David Bowie always talked about the Spiders from Mars. John Carter may have to fight them.

John Carter, on the surface, looks like Avatar set in Prince of Persia. Having just seen a screening, it goes in a very different direction.

Remember that movie a few years ago, where one man who didn’t fit in on his world went to another civilization, where they look like they’re from ancient history but have magic super-science that looks like religion? And then he has to find his confidence, win their respect and lead them into battle to save them from annihilation against a warring superpower? Don’t forget the skimpy hot but smart, sharp-witted and silk-voiced princess and her rich but emotionally-unavailable evil suitor.

It sounds like a lot of movies. Star Wars 4-through-6. Stargate. Atlantis. Yet somehow, this Disney-written sci-fi does all of that and makes this kingdom on Mars feel heavily down to Earth.

Its secret is in its moral ambiguity. John Carter, retired Confederate general and lone widower, is a man with no friend and no cause. After so much war and death he bitterly wants to be left alone. When an alien in a cave sends him to the barren planet of Barsoom “Mars,” he’s caught by a rugged, Spartan tribe: the Thark. Each must fight and prove themselves to survive, and so must Carter.

The rest of the planet, he finds, is hardly more hospitable. When word gets out that this Earth-man can jump– as in “leap tall buildings in a single bound”– in Barsoom’s low gravity, warlords and victims all want him as a weapon. Even the princess, who wants him to save her kingdom, doesn’t garner his sympathy.

But, as the trailers all tell, he fights. His moral compass twitches until it slowly comes to life, and Carter re-learns there is still honor in fighting to save something worth keeping. Bloodshed is grim and without glory, but it is right.

There’s a reason the story is still familiar. John Carter was written 95 years ago. Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Princess of Mars” novel series invented the genre. Every copied story arc since then has come from his fans.

If John Carter has another weakness, though, it’s the villains’ choices of words. Wall-E director Andrew Stanton suffers from that old vice of children’s movie directors: writing fantasy that sounds like, well, fantasy. Its villains speak in little riddles through smooth expressions and sound flowery as can be. The most evil of characters are almost, just almost, cliche to the bone. The roughness of the world is antagonist enough without them.

There’s a reason these movies sell out. They offer fantasy on a mass scale. In 3D or not, John Carter journeys across an entire world, and Disney shows it all. Culture, history, tradition and even biology go deep. Those images will stay with you for days. It may have been 24 hours since I’ve seen it, but they may last for years.

So, go see John Carter. Whether for its grit, for its beauty or for its legacy, go see John Carter.

Final Count: 4 1/2 Stars.


There is a jpeg beyond that which is known to man, a jpeg not only of sight and sound but of mind. Next stop, the Twiligh–
Those words do not ring as pure as they once did, before the word came to mean docile adventurous gothic vampires lurking in Hot Topic by day and prowling the night to seek out unremarkable girls a hundred years under their age to go on strictly-G-rated relationship adventures with. Nonetheless, the pixels do not lie.

Aliens Send us a Terrorist Fist-Jab

Aliens Send us a Terrorist Fist-Jab

Not a corny photoshopped April 1st post, no. It may be the summit of our worst fears.
Someone told the extraterrestrials about the remake of “The Day The Earth Stood Still” going to DVD April 7th. Having foreseen this day thousands of years before the Sumerians had so much as invented glue (see my school’s Humanities department for details), they used their glitter, cotton candy and bundle of hopelessly-tangled Christmas lights to warn of of the impending DVD release.

NASA’s theorists, having taken the deep-space photo themselves, say that it could be only red tide, a phenomenon which NASA administrator Michael Griffith first documented in the summer of 1998 at his beach home in Baja California. Griffith denies rumors that it coincides with the March 27th release of “Monsters vs. Aliens,” now playing in a theater near you.

Long-time rivalries among Marvel and DC loyalists, the two leading comic book factions, have led to widespread debate and speculation over the significance of the “hand” in the sky. Both herald it as a sign predicted long ag in their sacred texts. Marvel loyalists claiming it as a sign of the coming Galactus, Devourer of Worlds, who appeared briefly in “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer” six months and two days before the April 4th cosmic event. (The bright spot in the center of the photograph is heralded as the Silver Surfer himself.) DC disciples insist on the alternate theory that it is on par with the release of “Watchmen” 29 days previous, citing Dr. Manhattan (more commonly referred to as The Uh, Naked Blue Guy) as the shaper of the nebula.

Yahoo! News, to much disbelief, misidentified the shape as a pulsar, a dying star condense to a sphere 12 miles wide, which reached a mad spinning speed of seven rotations a second and spewed its electrons into space, simultaneously diffusing their energy into high-energy X-rays due to the star’s gravitational pull 15 million times the strength of the Earth’s.  It revoked the article immediately and apologized for the error.

As of press time, NASA has narrowed down the symbol’s possible sources to aliens, God or the half-finished Powerade the interns left on the lens again.