Red Planet (12)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/12/2000

One out of five stars
Running time: 105 mins.

Unbelievably awful sci-fi film: stupid, badly-acted, and worst of all, boring. Avoid.

If trashy sci-fi flicks are your thing, then you’re spoiled for choice right now, what with this and Pitch Black both doing the rounds. If there’s any justice though, this will swiftly sink without trace. It’s so bad, it makes Pitch Black look good!

The year is 2057, and the Earth is polluted beyond salvation. Experiments in creating an atmosphere on Mars seem to have gone a bit pear-shaped, so a group of scientists are sent to investigate. However, something goes wrong, and the scientists (including Kilmer’s self-styled ‘Space Janitor’, Sizemore’s crack biology expert and Terrance Stamp) crash-land their space-pod on Mars, while spaceship captain Bowman (Carrie-Ann Moss, far better than this movie deserves) tries to rectify things from the orbiting spaceship. Further complications ensue when their landscape-mapping "robot dog" A-MEE goes mental and tries to kill everyone.

It could all have been so different. Mars movies are a sci-fi fan’s dream and, a year ago, it looked as if this would be in direct competition with Brian DePalma’s Mission To Mars. However, when that flopped (deservedly so, by all accounts), hopes were pinned on this. Sadly, those hopes were unfounded. Red Planet is badly acted (Kilmer’s the worst culprit – he smirks his way through the whole film with an embarrassed look on his face), and it has a truly awful script. Stamp, in particular, spouts a huge amount of philosophical cobblers before abruptly expiring from a ruptured spleen. ("It’s my spleen – I’ll never make it! Go on without me" etc).

There are pointless plot developments, too – for example, one character pushes another off a cliff and the other characters don’t even question him about it! Finally, as if the preceding 100 minutes hadn’t been ridiculous enough, Kilmer actually flips off the entire planet at the end, with a presumably ‘crowd-pleasing’ cry of "Screw this planet!"… Perhaps the film’s biggest crime, however, is to criminally waste Carrie-Ann Moss by stranding her on the spaceship for the entire movie, like a bad episode of Star Trek. She is by far the best thing in the film, though that’s not saying much. If you’re planning on seeing it just for her, then wait for the video and fast-forward to her scenes.

Otherwise, avoid like the plague.

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Content updated: 11/12/2017 00:30

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