Let's begin with a man and his dog. First, the dog. Woola is an unsightly creature but oddly endearing. He's the size of a pony but he looks more like a lizard or a toad albeit one with six visible legs and hundreds of sharp teeth. He reads all dog though -- a mutant pug. His assignment and then devotion is to guard the human prisoner John Carter (Taylor Kitsch).
John Carter of Virginia has been magically transported to Barsoom (aka Mars) and the green martians who discover him don't know what to make of him though they love his mad jumping skill. Mars' gravity makes John Carter the Earthling a superman, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound. When John Carter tries to escape his prison early in the film, he finds it impossible to elude Woola whose multiple legs carry him across the Martian desert in super sonic zig-zag fashion, clouds of dust trailing behind him like a Road Runner cartoon. The adorable mutant pug always appears wherever bouncy John Carter is about to land. Neither man nor beast are moving in a circular fashion but they're not getting anywhere. Eventually they'll be right back where they started.
Points of origin are important. Home, and our journeys to and from it, are at the heart of John Carter's multi-limbed adventure. The four armed green martians who discover John Carter led by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) are nomadic and their cities are dying. They do their best to avoid contact with the civil war raging around them on Mars. The moving city of Zodonga is home to the evil Sab Than (Dominic West) who aims to rule the entire red planet. Meanwhile the Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) of the beautiful citystate of Helium discovers that her father has arranged for her to marry Sab Than to end the war.
Into this triply divided dying planet lands one John Carter who has been transported from his home to this new one by a magical amulet. We're constantly reminded that John Carter is of Virginia -- the martians even mistake it for his name -- and he wants to go back there. But when he meets the princess he starts feeling a new kind of gravitational pull.
Would it help you to stay focused to know that in Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Mars" novels interplanetary travel robs John Carter of all of his clothing?
MORE AFTER THE JUMP...