When I saw the first trailers for "John Carter" flickering over my TV screen a few months ago, I honestly had no intentions of seeing this film. The trailer was weak and unappealing and moreover, the title itself, "John Carter" was so lame and unimaginative that it was a complete turn off. The title created no connection to anything, let away the science fiction fantasy setting of the film, and apart from those few people who actually read - and remembered - the book upon which the film is based, no one really know what the heck this film was supposed to be. Nonetheless, when the film arrive here on Blu-Ray Disc, I felt intrigued enough to pop it in and check it out - and I am glad, I did.
Based on the book "A Princess of Mars" by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the film tells the story of Captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a veteran of the American Civil War, as he is mysteriously transported to the planet Barsoom, which happens to be Mars in our human world. There he finds himself in the middle of a war as a power hungry overlord, supported and fueled by even more powerful, ethereal beings, is determined to conquer all of Mars and destroy anyone in his path. Too bad for him, he will find that Carter is in his path...
To say that I was surprised by "John Carter" would be a mild understatement. The film's spectacular special effects stood out form the first second, as the movie starts with a battle scene on Mars featuring not only alien creatures but also breathtakingly beautiful flying vessels. It shouldn't have surprised me, really, as director Andrew Stanton is a Pixar man, and if there is one thing he knows, it's computer generated imagery.
It is quickly becoming evident, however, that the movie excels on other levels as well. It is always refreshing to see a fantasy and science fiction movie that doesn't insult the viewers intelligence with completely incoherent logic or a MacGuffin in every corner. "John Carter" tells a story that comes together nicely, with lively dynamics between characters and a plot line that is engaging and captivating. In the end, I found myself wholesomely entertained by the movie and ended up being exceedingly surprised by how well it all came together and played out. It is really too bad that Disney's inept marketing of the movie completely broadsided the film's box office potential and let this wonderful action adventure on another planet remain mostly unseen by large audiences. In fact, Disney is still clueless about the marketing of the film, you can tell. On the Blu-Ray copy there is a sticker which says "A Warrior on Earth becomes a hero on Mars," clearly stuck on as an afterthought once more, instead of incorporating the message properly in the cover design.
The film is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer on the Blu-Ray release, and it is every bit as good as high def transfers come. Incredible rich in color, the transfer also revels in detail and squeezes even the smallest bit of picture information out of the transfer. The colors truly transport you to another world, and with its deep black levels, you get to witness an image that has plenty of visual depth to play with. Gorgeous is the word that comes to mind.
The disc contains a DTS 7.1 HD Master Audio track to accompany the movie and it is rocking. I mean, this track has some serious power to work out your home theater system. Aggressive, explosive and constantly active in all the surround channels, this audio track will envelop you entirely for the duration of the movie.
Among the bonus features on the disc you will find a commentary track by the filmmakers, along with a selection of deleted scenes, also with optional commentary.
Look out also for a couple of featurettes covering the making of the movie, as well as the origins of the character and its way to the silver screens, and don't forget to check out the bloopers found on the disc also.
One of the highlights among the bonus materials is Disney's Second Screen feature. simply download the Second Screen app to your iPad and explore a whole lot of background information about the movie on the device while you are watching the movie. It is a fun little gimmick that nicely complements the movie, especially on repeat viewings.
Despite its insipid title, "John Carter" turned out to be a glorious movie that gets everything right as it fires on all cylinders. Don't let the title or the poor trailer you might have seen fool you. This is a film you should definitely check out!