Red Planet
Dir: Antony Hoffman
Star: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore
Cert / Year: 12 - PG13 / 2000
Format: DVD R1

It is a shame that the best film that Hollywood has made about a mission to Mars is Capricorn One, a film where no one actually reached Mars. Red Planet definitely goes no way to change this.

It is some time in the future and mankind (probably the Americans) have used up the earths natural resources and polluted the atmosphere. Our future hopes turn to terra forming Mars, and to this end the planet has been seeded with atmosphere converting lichen. However something has gone wrong. The lichen has disappeared and the atmospheric changes are reversing, therefore a manned mission is sent to investigate. Upon reaching Mars disaster strikes, and the crew are forced to abandon ship leaving the Commander Kate Bowman (Moss) to effect repairs. Things go from bad to worse when the crew (Kilmer, et al) on the planet are faced with the destruction of their supplies of oxygen and are being stalked by their own homicidally malfunctioning robot. On top of this is still the mystery of the lichen and the atmospheric changes.

Oh what a mess! Is this an exploration movie like Mission to Mars, or a technology gone wrong movie like 2001, or an Alien movie? Who the hell knows, or after watching it, cares. The biggest single problem with the film is Chuck Pfarrers script ( the man who wrote the stinkers Barb Wire and Virus). It varies from dull and pointless, to terrible. Fine examples of just how bad it is are the deleted scenes, which are so bad that they would have happily fitted into the Showgirls script.

The second greatest crime of this film is the direction, which lacks any tension or excitement. Every piece of action is completely wasted with the pointless dialogue that both precedes and follows it. Unfortunately this gives you a chance to notice the huge plot holes. For example a space ship that can be practically destroyed by solar flares, or the fact that the craft sent to investigate the atmosphere has no instruments for actually testing it. The best of all is the radio transmitter built NOT from the parts of an old probe used to communicate with earth, but the tiny rover vechicle that talked to the probe. It is amazing that a studio put so much money, and such a cast into this turkey.

David Essex once sang "Every cloud has a silver lining", and he is right. In this case it comes mainly from the special effects, which are for the most part very good. The landing sequence for the crew craft is especially good. Also occasionally Val Kilmer gets a good one-liner to say (Which almost wakes to sleepwalking cast up). Lastly, on a more sexist note, a film that requires Carrie-Anne Moss to inexplicably run around wearing very little cannot be all bad.

Red Planet is fatally flawed, if you want Mars exploration watch Mission to Mars . Otherwise watch Pitch Black as this film has everything Red Planet does not. As the tag line should have read "Not a sound. Not a warning. Not a chance. Not alone. Not worth watching."

Rating: 1 out of 5

Logan's view:

Corporate Business does Sci-Fi

Before you watch the Red Planet, you must be prepared to suspend your disbelief and if possible vaccuum pack it and store it somewhere safe that or just lobotomise yourself. The result will be quite similar after watching this film. You might even enjoy it....the lobotomy that is and not the film.

The scientific aspect of the film is very dubious indeed, the entire film is hounded by advertisements for various companies including "Nokia, IBM, Hughes Aviation" to name but a few. The space suits are flimsier than a wet suit and look more like track suits and are emblazoned with corporate logo's which gets annoying and there is no escape from them all the way through the film, which is painfully predictable. The flashback sequences are pointless and mostly frustrating.

Terence Stamp (what were you thinking?) looks unsurprisingly uncomfortable in his short lived role, and to be honest he has done a LOT, LOT better. Val Kilmer gets all of the best lines (what there are of them) and I could even forgive him for the likes of The Island of Dr Moreau and Batman Forever. (Nah, maybe not) Carrie-Anne Moss seems to make the best of a bad deal in her role, seeing her in the extended shower scene you think the film has just got better and is bound to get the average Testosterone levels up (it does briefly) until Val Kilmer walks in, but not even that brief glimpse of heaven can save this film. Her best role to date still has to be as Trinity in The Matrix. Tom Sizemore struggles through a poor role for an actor of his calibre. The best part of this pointlessly long and boring film is the effects for the robot, A.M.E.E which is outstanding.

Basically if you value your sanity then don't even bother watching this film "Mission to Mars" is a lot better. (But that isn't saying much)

Rating: 1 out of 5

Picture 2.35:1 Anamorphic Very high quality.
Audio 5.1 Dolby Digital Spatial positioning is impressive and of special note is the bit where the robot Amee appears above Val Kilmer.
Features Cast biographies
Pointless deleted scenes which are more of a testament to the skill of the editor rather than the writer or director
Verdict Top quality picture and sound with very few extras. Not much of a loss for a film of this quality.

Rating: 2 out of 5

Reviewed by Glitz Back Top Home