Director: Antony Hoffman
Running Time: 106 Minutes
This movie is the perfect example of how type-casting and failing careers should have no bearing on the film-making process. At the time of release Carrie-Anne Moss was a hit because of The Matrix and no-one had really seen anything, let alone anything good, come from Val Kilmer since The Saint which had Elizabeth Shue in it, who has about as much acting ability as a shoe. Kilmer has only two facial expressions – smirk with mouth open or smirk with mouth closed. The only movies that come to mind when I think of him, other than The Saint, are Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Batman Forever. Gods helps us all!
We have exhausted the Earth of its resources and need to find a new place to live. Over the years, drones and teams have traveled to the Red Planet to investigate its viability for terraforming. The film starts where the terraforming has already begun, with green algae being introduced to the planet, which will photosynthesis and produce oxygen, making the planet’s air breathable. Science did this! Our intrepid explorers journey for 3 months to the now habitable planet. A biosite has been set up with fresh produce being grown in a greenhouse and a clean, livable space for the 6 astronauts.
Also on-board is a military grade defense robot, named AMEE (Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion). She is fitted with defensive procedures but is being used, in the instance, as a recon bot and will be gathering data and scouting areas. We can all see where this is going? Can’t we? Yeah, we can! There is an unexpected solar flare or some such, which damages the ship and forces the team to launch to the surface sooner than planned. The landing doesn’t go as smoothly as anticipated which leaves one dude with internal bleeding and the others feigning sadness.
They start to make their way to the habitat, but things are not as they seem on Mars. No green algae can be seen anywhere and at times the sandy surface seems to move. On top of this, out heroes are running out of air in their suits and have to contend with a killer robot as well.
Performances & Special Effects
This movie cost a cool 75 million USD. With that kinda money being waved about and the beauty of The Matrix released just the year before, I expected a hell of a lot more than a few dudes trekking trough Arizona. To be fair, some of the FX were really good, even great. Like AMEE’s animation and texturing. She looks a little dated now be is still more than passable at 15 years old. There’s a lot of gadgetry in this film. Bowman (Moss) stays on the ship for the duration of the film and is frequently seen interacting with a highly sophisticated interface which seems to serve no purpose other than being able to zoom in to a location on the planet’s surface. My general feeling here is that though not bad, the FX could have been better considering the budget and subject matter of the film. Especially when they designed and used this amazing suit (pictured below), but only in the final 10 minutes of the film.
I don’t know what the worst part of this movie is. It was a disaster from beginning to end. First there are the flashbacks of scenes that happened less than 10 minutes prior, add to this is Chantilas’ (Terence Stamp) weird wanna be philosophical rhetoric, rounded off with the very strong Pitch Black similarities. Did I mention Bowman’s entirely unnecessary narration? No? Well, Bowman narrated the initial plot arch at the start of the film and also sees us out with a cheesy narration of “getting to know Gallagher” (Kilmer) better on the 3 month journey back to Earth. No mention of the lose of life that happened on that red rock or the fact that an immense scientific discovery had been made, just space sex.
The sciencing and theologising were both soft in this film with Chantilas saying that science could not answer all of his questions, so he turned to God. I’m not a hardcore advocate for atheism, I’m more of an agnostic at this point in my life but this sort of statement is just daft. The leaping assumptions made by these so called “scientists” is an embarrassment to the field and quite frankly, these issues with the script and plot made it extremely difficult to identify with the characters on any level. I can’t say that I cared about any of them. I was most affected by AMEE’s “death” and she was a bloody robot!
My Rating: 2.5/5
Buy or rent Red Planet on Amazon.com
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