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Andrew Stanton
Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe
Writing Credits:
Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, Michael Chabon

Transported to Barsoom, a Civil War vet discovers a barren planet seemingly inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians who imprison him.

Box Office:
$250 million.
Opening Weekend
$30,180,188 on 3749 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13.

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

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

• Both 2D and 3D Versions
• 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


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


John Carter [Blu-Ray 3D] (2012)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (December 23, 2021)

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 figures – 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, actually, for while he isn’t bad, 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 feels 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, so 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 Disc 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 seemed clean at all times.

Given the arid setting of so much of the story, tans and reds often dominated. Some brighter hues appeared at times, 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 7.1 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.

This package includes both 2D and 3D versions of John Carter. The picture comments above reflect the 2D edition – how does the 3D compare?

In terms of visual quality, the 3D looked a little softer at times. Though the two usually offered similar definition, occasional wider shots felt a bit less accurate in the 3D edition. Still, those instances didn’t turn into notable distractions.

As for the stereo imaging, the 3D added pretty decent depth to the proceedings. Not a lot of standout material occurred, so don’t expect a particularly dynamic 3D presentation.

Nonetheless, the 3D brought a reasonable sense of the settings and action, one that occasionally became fairly fun. No one will use John Carter as a 3D demo reel, but this version offered a good way to watch the movie.

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.

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 2D 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. On the appropriate disc, we do find a 3D trailer for Frankenweenie.

A third 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, and the 3D version doesn’t impress enough to improve it.

To rate this film visit the prior review of the JOHN CARTER

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