John Carter also known as “John Carter of Mars”
Reviewed by: Raphael Vera
Better than Average
Teens Adults Family
Sci-Fi Action Adventure Fantasy Adaptation
2 hr. 12 min.
Year of Release:
March 9, 2012 (wide—3,500+ theaters)
“Lost in our world, found in another”
Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a former Confederate “rebel” who, soon after the Civil War, discovers a cave that, through either science or magic, transports him to the red planet Mars—or “Barsoom,” as the natives call it.
A thousand year war is drawing to a close, thanks to the sudden intervention of the mysterious hidden race of Barsoom called the Therns. They have chosen to give Sab Than (Dominic West) the power needed to force the rival state of Helium to surrender and for its Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) to marry him.
Upon arriving, John Carter discovers that Mars’ lower gravity gives him the ability to leap great distances, as well as great strength. He is soon captured and then “adopted” by Tars Tarkas (voiced by Willem Dafoe ) the leader of a race of fifteen-foot tall, green, multi-limbed beings called the Tharks.
Can John Carter, a stranger to this world, forge an alliance between the compassionless, war mongering Tharks and the scientifically advanced “red men” long enough to end the war and save a planet?
Language: Minor. “Hell” is the most frequently used curse among the few objectionable words in the film. The Lord’s name is misused once (G__damn) during the prologue, which takes place in the wild West of the 1880’s. Later, upon finally understanding where he is, John Carter says, “Good God, I’m on Mars!” which is acceptable, as Jesus himself said in reference to God the Father that, “There is only One who is good…” —Matthew 19:17.
Violence: Moderate. Though for the most part bloodless, with the exception being a scene involving giant white apes, violence is very present throughout much of the film and includes the use of swords, bullets, cannons and energy weapons. People, aliens, monsters and baby monsters (not seen) are killed, and one is beheaded. Many are simply disintegrated by the Thern’s energy weapon. The PG-13 rating is appropriate, as the violence is not acceptable for children under 12.
Sex/Nudity: Minor. Nothing beyond kissing is shown but the women’s attire, especially on Dejah Thoris is very revealing and cleavage is usually pronounced. Dejah even admits, regarding her wedding dress, that “this is vulgar for my tastes.” When John Carter is first placed with the Thark hatchlings (babies), they are all bathed together, though the scene is so quick that nothing explicit is shown.
Spiritual: Mild. On Barsoom many believe in the “goddess,” and the legendary Therns are said to be her holy messengers. The goddess is given the name of Isis, on a few occasions. Interesting to note how both mythological and actual demonic names often find themselves in movies with exactly the same spelling. “Mother Isis” is used as an expletive. The Tharks “survival of the fittest” and the wedding vows which speak of “celestial lovers rising from the sea” are both subtle nods to darwinistic theory which, contrary to the scientific method, begins with an unproven premise that there is no god.
A word about male/female role modeling. Barsoom (Mars) is a planet where warring factions are a way of life, so while John Carter is surprised to see Dejah more than able to defend herself with a sword, it does not seem overly out of place. John’s chivalry remains constant and is not dampened by her fighting capability.
Tar Tarkas and his daughter Sola both show compassion, which is very uncharacteristic of Tharks. When Sola shouts out “Father,” upon seeing him in the Arena, another Thark asks, “Are you mad?” to which she replies, “No, the blood of my father drives me!”
The main Thern (eerily played by Mark Strong) tells John Carter, “I do not exist. Indeed I work very hard at it.” Similar to the very real Devil we deal with in this world, the Thern’s are both worshipped and schemers, though secretly behind the scenes. The Thern also admits to how much work goes into destroying a planet, likewise reminiscent of the Devil planning nothing but destruction for us all.
A moving scene took place when Dejah Thoris sent her captain of the guard to bring John. In order to reach her, Carter has to make the biggest leap of his life, and he doubts he can do it. The captain merely says, “My Princess says that you can reach that.” Keeping his eyes on the goal, we are left with no doubt that Carter will make it. (see: faith)
Watching “John Carter” evoked similar feelings to when I viewed the original “Star Wars” release (“A New Hope”). The story moved briskly with pauses only to focus on the characters and a world in all its alien ways. The film was intended for 3D, and this added appreciable depth to the numerous action sequences. Exciting and humorous, with an intriguing storyline, I recommend it to audiences—teen and up—who are not looking for a sci-fi epic, as this is definitely more fantasy than science, and clearly more fun than thought-provoking.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Minor
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.
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