This week's leading literary adaptation is "John Carter," a movie crafted from a sci-fi tale by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the author who also brought us Tarzan.
Chicago-born Burroughs (1875-1950) scraped by in various careers until 1910, when he began writing for pulp magazines. According to a bio in The Free Library: A story called Under the Moons of Mars, which introduced the hero John Carter, was his first sale and was published in 1912. Many more Carter adventures followed including as "The Gods of Mars." Burroughs gained even more lasting fame for his Tarzan tales, many of which were adapted into movies. Here are some excerpts from "John Carter" movie reviews:
Chicago Tribune -- The major problem here is one of rooting interest. I hate to sound like a mogul, or a focus group ho, but at the center of this picture is a flat, inexpressive protagonist played by a flat, inexpressive actor. He's an invulnerable slab, this guy, and the action sequences lack satisfying shape. Too much of the dialogue relies on tony explication of past events, explaining and re-explaining what happened when to whom, and why. We don't really experience the story through Carter's astonished eyes, and the story is heavy and sour.
Los Angeles Times -- All of the intrigues play out against an exceptionally fine background, from the cave dwellings of the Tharks, whose misunderstanding of John's name provides the film its best running gag, to the towering spires of Helium. Barsoom's barren wasteland is a terrific visual staging ground for the many battles to come and where Stanton's strengths come to the surface. The action itself is intricate but ultimately not that satisfying since, even as guns blaze, there is never a feeling of real jeopardy.
New York Times -- “Mash-up” doesn’t begin to capture this hectic hybrid; it’s more like a paintball fight. Messy and chaotic, in other words, but also colorful and kind of fun. The movie begins in an atmosphere of Victorian spookiness: an old manse with dark paneling, a sealed tomb out back and many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore piled up in the study.