The good news is that Andrew Stanton, one of the cornerstones of Pixar and the director of both "Finding Nemo" and "WALL-E," has made a nimble jump to live-action, and much of his movie is imbued with a wild, thrilling pulp energy and a genuine sense of wonder. It is a charming science-fiction adventure that makes no apologies for what it is. This is the sort of film where there is talk of Jeddaks and Tharks and Barsoom and you're supposed to just pick it up and understand, and where we accept that Mars doesn't look a thing like modern science tells us it does because that's the conceit. It will be interesting to see who gets hung up on the difference between reality and this film's conception of Mars, because there's nothing about this that plays as "real," but there is such a strong sense of voice that I think Stanton sells the reality beautifully.I think the review does an excellent job of giving the film the proper context--that of an old-fashioned Saturday matinee-style adventure. The writer had some minor quibbles (mainly with buying Taylor Kitsch as a Civil War vet), but was largely positive and ends on a high note:
"John Carter" may be hobbled by one of the worst marketing campaigns in recent memory, but in that way, it is the opposite of many of Disney's latest event films. I thought they did a great job selling both "TRON: Legacy" and "Alice In Wonderland," but I hated the movies themselves. This time, I think they've fumbled the sales pitch completely, but if you're willing to look past that and go the theater, "John Carter" is transporting in exactly the way I want my escapism to be. Richly imagined, robustly performed, and directed with the evident enthusiasm of someone who's been dreaming about Barsoom his whole life, "John Carter" is a gem.As of this writing, the film has a 74% freshness on Rotten Tomatoes, which is downright terrific for an action movie.
Hat tip to io9 which has links to more positive reviews.