• A Review Page For Those Movies You Watch At Home!

    Couch Potato Movie Reviews is, obviously, a blog that exclusively reviews movies. What makes this blog different is the fact that all of the films we are reviewing are all movies that are available on home movie rental companies such as Redbox, Netflix, Blockbuster, and your quickly disappearing neighborhood rental store. This blog is designed to take a more detailed look at those movies that either were sent straight to DVD, received a very limited release in the theaters, or were distributed through the art house or film festival circuit. We will also review those big Hollywood films, but only after they are available for home viewing.

    All the reviews are written by fans of the great art of film making rather than some newspaper reviewer or stuffy film student. We don’t know everything about film but we do know what we like, and we are more than happy to share our opinions with you. What you do with those opinions are totally up to you, although comments are welcome and encouraged.

    Each film review has a one to five star rating at the end of the critique. Here is what those star ratings mean for you couch potatoes:

    * * * * * : Five stars: go and buy this one, don’t just rent it!

    * * * * : Four stars: put this at the top of your rental list.

    * * * : Three stars: average, not bad just not great either.

    * * : Two stars: only rent if you have to see everything.

    * : One star: don’t waste your time with this.

Princess Of Mars

TITLE: Princess Of Mars

YEAR: 2009

GENRE: Science Fiction

It is difficult enough to take existing literary material to make a film that will appeal to the fans of the writing. It is especially tough to make a science fiction film out of material that is decidedly dated, but it has been done before in Fahrenheit 451 and I, Robot. That is one of the problems that Princess Of Mars has to grapple: to take a 100-year-old Edgar Rice Burroughs book series and to make a film that would appeal to today’s science fiction crowd. This is a tough assignment, but with a little modernization Princess Of Mars has created a fairly good low budget science fiction adventure although the source material was changed a bit.

John Carter (played by Antonio Sabato Jr.) is a Special Forces soldier that is assigned to assassinate an opium drug kingpin in Afghanistan. When the operation does not go according to plan and Carter is mortally wounded, our Special Ops guy is assigned an unusual mission where his mind is transported to Mars 216, a planet around a local solar system, to search for the possibility of life on the distant world. Carter is immediately dropped into an inter racial war between a form of humans and the Thark, a humanoid breed with boar-like faces and dress similar to the monkeys in Planet Of The Apes. A high ranking Thark named Tars Tarkas (Matt Lasky) is impressed with Carter’s shooting and fighting abilities during an ambush by mutant ants, and the clan of aliens adopt Carter as one of their own. However, the Princess of the humans Dejah Thoris (Traci Lords) is also interested in the new male and falls in love with Carter. The romance will have to wait as a person from Carter’s past also materializes on the planet and desires to hold a giant air pump that sustains life on the planet hostage for supreme rule over the planet.

Based on the nearly 100-year-old book, director/writer Mark Atkins must have believed that his material needed a modern re-imaging and honestly did an acceptable job in changing Carter’s Earth timeline from the Civil War to modern times. The rest of the story is fairly faithful, and the barren world of war, giant bugs, and Dune-style atmosphere and environment is pretty well done especially considering the microscopic budget compared with many of today’s science fiction offerings. The fight scenes are decent enough and are done with gusto and enthusiasm. Lords and Sabato are an interesting couple that do have some chemistry that makes the film more believable, and both look great in their limited and exploitative costuming. There is also some humor tossed into the script that gives the film a more multi-dimensional approach, especially when Carter is trying to obtain some edible and acceptable food from the Thark who do not understand the concept. The CGI effects are a bit hokey, but the low budget appeal of the film adds to the B-rated charm of Princess Of Mars.

James Cameron does not have to worry about any competition here, but Princess Of Mars is an entertaining adventure through the galaxy for those who watch 1950’s and 60’s science fiction and enjoyed movies like the 1980 version of Flash Gordon. This film hearkens back to those days of pop-soaked sticky floors when people went to the downtown palace-style theaters for a cheap thrill and to venture out of their own realities into a much larger universe. I enjoyed my trip to Mars 216, and since the script is ripe for potential sequels it would be nice to see what Atkins may have for us in the future. Disney is making a film called John Carter Of Mars based on the same book, which is supposed to be a more period-correct adaptation. Fans of the original book series are sure to be looking forward to the Disney adaptation, but they should also venture to Princess Of Mars and check out this acceptable revision.

* * *

–Mark

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