DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Andrew Stanton
Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Willem Dafoe, Thomas Haden Church, Bryan Cranston, Mark Strong, Ciarán Hinds
Writing Credits:
Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon, Edgar Rice Burroughs (story, "A Princess of Mars")

Lost in Our World. Found in Another.

From Academy Award(R)-winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton (Best Animated Film, Wall-E, 2008) comes John Carter - a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). 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. Stunning special effects, great characters and villains - and complete with extraordinary bonus features - John Carter is a heroic and inspirational adventure that will thrill you beyond imagination.

Box Office:
$250 million.
Opening Weekend
$30.180 million on 3749 screens.
Domestic Gross
$72.157 million.

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 7.1
English Descriptive Video 2.0
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 132 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/5/2012

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Andrew Stanton and Producers Lindsey Collins and Jim Morris
• “Second Screen” Interactive Feature
• “100 Years in the Making” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary
• Bloopers
• Sneak Peeks
• DVD Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

John Carter [Blu-Ray](2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (May 30, 2012)

While I think it did too well to be viewed as a legit bomb, John Carter turned into the poster child for 2012’s misfires. With a budget of $250 million, the sci-fi action flick took in a decidedly lackluster $72 million in the US. Granted, it did much better overseas – where it added $209 million to the US figure – but it still ended up as an expensive disappointment.

Creatively, it offers a bit of a letdown too, as it gives us a pretty lackluster cinematic adventure. A preface introduces us to the population of Mars – aka “Barsoom” - and the centuries of civil war endured by its inhabitants. The “predator city” of Zodanga attempts to conquer the entire planet and ultimately face off against residents of Helium, the sole remaining base of resistance.

Mystical beings called Therns – who thrive on conflict - give Zodanga warrior Sab Than (Dominic West) a super-powerful weapon that tilts the balance of power. Sab Than will call off the attack only if Helium Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) marries him. She’s not too happy about this prospect.

In the meantime, we go to 1868 and meet former Confederate soldier John Carter (Taylor Kitsch). When he ends up in a mysterious Arizona cave, he gets transported to Mars/Barsoom and finds himself among its natives: 12-foot-tall green creatures called Tharks. Eventually he winds up involved in the planet’s war, where – aided by the super-powers he gains in the atmosphere – he might just make a difference.

But will he keep the viewer awake? Maybe, but I find it hard to muster any passion about Carter in either direction. I’d love to come here and tell you it’s an unjustly maligned instant classic, but that’s not true. I also can’t claim that it’s a stink-fest destined to be recalled as one of the all-time clunkers.

Instead, Carter is one of those movies that’s completely adequate and that’s about all. At no point does it threaten to become a bust or to deserve status as a notorious dud, but it also fails to do much to elevate itself above its sci-fi/action brethren. It provides perfectly average filmmaking that gives the viewer mild entertainment and vanishes from memory almost immediately.

Which sucks for your lovable reviewer, as he finds it awfully tough to think of much to say about such an anonymous film. The actors? They’re okay. Kitsch may be the weakest link; while he isn’t a bad performer, he lacks the charisma necessary to carry the movie. The others fare better, and Collins is pretty good as the sexy but tough princess, but none of them manage to lift the film above its generally pedestrian feel.

Part of the problem is that Carter seems like an amalgam of many other films and lacks a particularly coherent narrative. It attempts to pack a lot of characters and themes into its 132 minutes, and it doesn’t do so in a smooth, integrated manner. The flick starts with awkward jumps in time/place and never quite recovers, as it remains somewhat disjointed until the end.

As for the action and effects, they’re also perfectly serviceable but uninspired. Actually, I’m not wild about the film’s CG; I realize a movie like this would be tough to execute without computer visuals, but they still leave me moderately unconvinced. The movie’s many action sequences demonstrate occasional pep but they don’t manage to truly excite; they’re passable diversions that lack great verve.

And that remains true for the rest of John Carter. Like its title – oddly stripped of the Of Mars that would give the flick some identity – this is a pretty bland affair. Nothing here warrants severe criticism, but little about the film deserves much praise, either.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio A-/ Bonus B

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.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.9787 Stars Number of Votes: 47
1 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main