Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

As we settle down for family movie night to watch ‘Princess of Mars’, you see I actually force my family to watch a lot of these movies with me… please don’t inform protective services… My son asks me, with venom in his voice, "Who are The Asylum copying this time father?" My child, as it turns out, has nothing but derision for The Asylum and their mock-busting corporate model with his vendetta beginning with me forcing him to watch ‘Transmorphers’ on family movie night few years back. He really, really hated that movie. He hated it even more than I did and I disliked that movie so much I was tempted to set my TV on fire. I inform him that this was a totally original movie, neglecting to inform him that the box cover claims that this is the very same story that inspired James Cameron’s 300 million dollar epic ‘Avatar’, a movie my young son believes in his heart of hearts is the best movie ever made. This is a good thing considering I had to take out a personal loan to get the entire family into the theater to watch that movie. If they boy had a even hint they were mocking ‘Avatar’ I’m afraid Latt and Rimawi would have one seriously angry thirteen year old on their ass and they don’t want that.

In this iteration of the Burroughs classic, Antonio Sabato Jr. is gulf war vet John Carter who gets himself all shot up. The good thing is that there is this new technology which allows doctors to download his essence to a flash drive and recombine him on the planet Mars. Or something. The way that this is explained to us it’s clearly not all that important how this fancy technology works.

Next thing you know Carter wakes up buck ass naked on Mars with super strength and hulk-like jumping ability and he has also become the prisoner of some funky looking alien race who uses back sweat for liquid refreshment. Don’t ask. These aliens are in a mortal battle with some human looking characters led by their princess Dejah Thoris (Traci Lords). I’m not quite sure what they are warring about but I think it has something to do with the planet’s atmosphere. The humans have rigged Mars atmosphere to make the air breathable and these humans have told these aliens that their rigged machine is the only reason any of them are alive but the aliens don’t believe them. Doesn’t seem like much to fight over but there you go.

Eventually John Carter proves himself worthy in battle to these aliens and becomes one of them, more or less, and the aliens also manage to capture the princess who Carter has become enamored with. On the periphery there is this shady hooded character doing bad things with bad intentions - like destroying the planet - with his identity being shielded from us, but all will be revealed in time. Will John Carter, with the help of his scantily clad princess, be able to save Mars before all is lost? Sure he will.

I have about two dozen or so of the movies from The Asylum under my belt with my only hope for this company of cinematic dreams being that they eventually start creating movies that are simply crappy on a normal level of crappiness as opposed to movies that exist on a beyond crappy level, and might I say that they are almost there. There are some decent things in this movie directed by Mark Atkins who also directed a couple of Asylum movies I had seen prior in ‘Dragonquest’ and ‘Merlin and the War of the Dragons’. For one it appears as if the home office loosened the purse strings a little bit on this one as it had all kinds of fancy little CGI enhanced special effects from giant three toed sloth looking thingies, hordes of giant spiders and house flies and the costumes for the alien race were pretty decent looking. Antonio Sabato Jr. made for a strapping John Carter and actor Matt Lasky was also pretty good as Carter’s benevolent alien captor Tars Tarkas. Atkins is also a seasoned cinematographer so his movie did look good and combined with the CGI effects, as pedestrians as these CGI effects may have been, it is these elements which help ‘Princess of Mars rise above the standard fare that we are used to seeing from The Asylum.

But it is still a crappy movie. The story surrounding this movie is confusing nonsense, which it probably shouldn’t be considering it is based on something that’s been written already. The movie is also erratically paced featuring fits of mad paced CGI action followed by lulls of sorrow dullness of absolutely nothing of any significance going on before us. While I wouldn’t call Traci Lords a bad actress her entire interpretation of the character of Dejah Thoris seemed to be narrow eyebrows and pursed lips indicating concern. From start of finish. By the time she declared undying love to John Carter, with narrow eyebrows and pursed lips, your guess is as good as mine as to where this alleged love found time to develop. And somebody might’ve wanted to spring for Antonio Sabato Jr. and his arch enemy played by actor Chacko Vadeketh to attend some rudimentary fencing lessons. While it’s not particularly necessary for those cats to actually know how to sword fight it is fairly critical that we believe that they handle a scabbard and are actually trying to do each other some harm as opposed to what we got which was a pair of actors trying their darndest not to hurt each other.

So close my friends… ‘Princess of Mars’ is so close to being just a normal crappy movie that I can almost taste it. With the new decade upon us I have no fear in guaranteeing that by the time this new decade comes to an end our friends at The Asylum will have this movie making thing completely figured out.

Real Time Web Analytics