s pretty forgettable.