Disney’s new film John Carter (starring Taylor Kitsch) is far from the usual everyday Science Fiction film. Sure, it has many elements of science fiction films that we’ve seen before however, John Carter has one thing nearly every science fiction film ever made doesn’t. The book on which the film is based–A Princess of Mars–was originally published in 1912 under the title:Under The Moons of Mars and later novelized and given the current title in 1917. As a matter of fact, Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series has been credited as the inspiration for such works as The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury. It could be said that Burrough’s Barsoom series became the model of modern science fiction, or science fantasy. At its very core, John Carter could be–in essence–the first science fiction tale. However, the story is more than simply a man gets transported to another planet and sees aliens.
John Carter is a tale of a late 18th century man lost among the human race with no purpose for life other than becoming filthy rich. He intends to do so by finding a cave a gold. In almost an ironic sense, it is that cave of gold that changes his life completely. Just not in the way John Carter had envisioned. Instead he is transported to a world with two moons. A dying world, whose inhabitants are in turmoil; desperately in need of a savior–Mars. John Carter is that savior. He discovers this as he seeks a way to return to Earth only to find that he must fight for the freedom of Mars if he is ever to get back to Earth.By losing himself in the service of those who call Mars home John Carter finds himself.
John Carter shows us the Mars we all dream of. Complete with green men and ancient civilizations. One can only wonder while watching this film, if the story of John Carter inspired the likes of such films as Dune, Flash Gordon, or even Star Wars. It is well worth watching on an enormous screen as the cinematography provides some gorgeous views. With John Carter, Disney gives us a special tale different from the usual science fiction audiences have become accustomed to. In many ways the film reminds one of those old Sinbad movies from the Golden Era of film, only with 21st century computer graphics. Delve into a story with century old sensibilities that somehow speaks to our modern day ones. Allow yourself to be transported to another world.
Tangled features the vocal talents of Zachary Levi (Chuck) and Mandy Moore. The film marks Disney’s fiftieth animated feature and follows the studio’s tradition of giving fairy tales the Disney treatment. This time it is the story of Rapunzel being retold.
Those who are used to the usual Disney style of animation are in for a treat, because the film is not only presented in computer animated form, but in 3D as well! The computer animation breathes new life into the familiar Disney animation, bringing the characters to life in a way that makes them more real. Facial expressions are portrayed so well that it is easy to forget that these characters are not real actors. The 3D effect only enhances the experience.
Although Tangled may seem like the typical fairy tale-A beautiful Princess held captive by the selfish and wicked old witch, only to be saved by a brave and stoic Prince-it is nothing of the sort. Yes, there are the arch types but, a few departures from the usual Disney formula, provides a unique and refreshing perspective on the tale written by the Grimm brothers.
Instead of a witch, Mother Gothel is an old woman who finds an item filled with magic powerful enough to keep her young. She hordes the healing properties for herself as centuries pass, until fate intervenes and places the item into the King’s hands who uses it to heal the ailing and pregnant Queen. The healing potion causes Rapunzel to be born with the magic sealed in her hair. The selfishness and vanity within Mother Gothel causes her to abduct Rapunzel and raise her as her own daughter. All the while using the magical properties of the girls hair for her own purposes.
Flynn Rider is a second character straying from familiarity, as his occupation is that of a thief. Dashing and smart he may be, though a Prince he most certainly is not. His ambitions bring him to steal a royal crown from the castle and he stumbles upon Rapunzel while attempting to hide from the castle guard in what he thinks is an abandoned tower.
Rapunzel is the only central character unchanged from the original context of the story. With the exception of her pet chameleon Leon,who provides a number of small, but memorable moments in the film.
I always looked forward to seeing Disney animated movies while growing up. Most especially those Disney films that retold a beloved fairy tale. Some of my favorites have been released within the last thirty-five years and Tangled is now part of that list. With this new addition, Disney gives us a story of wonder, sorrow, love, and hope told through music and laughter. In a word…magic-Walt Disney’s legacy.