Director: Ruairi Robinson
Ever since “Total Recall,” Mars has had a hard road in the world of cinema. We had “Red Planet” and “Mission to Mars” be mediocre around the same time, I remember thinking “Ghosts of Mars” was the worst movie ever made, “John Carter” had all sorts of problems, and even though “Species” was soft core sci-fi-porn it was still pretty terrible. Maybe the big budget route is not the way to go. Maybe a finer touch is required to bring out the potential of the 4th planet from the sun.
“The Last Days on Mars” tells the story of a research crews’ last few hours on the red planet. They’ve been there for six months and their mission has been less than fruitful. They were aiming to find signs of life, or better yet actual life, and have repeatedly failed in doing so. Or that’s we are lead to believe. Scientific misanthrope, Marko Petrovic (Goran Kostic’) found something that may be promising. He keeps it under wraps so he can go on one last Mar’s walk. On his journey, there’s a fissure that swallows a couple of crew members and Captain Charles Brunel (Elia Koteas) and, reliable right hand engineer, Vincent Campbell (Liev Schrieber) go to their rescue. Once inside the alcove they discover signs of an alien bacteria.
That’s great, right? That’s kind of why they were there.
Yeah, that’s true, but it turns out it’s more like a bacteria that turns people into zombie-like things that are hell bent on killing you for reasons I don’t really understand.
Oh….well that’s bad.
Yeah, it also grinds down the plot into a run-of-the-mill zombie movie. There’s gore, betrayal, and lots and lots of grunting and screaming. The cast unsurprisingly twiddles down to the guy on the poster and then it just kind of ends with little to no closure.
Whoa, what happened? It seemed like “The Last Days of Mars” had a lot of potential.
Well, I felt like it did. It had a great cast, thought provoking premise, and a creative team that’s ripe with talent. This may be Ruairi Robinson’s first feature film, but his shorts’ “BlinkyTM” and “Fifty Percent Grey” were well executed pieces of storytelling. Somehow this movie devolved into a fairly paint-by-numbers horror thriller that squabbled what it had going for it. Liev Schrieber is one of my favorite living actors and even though he masterfully runs away from space zombies, I wanted to see him do a little bit more. He was claustrophobic, but I didn’t really see him overcome that.
I almost liked the photography in this movie. The actual cinematography is admirable, but when it comes to telling the story, it kind of falls apart with the rest of the action. It seems to have a clear vision in the beginning, but once the zombies start attacking, it devolves into quick cuts and incomprehensible close ups. Mars itself also had some problems. I can not say I was ever lost in the illusion. The equipment and scientific method never really looked practical and the surface of Mars never seemed “alien.” I feel like it takes more than some color grading to make Jordan look like a different planet.
When push comes to shove, “The Last Days on Mars” is not a bad movie. In fact, it’s a fairly good zombie movie. The problem is I just have zombie fatigue. The format for zombie movies hasn’t really changed since Romero put them in a mall. I’m judging this movie harshly, because I feel like it had way more to offer. There was a great premise, cast, and creative team. I just wanted them to dig a little deeper rather than just do “The Walking Dead” on a different planet.
GET YOUR ASS TO MARS
- Since Liev Schrieber is not going to be Batman, fuck it, make him “The Punisher.” It’s a better role anyway.
- I was wrong in my opening paragraph. “Rocketman” is an amazing movie that revolves around Mars.