This is the first movie this year that owned a big bright spot on my movies radar. The trailers looked fine and made me interested. It ‘s also always interesting to see what studios and directors can make of a very very old Scifi story. Especially when it comes to design things.
The original story ‘The Princess of Mars’ came out 1917 and was written by Edgar Rice Burroughs. In the following 30 years more books and shortstories spawned. All of them exploring the fantastic world created in the first book. Due to the indeed very old story I found it very appealing to see what Hollywood can make of that material. Also the fact that Andrew Stanton, (creator of Pixar’s Wall-E and Finding Nemo) former animation movie director, is now attacking a live action movie.
The story is actually told rather quickly. A former soldier of the american civilwar gets captured by some of his old army colleagues. They want him to join back into the army. They got their reasons and he surely got his reasons to avoid it. He waits for the right moment to escape. When he finally breaks free he is forced to find a hideout. The only one he finds is a mysterious cave. There he encounters something that transports him to Mars. At first he’s not sure what the hell happened and it takes him a while to understand. On Mars he’s the outsider. He finds a world that is in a war he actually doesn’t want to be a part of. Much like the world he just left. From there on he’s trying to understand this new world and trying to find his way back home. But home is relative… isn’t it?
The feel and the tone of the movie is pretty much an ‘adventure’ one. They market this movie like “a mix between starwars and avatar”. Which is completely useless. There is maybe 10% Starwars and 5% Avatar in it. It is a movie on its own. The design and look of the movie stands on its own feet. And that’s what I liked a lot from early on. Of course you have seen everything anywhere, sometime or somewhere but the movie manages it to keep it fresh. So visually you really get to see something stimulating.
The presentation of the storyline is a little rollercoaster. You have great and impressive battle scenes. A lot of action and speed. Then comes the romantic stuff. And I must admit that there is maybe a little too much of that. But on the other hand it’s exactly this what gives the movie a very certain tone that reminds me of older movies from the 60s or 50s. I don’t know if that was planned by the makers but for me it felt that way. The story of the movie technically plays 1866 and with that comes certain behaviour by certain characters. Last but not least comes the humour. There you can kind of see where the director originally came from. To me it felt like a very Pixar’ish humour.
When it comes to the acting and its quality then there is not much to say. It’s certainly not overwhelming but it was ok. I’m not sure if I will become a fan of Taylor Kitsch (even if his work in this movie was totally fine). Lynn Collins as princess Dejah Thoris was a perfect cast though. She really felt and looked like a true princess. Overall the casting was fine and felt organic enough to leave an overall good impression.
The design and VFX work belongs to the best that’s out there nowadays. The integration of all the CG into the live action footage looked pretty much flawless and convincing. It was a lot of fun watching the action happening. Explosions, huge cities, exotic aircrafts and all sorts of creatures. Creatures that, for once, really felt like there was a thought process behind them. Overall good stuff.
It may be the age of the original story that some parts in the movie feel a little hokey but I would say that this is just a certain charme that most movies are not able to capture anymore. The director kept its movie relatively close to the original material. The charme of an old fashioned Scifi movie. Nowadays everyone is trying to reinvent everything anew. This isn’t necessary! You can create something entertaining too by just using methods that are already there.
If you’re planning to see it on the big screen then try to catch a 2d showing. The 3d isn’t horribly bad but it wasn’t good enough to let me say “yes!”. Otherwise wait for the bluray. I’m sure it’ll look great in HD.
I enjoyed this film.