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The Last Days On Mars: In space no one can hear you snore

April 25, 2014

The Last Days on Mars movie poster

The Last Days On Mars is a well-acted bore fest that features decent set design, wonky villains and zero joy. The survival-horror film doesn’t push for Apollo 18 oddness, Europa Report’s intelligence or the all-out insanity of Prometheus. It is a 90-minute bland hybrid that doesn’t allow the fine cast to differentiate themselves from the barrenness of the red planet. People die, people argue and you twiddle your thumbs.

John Carter, Ghost of Mars, Red Planet, Doom, Mission to Mars, and Mars Needs Moms have proven that Mars cannot be conquered. Sure, we might get the occasional fun visitor (Mars Attacks), Criterion classic (Robinson Crusoe on Mars) or Paul Verhoeven action fest (Total Recall). However, the majority of Mars films have failed (26% Average score on RT) despite big directors (DePalma, Stanton, Carpenter) and big stars (The Rock, Don Cheadle, Tim Robbins).

The biggest problem with The Last Days on Mars is that it would be boring if it took place anywhere. The planet Mars is not the culprit. The film wouldn’t be exciting if it took place on Hoth, Pandora or in From Dusk Till Dawn’s Titty Twister. There is zero reason for the zombies, and zero reason for the people to turn on each other. You begin to wonder if these people ever watched a horror film. They leave dead people laying around and ignore obvious injuries that will certainly come into play later. Also, one man makes the mistake of trying to bear hug an angry zombie who knows how to operate drills. If there is one thing I’ve learned from horror movies is that you should never bear hug a zombie with a power drill

The Last Days on Mars zombie

I kept hoping that the snarling zombie king from Ghost of Mars would pop up and start screaming his gibberish whilst his minions attack the compound. Then, Val Kilmer, Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Pam Grier and Jason Statham ride up on the John Carter beasts and everything starts to resemble a Lord of the Rings battle.

My hopes were dashed as the film moved slowly towards the inevitable. Basically, the crew have 19 hours left on Mars, they find something and it all goes awry. There are no shocks, frills, bombast or moon rock spiders. The film is so straight-forward you can tick off what happens next. I think the director was going for Alien tension but ditched it for space critter mayhem. You don’t have time to care for the characters because the violence happens so fast. The perpetrators are ashen faced jerks whom have no agenda other than stabbing people with power drills. How do martian zombies know how to use drills? Why are they so angry?

I wonder why the actors took the job. Were they in between roles? Did they owe somebody a favor? Did they think the young talented director could pull a Duncan Jones (Moon, Source Code) and make a great science fiction film? Was the short story (The Animators) it was based on good? Liev Schreiber (Goon), Olivia Williams (Rushmore), Elias Koteas (Let Me In, Zodiac, TMNT) are all fantastic actors who are given nothing to do.

The Last Days On Mars is not good or bad. It is forgettable fluff that features nothing new and manages to be a boring space zombie movie. Don’t watch it. Watch something great (Sunshine, Moon, 2001, Alien) or watch something beautifully dumb (Apollo 18, Ghost of Mars, Prometheus).

2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 25, 2014 8:15 am

    The cast makes most of this material work, but by the same token, it’s very conventional and gets really dumb out of nowhere. Good review.

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