I've just walked out of this film and was mildly surprised not to see two moons in the sky!
For over two hours I felt I was totally immersed in another world. I was excited to see this film and it did not disappoint. It made the last three Star Wars movies look like @#$%! and it served as a reminder as to where George Lucas got most of his ideas (along with Isaac Asimov, whom I'm surprised never sued him).
It's been decades since I read the stories so I won't even try to compare but for me the essence remained intact. The stories created a genre; the sci-fi fantasy adventure and Burroughs, despite some literary shortcomings, was the master who seemed able to churn them out effortlessly. Were he still alive, I'm sure he would be pleased with this effort.
I cannot remember if Burroughs gave Carter a back story, but I'm glad the movie did and the opening sequence was as good as any western. The flashbacks (always risky) worked well here and served to drive motivation.
But beyond the basic story is the creation of the Barsoomian world. Jaw-droppingly superb, utterly believable and the cgi never once overtook the story but was always in service to it. This film is a special effects master class on how to get it right.
There was only one Disneyesque intrusion - the big mouthed "dog" (I was reminded of Lockjaw in Marvel comics' Fantastic Four) but even this never got too out of bounds and for younger viewers probably added some comic relief to what was a fairly grim tale, though broadly painted.
I personally would have been happy to see this run to three hours just so I could immerse myself even deeper into the Martian/Barsoomian world.
This movie is what it is: a damn good adventure story. Not breaking new ground (does it have to?) but doing a solid job of going over familiar territory in a way that does not insult its audience.
Speaking of which: NO Jah Jah Binks!