Taylor Kitsch

Taylor Kitsch

By DOUGLAS TSENG

Starring: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Willem Dafoe, Mark Strong

Directed by: Andrew Stanton

Why watch: Taylor Kitsch (shirtless) vs aliens on Mars!

The low-down: An American Civil War soldier (Kitsch) is teleported to Mars where he leads the natives in a uprising against an evil ruler (Mark Strong). Think Avatar, but in the desert. Based on the novel, A Princess of Mars, by Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan.

The buzz: First, Brad Bird did it with Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol. Now, another Pixar veteran, Andrew Stanton (Finding Nemo, Wall•E), has a go at live-action filmmaking. And looking at the early footage, it’s spectacular. Not surprising since Stanton studied closely Apocalypto and Lawrence of Arabia, epics “that as a viewer [he] could accept as having a level of historical research”. In fact, he approaches John Carter not as a sci-fi fantasy, but “a period film of a period we don’t know anything about.” But there’s more to it than just being a 3D spectacle; it’s an emotional ride as well, about a broken character confronting his past. “The thing about Taylor is that he does damaged goods really well,” says Stanton about the Friday Night Lights star. Sure or not? Then again, coming from the guy who made us cry over a lovelorn robot, you better believe it.

Opens: Mar 8