John Carter is the most underrated film of the year. The critics did not all agree on the film’s modern viability, but with the excellent performances, stunning effects, great interpretation of the classic story, and the potential for a grand franchise to follow, John Carter has found its way quickly onto my list of the best sci-fi adventure films of all time, right between Blade Runner and Alien.
Unfortunately, the film was hampered by some propaganda about Disney executives who hated the film, and money that had been lost on the production and so forth, which ended up poisoning the audience pool. If you missed it in the theater, however, you have another chance to see it now that it will be out on Blu-ray.
The film only loses a small part of its gloss when taken down from the silver screen to your television, but all of the performances and amazing, artful effects are still there, and of course, the transition does nothing to blunt the great world-building based on Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars novels.
The special features of the Blu-ray are about what one expects: a making-of featurette, a few deleted scenes, and a short bloopers reel sit alongside the Disney "Seconds Screen" feature, which allows audiences to follow along on their mobile devices with maps and images, and detailed descriptions of parts of the story world.
The featurette, John Carter 360, covers a single day of filming showing the long process of trying to capture just a few scenes from the film. A couple of interesting points were the details regarding the Barsoomian tattoos, which are different on each character, and impressively detailed for Deja - more than you would ever actually be able to see in the film. There is also look at a sort of day-in-the-life for film extras, who spent a couple hours of the day getting made-up and costumed, then a half-hour shooting a fight scene or two, but most of the time was spent goofing off, while sitting around in costume, waiting to be called to the set.
A shorter featurette, 100 Years in the Making, discusses the life and career of Burroughs, with some voice-over that seem to be from the classic sci-fi authors own journal or letters, lots of photographs of him, and bits of interviews in which the crew of the film discuss the inspiration they got from reading the books as a kid.
The deleted scenes are perhaps the most interesting feature, as there are some interesting expositions, which were removed from the film, and which do a great job of explaining things in a way that was left out of the final film. For example, there is a long sequence - five minutes or so - which seems to have been the original version of the introduction to the princess and her father. Here, she goes into much greater detail about the Barsoomian civil war, what caused it, and how the fighting is going. It’s all stuff I already knew having read the books as a kid, but the movie might not have lost so many of its audience to confusion, if these details had been present somehow in the theatrical version.
John Carter makes a great addition to any sci-fi/fantasy Blu-ray collection. It’s currently available over on Amazon. Of course, you could also try to win a copy. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook for your chance at one of three copies we have to give away.