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John Carter (***)
directed by Andrew Stanton
written by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews, and Michael Chabon,
from the novel A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Principal Cast
Taylor Kitsch -- John Carter
Lynn Collins -- Dejah Thoris
Samantha Morton -- Sola
Willem Dafoe -- Tars Tarkas
Thomas Haden Church -- Tal Hajus
Mark Strong -- Matai Shang
Ciarán Hinds -- Tardos Mors
Dominic West -- Sab Than
James Purefoy -- Kantos Kan
Bryan Cranston -- Powell
Polly Walker -- Sarkoja
Daryl Sabara -- Edgar Rice Burroughs
Ratings are based on Rick's four star system.
One star - the commercials are more entertaining than the viewing.
Two stars - watch if you have nothing better to do.
Three stars - good solid entertainment.
Four stars - you never dreamed viewing could be this good.
Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rick Norwood

John Carter Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote ten novels set on the planet Barsoom, starting with A Princess of Mars in 1912. There is an eleventh book in the series collecting two shorter works, one by ERB, the other by his son John.

Andrew Stanton has written some of the greatest animated films of modern times, including Finding Nemo, Toy Story III, and Wall-E.

Don't pay any attention to the reviews -- this is a fun movie. The preview I saw in theaters was awful -- it made it seem as if the film had no plot, just zillions of CGI green men. Actually, the movie follows the ERB Mars novels fairly closely, and where it departs from them, it improves on them. I saw a much better preview on the Blu-Ray of Helen Mirren's The Tempest, one that reminded me of the preview for The Phantom Menace -- a movie which also got bad reviews, you may remember. John Carter is doing much better box office overseas than in the US.

With an excellent director and excellent writers, why isn't it even better? For one thing, putting anti-war sentiment in the mouth of the Warlord of Mars is out of character. For another, directing animation does not necessarily prepare a director for live action. And better music would have made a big difference.

But I've always loved Woola the Calot Dog.

Copyright © 2012 Rick Norwood

Rick Norwood is a mathematician and writer whose small press publishing house, Manuscript Press, has published books by Hal Clement, R.A. Lafferty, and Hal Foster. He is also the editor of Comics Revue Monthly, which publishes such classic comic strips as Flash Gordon, Sky Masters, Modesty Blaise, Tarzan, Odd Bodkins, Casey Ruggles, The Phantom, Gasoline Alley, Krazy Kat, Alley Oop, Little Orphan Annie, Barnaby, Buz Sawyer, and Steve Canyon. Visit his web site at

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