DVD Straightjacket - Princess Of Mars

A US soldier finds himself inexplicably transported to Mars in the midst of a war between two alien races.

Special Features:
Making of Featurette

The Asylum has done it again. Instead of waiting for the actual film they are going to be making a mockbuster of to come out, they have decided to cash in on the buzz surrounding it and beat them to the punch…to an extent. Completely scooping Pixar and Disney (yeah, right), The Asylum moved forward and made the first movie adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs's John Carter of Mars. Instead of actually having the audacity to tread on thin ice by calling the film John Carter of Mars, they opted for Princess of Mars. As an average uneducated sci-fi B-movie watcher, you’d never know the film was based on an Edgar Rice Burroughs's story or creation as they give him credit nowhere in the main titles. I don’t know what that’s all about. You’d think they would want to use everything at their disposal to promote and exploit this thing. It’s their very nature to do so.

Once again, this feels like it was done on the fly, which is what gives these movies their charm. The film editing and direction suits it just fine and operates to keep the lowest amount of special effects shot possible to still make it remotely entertaining. You know the drill by now. Shoot all the action sequences very close as to not have to spend too much time on wide shots or digital scene editing. Show the actors lurch up to jump, cut to a far away shot of them flying through the air, and then cut back to them landing in a crouch. Its genius and The Asylum team does it best! I’ve got to tell you that the special effects are nowhere near as bad as you would think they’d be. The Princess of Mars’ transport ship does look dangerously like the model crew broke into Skywalker Ranch and stole Jabba’s Land Barge from Return of the Jedi. They even have these speeder bike looking things they ride. Coincidence or someone on the Asylum “special effects” crew having a weird fixation on Lucas’ Ewok-tainted third film in the original Star Wars trilogy? You decide.

The actors. Ah, the actors. We’ve got Antonio Sabato, Jr hamming it up half-naked as John Carter with some of the worst badly placed tattoos I’ve ever seen. What male has a lower back tattoo? It feels like they actually paid him to be onset more than a couple of days. Then there’s the cream of the crop – Traci Lords - using her same brand of acting she’s come to be known for in flicks and TV shows like The Tommyknockers and Hercules. Strangely enough for a B-movie nerd extravaganza, she has more clothes on throughout the movie than Sabato, Jr. She suits the part of the Princess of Mars well, though. You can’t help but feel a little stab of nostalgia for 80’s movies like Red Sonja, Conan, The Destroyer, and Beastmaster. It does almost feel like they only paid her enough to be onset one day, however.

The Asylum should do great with this release. All the John Carter of Mars fans that have been eagerly awaiting some kind of movie adaptation of the source material will no doubt rent or buy it. SyFy Channel is guaranteed to get good ratings when it’s aired in the token Saturday prime time slot they show these types of films in. Now I’m not saying Carter fans won’t be disappointed, but they’ll see it nonetheless and it really isn’t THAT bad. (Review by Eric Shirey)