Red Planet


Directed by: Anthony Hoffman
Written by:Chuck Pfarrer, Jonathan Lemkin
Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker, Terence Stamp
Released: December 7, 2000
Grade: C

The year is 2057 and man has overpopulated the Earth.  The decision has to be made to colonise Mars but it’s an effort that will take time.  Algae has been planted on the surface of the red planet to create oxygen and a colony established through robotics technology.  Still, no one has actually set foot on Mars until now.  When the algae starts disappearing, a team of six are forced to take the six-month journey to solve the mystery.

When the spacecraft encounters a meteor shower on entry, the mission collapses.  Team commander Kate Bowman (Moss) is left aboard the depleting ship as her five crew members take the emergency launch vehicle to the surface.  Chantlias (Stamp) is fatally injured in the decent leaving just four survivors.  They have just 8 hours of oxygen to find the colony and then there’ll be the matter of finding a way back to the ship and there’s no guarantee that it survived the shower unharmed.

I am so very tired of reviewing films like this on a weekly basis.  I need to create a template where I just enter the name of the film and the actors and let the computer do the rest.  The words I’m looking for are formulaic, predictable and uninteresting.

Screenwriters Chuck Pfarrer and Jonathan Lemkin have borrowed from many other science-fiction films to create the standard story.  The dialogue is dreadful and the many impossible situations they find themselves in before miraculously escaping are done to overkill.

No money was spent on extras and there are just the six crew members making up the entire cast.  You think they’d have spent the savings on better effects.  First time director Antony Hoffman makes nothing of his opportunity in the director’s chair nor does all the cast.

Filmed in Australia, there was a major fallout between Tom Sizemore and Val Kilmer during shooting which became public.  Both never want to work together again and their lack of interest in the product shows through in their performances - these characters are so boring.

Red Planet is the second film this year to base its story on man’s first landing on Mars (following Mission To Mars) and this raises several questions.  Why in both movies does the mission go wrong - is this what we really hope will happen?  Why in both movies do they find life on Mars without any previous indications?  I loved The Dish because of its compelling yarn and the numbing feeling I was left with watching mankind accomplish the unthinkable - putting a man on the moon.  In Red Planet, I couldn’t care less.  It’s just trashy science-fiction garbage.