John Carter – A Movie Review

John Carter – A Movie Review by M

Dejah Thoris in warrior pose from John Carter Disney movie

Dejah Thoris – My kind of Princess

Finally, a Disney Princess I can get behind!

Having never read the books, I was unfamiliar with the John Carter stories so the movie was my introduction. I went in skeptical from the lame advertising campaign mounted by Disney and the unfavorable reviews it had received from critics across the board. My skepticism was for naught and I was whisked into the world of fantasy and possibility before I could even think about resisting.

The world-building was extremely well done and it was inspiring to see a world that so beautifully mirrored what you could assume the imagination of a man in the early 1900s would produce. The Art Nouveau/ Deco influences of the time period in which Edgar Rice Burroughs wrote the novel were beautifully intertwined with intergalactic imaginings. There were also noticeable Roman and Egyptian culture influences, another nod to the author’s societal environment, which were expertly blended together to create a comfortably familiar, yet refreshingly unique world.

Dejah Thoris from Disney's John CarterDejah Thoris, the Princess of Mars, is truly a Disney princess I can support. Unlike her predecessors in the Disney princess lineup, who tend to lack dimension, she is a fully developed and self-aware woman. Her role in the Helium community as a scientist and visionary/inventor gave her more substance from the get-go than any other princess in Disney’s history. When she ran away to avoid marriage, revealed her fighting ability, and her strong will, I was hooked. Her gorgeous costuming didn’t hurt either.

You are asked to suspend a lot of belief to accept the world of Barsoom, but I think no more so than a lot of other movies that expect you to believe in the actual possibility of the story. When you view the story in the context in which it was written – the early 1900s – you gain a better appreciation for the expansiveness of the author’s imagination. Astral projection, scientific discovery, archaeology, hieroglyphics and symbology. All these things informed the curiosity of the time period and Edgar Rice Burroughs was as much a visionary as Tesla when it comes to imagining the unbelievable and positing possible alternatives to how things are.

I highly recommend this film and will likely be seeking out copies of the novels to read now that I have been introduced to this richly imaginative world. If you like the blending of different aesthetics, the visuals of this movie will delight you in ways you might not expect. And, if you are like me and are a sucker for “so ugly it’s cute” things, the dog-like calot named Woola and his unwavering loyalty to Carter will win your heart and leave you wishing for a space-dog of your very own.

Dog-like Calot Woola from John Carter

The Ugly but Lovable Woola

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