Disney's supposed flop makes this geek happy as can be...
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There's no doubt there are critics out there who've continued to argue John Carter was a bust for Disney. These haters will argue the film lost money and didn't live up to the expectation set by both the studio and the fans. Of course, there are also those who, like me, are absolutely passionate about John Carter, who'll argue tooth and nail that the film is one of the finest adventure films released in the last decade.
The John Carter home video - released last week - earned the top spot on both Nielsen VideoScan First Alert sales chart and Nielsenís dedicated Blu-ray Disc sales chart, proving the film has a strong following as well as continues to turn heads. John Carter is everything great cinema should be: engaging in its story and action, dramatic in its characterization, suspenseful at times and romantic at others, and featuring a well-timed sense of humor. For those who've yet to see John Carter, allow me to explain why this movie's home video deserves a permanent place in your home video library.
Movies like John Carter are experienced, not watched. Based on Edgar Rice Burroughs' classic novel "A Princess of Mars" and only the first of a multi-part sci-fi pulp fiction series, John Carter was adapted for the big screen by Andrew Stanton, Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon with Stanton in the director's chair. The story, set in 1868, follows the adventures of Civil War veteran John Carter (played well by Taylor Kitsch) as he's transported to Mars and dropped neck deep into an alien war on an alien planet filled with alien creatures, alien weapons, and a beautiful alien princess who needs Carter's help. Carter, a native of Earth, finds himself with incredible strength and power (due to the difference in Earth and Mar's gravity) and thus Carter is thrust into the war on Mars between two factions which fight to claim the planet for their own.
With an enthralling story that reaches outside of the sci-fi genre and gorgeous special effects that near seemlessly blend with the live-action cast of virtually unknown actors, John Carter does an impressive job of providing an all-encompassing and entertaining tale that's accessible to those who have both no knowledge of sci-fi as well as an expansive understanding of the genre. Many die-hard fans have been waiting decades for this tale to take to the big screen and it's a blessing that it's become a reality.
This 4-disc set includes what has to be one of the most impressive video and audios ever released. The 3-D is both impressive as well as encompassing, providing plenty of depth which should impress fans of 3-D at home. For those without 3-D at home, it's great to know the regular blu-ray is just as impressive, with plenty of contrast, gorgeous colors with plenty of saturation, and CGI that's impressive and near seamless. Likewise, the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 surround track is beyond impressive and those with a surround sound system at home will be astonished at what dynamic sound mixing can come out of their system. Gunfire blasts, explosions blare, alien beasts roar, and all the while dialogue is clear, present, and easily recognizable. It's everything one could hope for and more.
As for special features, the set includes a solid selection. An audio commentary with director Andrew Stanton and producers Jim Morris and Lindsey Collins provides insight into the film's production and creation, including development of the script and idea, casting the characters, special effects and more. Disney's Second Screen Interactive Experience delivers additional info for those with an iPad, laptop, or additional device for even more bonus material. 19 minutes of deleted scenes with commentary from director Stanton provides a look at a number of interesting scenes, some incomplete, featuring storyboards and unfinished special effects. A short 10-minute "100 Years in the Making" showcases the John Carter creator, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and his life and creations as well as the quest to bring his stories to life on the big screen. The 35-minute "360 Degrees of John Carter" shows a day on the set with the director as well as visits to the costume and makeup departments. Lastly, 2 minutes of "Barsoom Bloopers" provide some laughs (depending on your sense of humor) for those looking for a little bit more.
Emotionally charged, fun, and all around entertaining, John Carter is a rare gem in today's Hollywood. Family-friendly with no human bloodshed and no harsh language and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action. John Carter is available now wherever fine home video is sold. Be sure to pick up your copy now!
- Jess C. Horsley