Among the live-action Disney movies of the past decade, the action-fantasy genre seems to be the most popular. Movies such as "Tron: Legacy," "Prince of Persia" and, of course, the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series have all turned out to be the movies people just have to see. They're full of fun, action and adventure -- lovable stories that make most of us leave the theater feeling like we just went on an adventure of our own.

However, a lot of these movies suffer from a few plot holes, average or overused action and adventure elements and, overall, sometimes just not making too much sense. But are these movies still enjoyable? Of course. Disney's latest action-adventure flick, "John Carter," definitely takes its place among the rest of its kind, being a fun adventure with nice action and epic storytelling but still a few flaws.

The film is largely based on the character John Carter from a series of books written by Edgar Rice Burroughs in the early 1900s. "A Princess of Mars" was the first of the series, and it is the basis for the film. The story is about a Civil War veteran accidentally transported to Mars and soon becomes the Martians' war hero because of his enhanced strength and knowledge of battle.

One thing cleverly done in the movie adaptation is having Burroughs as a supporting character. Being Carter's nephew in his young adult years, the story is told through a journal written by Carter and read by Burroughs. This form of characterization based on the author of an original work has not been notably seen in any popular film adaptation, which makes Burroughs' character unique.

Like other Disney films, "John Carter" definitely shows its strengths in its sci-fi action, plot and visuals, but most of all, the astounding design in the Martians' technology, such as their airships and weapons, as well as the Martian environment and world. It is unlike the typical designs seen in sci-fi movies, and is only comparable to the concept design for "Final Fantasy" video games. In fact, at times, it feels like watching a live-action "Final Fantasy" movie.

Also, the creation of the Martian people and culture is very well done. It is somewhat similar to our traditions and ideas, yet completely warped and new and it all still makes sense. Along with that, the writing is nicely done. It is, for the most part, well executed and original enough to keep audiences interested and unable to guess what's going to happen next. That's to be expected from the film's writer and director, Jason Stanton.

Most of the movie's problems came from its illogical and often unexplained concepts. The biggest and most bothersome is how there are humans on Mars. It is stated several times that Carter and the Martian people are the same species, and then never explains how or why.

A lot of other things go unexplained or poorly explained as well, like how Carter is able to understand the Martians' language or why Dejah Thoris, the human princess of Mars, doesn't understand a human handshake as a sign of trust but understands a kiss as a sign of love and other such things.

What makes Carter superior to the Martians is his strength. Because Mars is smaller than Earth, Mars has less gravity, therefore Carter's muscles are even stronger on Mars than Earth and he has the ability to jump far. This goes a little over the top in the movie, though, because over time, he is able to jump mammoth distances that just don't seem possible, even with the low gravity. Also, if gravity is such an important factor to the story, why isn't the rest of Mars' features? Why is Carter able to breathe on Mars when its atmosphere is very thin and has no oxygen? And why isn't Carter affected by the harsh temperatures? Again, these are only noticeable by astronomy geeks like me and can be overlooked considering it's just a sci-fi story.

"John Carter" is in no way a perfect movie, but its flaws don't affect the overall experience of the movie. "John Carter" is actually a great film to see while it's still in theaters and will give you the feeling that a great sci-fi movie should.

David Caya is a senior at Akron High School.


"John Carter"

Rated PG-13

3 stars (out of 4)