I suppose it might be interesting to see a realistic portrayal of what the attempted colonization of Mars might be like, but leave it to Hollywood to over-dramatize a trip to Mars and turn it into a cliché invasion.
This first thing that happens is the bigass ship that's sent to Mars is hit by some sort of solar flare which knocks out the power, starts a bunch of fires, and causes the crew -- with the exception of Commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss) -- to jump on their lander and head for the surface. In the pod are Gallagher (Val Kilmer), Burchenal (Tom Sizemore), Santen (Benjamin Bratt), Pettengil (Simon Baker) and Chantilas (Terence Stamp). Of course, on the way down there are problems with the lander, all sorts of things fail, and they crash into the ground, leaving them kilometers from their habitat with barely enough air to survive. And since Terence Stamp is obviously the best actor of the bunch, he's quickly killed off.
Do they not test any of this equipment before heading off into space? These people do less beta testing than Microsoft. It's like they drove off in the Yugo of space ships. The second they hit one small bump, the entire thing explodes and pieces start falling off. Basically, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Another familiar cliché is the smart machine that suddenly goes haywire and turns against its designers. In this case, that machine is AMEE, a dog-like robot that crashes with the lander, malfunctions, and decides its time to hunt everyone down. Gallagher appears to be so in tune with the demands of the lame script that he takes their inevitable death with a grain of salt, practically saying, "Oh well. AMEE will now hunt us down and kill us." Does anybody ever think to just put an "off" button on these damn things?
Bowman, stuck on the ship, uses a powerful telescope to find the crew walking about on the planet. Too bad she couldn't have used the same telescope to check and see if maybe the habitat was still functioning because when they finally find the thing, it's torn to shreds. Turns out there's life on Mars too and -- wouldn't you know it -- they like killing humans even more than robotic dogs do. To top it all off, "Red Planet" ends with the typical inexplicable "humans overcoming technology" climax that seems really heroic, but makes no sense whatsoever. Remember the lesson of movies about Mars. Red equals danger.
To spread the word about this Red Planet review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.