DVD Review: "John Carter"

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“Better Than You’ll Expect”

Let me say this loud and clear. I enjoyed “John Carter,” the new Disney movie when it played on the big screen and now that it is out on Blu Ray. After all the negatives pouring out around it I expected to be bored to tears or only mildly entertained. Instead I found myself enjoying the adventure, the romance and the comedy of it, and I stayed entertained until the end which was some two hours and twenty minutes later. A blessing of Blu Ray is you can pause it and take food and bathroom breaks.

What did I like about the movie? I liked the plot which is based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novel A PRINCESS OF MARS. In the story John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) is a Confederate veteran of the Civil War. He has moved on after the War and is searching for a fabled cave of gold. When he finds it he also finds a way of transportation to Mars.

When he arrives on Mars he doesn’t know where he is. It takes a while before he understand this vast planet is Mars, a place where he can breathe the air and can take huge bounding leaps due to the lack of gravity. In short order he meets up with a group of beings known as the Tharks. They are very thin and have four arms. In truth they look like “Star Wars” Jar Jar Binks’ cousins.

Later he meets a beautiful woman named Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins), who is a princess of Mars. He decides to help her in her battle with another tribe on the planet. The evil ones are led by Sab Than (Dominic West). He is determined to marry Dejah Thoris and wipe out her people. This conflict is the crux of the story.

What else did I like about the movie? I liked the actors. Kitsch and Collins make a hugely romantic couple who capture the hearts of the viewers. Kitsch is rugged and handsome, while Collins is beautiful and adventuresome. She can handle herself in any battle and fights side by side with Kitsch.

Samantha Morton, Thomas Haden Church and Willem Dafoe provide voices for three of the Tharks and they are perfect for the characters. Ciaran Hines is impressive as Dejah Thoris’ father, while Cooper snarls as their enemy Sab Than.

“John Carter” is a planet crossing adventure for the family. It has enough excitement, enough romance, enough action and enough humor to keep all viewers entertained. If you like big action movies full of great special effects and charismatic characters then this is the movie for you. At least it was the movie for me.

Another movie I found entertaining is “Coriolanus,” the film version of Shakespeare’s play of the same name. This film marks Ralph Fiennes debut as a director and he also plays the title role. It is a very dramatic film and its modernization holds up.

Fiennes is outstanding in the title role but he is matched scene for scene by Gerard Butler who plays his sworn enemy Tullus Affidius. These two men are so good they become an acting class. But then you also have the performances by Vanessa Redgrave and Jessica Chastain who elevate the material. It doesn’t get much better than this.

Many people wanted to see the film when it was released to theaters and missed it. Now it is out on Blu-Ray and available across the board. Take advantage of that availability and watch it.

Another film out on Blu-Ray is “Valley of the Sun,” a strange comedy about a porn star who goes to live with his parents in an Arizona retirement community. Johnny Whitworth plays Andy Taggart aka Vic Velour. He has had a fairly successful career as a porn star, but the everyday pressures of his life drive him to have a breakdown.

His parents (Barry Corbin and Beth Grant) come to his rescue and take him home to their retirement community in Arizona. Andy thinks all his secrets are safe here but he is wrong, so wrong.

The draw to this film is the performances by Corbin and Grant as the good intentioned parents. These are two seasoned actors who can get the most out of any material – and they do. Their talent elevates that of Whitworth.


Photo courtesy of: Walt Disney Pictures

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