STARRING: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore, Benjamin
Bratt, Terence Stamp
2000, 116 Minutes, Directed by: Antony Hoffman
As the voice-over at the beginning of Red Planet informs us, in
the future, after realising that Earth will one day be uninhabitable because
of our pollution, plans are made to terraform and eventually colonise
basically means making changes to a planet's ecosystem to make it capable
of sustaining human life, in this case, creating a breathable atmosphere.
"Shake and bake planets" as characters in Aliens
referred to it. Apparently the concept is within the realm of the possible
and one that scientists have been toying around with.
However, things go wrong and a manned mission is sent to Mars to investigate.
For some reason the mission is led by someone named Bowman (after a character
in 2001: A Space Odyssey) and is played by the
babe from The Matrix . . .
humanity have any intrinsic right to use up and destroy one planet, and
then simply move on to the next one to use up and destroy it also? Should
Mars be radically changed, or should the planet be declared one big nature
reserve and left alone? These are the sort of questions that characters in Kim Stanley Robinson's
brilliant Red Mars trilogy of books discussed a lot, but they are
not the sort of question that seems to bother any of the characters in
Red Planet. The only character remotely interested in philosophical
issues of any sort dies early on in the movie (just like a similar character
in the pathetic Supernova, which I also recently
saw), so we're stuck with a Val Kilmer with hair dyed yellow instead.
It's a shame that according to Red Planet one would only want
to want to leave Mars as soon as one has landed on it. At one point Val
Kilmer gives the planet the finger and growls "fuck this planet."
Forget about sense of wonder at having landed on another planet. However,
once you have accepted that Red Planet isn't interested in being
a serious movie about going to Mars, but instead a big budgeted B-movie,
then you're on your way to a more passable time at the cinemas. Does Red
Planet have any alien bugs? Check. A haywire killer robot? Check. Carrie Ann Moss in the shower. Check - although you don't see much I'm
judging from the above you might think that Red Planet is fun.
Actually it's not really. It's better than that other recent Mars movie,
Mission to Mars, but that isn't too much of
a recommendation when one thinks about it.
It's a passable way to pass two hours if you've really got nothing better
to do. The special effects are okay, so is the music and the production
designs. Some of the hardware is interesting (the robot dog and the Martian
landing vehicle). The dialogue and acting is bland, and the story is predictable.
However, the net effect is simply mediocre. Red Planet is one of
those movies that you won't discuss walking out of the cinema and will
forget ever having seen within a day or two.