Before I get into my review of the film I'd like to thank the family sitting in front of me that allowed me the added "pleasure" of what it would have been like to experience this movie in their living room.
I've heard whispers, even the odd comment or two passing between friends or couples during many a film, but never have I been subjected to the outright disrespect for everyone else in the theater that this family put forth! The movie theater is NOT the place to practice your MST3k skills and for the love of Lumiere, the people in the movie CAN'T HEAR YOU!! Stop talking to them! Even better, STOP TALKING!!
OK.. I have got that out of my system. Thank you for you patience.
For those who may not know, the story of the 19th century southerner who finds himself on Mars was given to us by Edgar Rice Borroughs. This was Burroughs first "Barsoom" novel and indeed his first novel all together! (Parts of the story appeared in several publications as early at 1912 but wasn't officially published in it's "final" form until 1917)
I'm in the midst of reading the novel now. While I won't say the film is entirely
faithful to the original story, I must admit to being surprised at how well they brought much of the world that Borroughs created to life. The descriptions within the book are pretty detailed and the movie makers didn't stray too far from them when creating the world and the beings who populate it.
On that note, let me say this is one pretty picture. Mars, and it's inhabitants, have never looked more beautiful than in this movie. It wouldn't surprise me at all if this doesn't fire the imaginations of some young writers-to-be and bring us a new generation of Mars based adventures.
But all the pretty CGI in the world, or other worlds as the case my be, wont carry a film for long. The stars of the film, the ones not "masked" behind computer generated Tharks anyway, manage to hold their own. Taylor Kitsch, who will be recognizable for fans of Friday Night Lights plays the title role. He does,..enough. That sounds harsher than it is meant. It would be easy to take this character too far, to either make him too campy or so much the opposite that it would be hard for the audience to connect with him in any way. Whether by acting skills or good direction, Kitsch walks to beam and stays to what I consider true for the role he was given.
Lynn Collins, despite a career that goes back to '99 is pretty much an unknown for me and again, does well as Dejah Thoris, the princess of the city-state of Helium.
Unfortunately this is a Disney movie and from what I can gather so far in my reading of the novel, they did make her a little more of a "Disney Princess", in that if she were animated she would have been Belle (with a sword), or Pocahontas (with a sword) or Ariel (with a sword). Strong, smart, brave and doesn't think she needs a man to come save her, but as it turns out, she does.
That is the films biggest, and I actually hate to call it this, weakness. It's a Disney Picture and the story plays out much the way any other movie from the studio does and the characters are all in place; including a lovable Martian "dog". (Though in fairness, Woola WAS in the original novel and just as lovable.)
So you may ask, "In the end, did I enjoy the film?". The answer is a resounding "Yes!" I did like it. Yes, it had all the shadings of a dozen other films from the same studio and all it's competitors, but it didn't matter. It was fun, it was exciting and it was an adventure ON MARS!!