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Overall Rating
2.11

Awesome: 4.39%
Worth A Look: 21.05%
Average: 8.77%
Pretty Bad: 12.28%
Total Crap53.51%

6 reviews, 78 user ratings


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Ghosts of Mars
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Carpenter at his I-don't-give-a-shit worst."
1 stars

Cheese can be flavorful or rancid -- the kind of cheese one sees on movie screens, as well as the edible kind -- and John Carpenter, in his previous few films, had specialized in tasty cheese: unapologetic slices of genre entertainment for those who like it with edge and style. "Vampires," despite its title, was really a grungy, bad-attitude Western, and even Carpenter's much-maligned sequel/remake "Escape from L.A." could be taken as a satire of itself. At his best, Carpenter works with a triple sense of intelligence, purpose, and fun.

Ghosts of Mars is not Carpenter at his best. It may very well be Carpenter at rock bottom. It lacks the three elements noted above: intelligence here is as sparse as breathable air on Mars, the movie feels pointless, and it's almost completely humorless (except for the derisive chuckles earned by some of the dialogue -- Carpenter had better jettison his script collaborator Larry Sulkis pronto). Ironically, Ghosts of Mars arrived the same weekend as Kevin Smith's Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back; in both, well-loved cult directors pay tribute to themselves. But whereas Smith does it jokingly and self-deprecatingly, Carpenter does it half-heartedly, as if he had no energy left to do anything except lazily cannibalizing himself.

We're on Mars, circa 2176; the red planet has been "terraformed" (made safe for human habitation) by Earth's "matriarchal" society. (Does the whole matriarchy angle have any bearing whatsoever on what goes on in the movie? Nope, except to explain why many of the cops we see are female. The idea of a matriarchy is intriguing and completely ignored.) A bunch of cops, led by Natasha Henstridge, are assigned to transport a dangerous criminal known as Desolation Williams (Ice Cube). Ah, Carpenter and his bad-ass street names for anti-heroes: Napoleon Wilson (Assault on Precinct 13), Snake Plissken (the Escape films), and now Desolation, who turns out to be one of the few humans left alive in Chryse, the Martian town where he'd been stowed in jail.

Seems most of the humans have been possessed by Martian entities, who turn them evil, compel them to ravage their flesh, and force them to look like the extras in a bad Ozzy Osbourne video. Natasha and her cops (including Clea DuVall, Pam Grier, and Jason Statham) and Desolation and his fellow inmates join forces against the nasty Martian drones, who enjoy decapitating people and dangling the corpses upside down when they're not sticking needles into their own flesh. Say this for the Martians -- they know how to party.

This is recognizably a Carpenter film in theme (and plot) only. It feels like a shallow, made-for-cable wannabe-Carpenter ripoff. Anyone could have directed most of it; there's a "sting" here and there as figures pop into the frame suddenly, but Carpenter's detachment even extends to his musical score, which leans heavily on Anthrax crap-metal guitar riffs that dependably go whannggg ... whonnggg every time the Martians or their stupid-looking leader (what is it lately with Carpenter and head villains who look like the lead singers of hair-metal bands?) show up.

The plot is entirely about how this ragtag group fights the siege, but Carpenter did it cheaper and better 25 years ago in Assault on Precinct 13. This time he also adopts a pointless flashback structure -- sometimes flashbacks within flashbacks -- and falls into the same self-spoiling trap that Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 did: if you're watching a story being told in flashback by a character in the present, you know that character survives! And here, you also figure everyone else dies except Ice Cube, who is first-billed on the posters.

Carpenter, as always, gets the very top billing; the movie, on the screen as well as in the ads, is fully titled "John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars." A more apt title might've been "Alan Smithee's Ghosts of Mars."

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=5345&reviewer=416
originally posted: 12/28/06 13:12:08
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User Comments

2/21/17 morris campbell more carpenter crap 1 stars
9/01/12 Sean Harrison It's hard to believe this drivel came from one of the all-time masters of horror. 2 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison Disappointing from John Carpenter, one of the horror greats. 2 stars
1/26/12 Devin Sabas fun, but pretty terrible. 2 stars
12/16/11 Johnny Come-Lately nice B-movie and underrated 4 stars
9/23/10 PAUL SHORTT FEEBLE AND PREDICTABLE 1 stars
12/05/09 Chris F not a bad film at all worth watching 4 stars
9/14/09 Jeff Wilder Great special effects undercut by bad writing and weak acting. 1 stars
2/16/09 belike I thought the movie looked cool, the story just kinda kinda sucked. 3 stars
1/15/09 FrankNFurter Like a high school performance of "Alien."And by a really bad drama club. 2 stars
10/22/08 Shaun Wallner The only thing i remember bout this one is Ice Cube biting his lower lip. 1 stars
2/17/07 Vip Ebriega Nothin' really new. 2 stars
2/03/07 AJ Muller It ain't meant to be Asimov, folks. A fun 'n bloody time, don't take it too seriously. 4 stars
6/23/06 TempLoop Underated. If you expected 2001, or Starship Troopers look elsewhere 4 stars
4/03/06 Rocky This movie was totally entertaining and a lot of fun. 4 stars
3/15/06 Tom bla? 3 stars
8/12/05 ES After 'The Thing' and 'Big Trouble ILC' Why? Why? Why?!? 1 stars
6/08/05 JD No oscar winner but, entertaining and worth a look. 4 stars
6/06/05 ultrazone I enjoyed it, the score and the editing in particular 4 stars
5/15/05 Indrid Cold One of many barely watchable Carpenter movies, this one looks like it was made for TV. 2 stars
10/16/04 Don Eckert I can't believe this is the same director of "The Thing". I hope he can get his magic back 1 stars
10/08/04 X Thats it! Im through with Carpenter! 1 stars
9/17/04 Jillian Wood interesting, futuristic, inventive 4 stars
9/04/04 Vince WTF happened to the Carpenter who made THE THING ???? 1 stars
7/15/04 Daveman Has the general aesthetics of a b-movie but without the fun. 1 stars
6/12/04 Raymond Lee average movie, nothing special 3 stars
6/03/04 Shaun Worth a look, I actually enjoyed it somewhat. 4 stars
5/16/04 John should be playing in a drive in theatre - 3 stars
4/11/04 American Slasher Goddess Awful,Carpenter has lost it,indefinitely. 1 stars
2/10/04 Whatevr A 2-hour version of a sleeping pill 1 stars
1/26/04 Eric Great Cast!!!Horrible movie.....Really Horrible 1 stars
12/04/03 Charles Tatum I officially give up on John Carpenter 1 stars
11/25/03 josex sucks as hell, don't watch it 1 stars
11/22/03 jack Ice cube doenst make anything worth watching. if anything he makes me want to screw a sheep 3 stars
11/18/03 he a good film 4 stars
10/24/03 Josh Standlee Ice Cube made the movie worth watching. 4 stars
9/25/03 jimmy d this movie was so scary, i went home and when the pizza guy came i shot at him by accident. 4 stars
8/23/03 nr great 5 stars
8/07/03 P.Rodriguez This is the WORST movie ever 1 stars
6/30/03 Dave Hopman John Carpenter has lost his touch a long time ago....... 1 stars
5/14/03 Kyle A fun movie, I guess... 3 stars
4/28/03 Jack Bourbon I'm very pleased to give this movie a "SUCKS." My good deed for the day. 1 stars
3/13/03 me A AWESOME FILM 5 stars
2/16/03 Vince Stay far away from this POS. You've been warned! 1 stars
1/15/03 othree a worth while attempt, solid casting, a sci fi chan movie filler ..no need for editing 3 stars
12/31/02 Jack Sommersby A very entertaining b-movie parody. So much fun! 4 stars
10/27/02 Mr. Hat Jason Stathom tried his best to save it, but bad music & hilariously bad aliens overcome... 2 stars
10/21/02 Jim Watchable only for Statham, who hits on Henstridge at a crucial moment and she GOES FOR IT? 2 stars
10/14/02 JesseL Not bad for its type. Cinematography is good. 4 stars
10/07/02 P.Rodriguez Worst Movie Ever, and I've seen ALOT of movies 1 stars
9/25/02 jessica A GREAT FILM 5 stars
9/09/02 Ben Wasden Natasha Henstrige and Ice Cube are great. Unfortunately, the movie isn't that great. 3 stars
8/23/02 Fish Eye I seriously enjoy movies with Ice Cube...but the script for this one is dog shit 1 stars
6/26/02 Film Guy OK. not John Carpenters best effort 3 stars
6/24/02 Rog Stay the hell away from this movie, I cant believe i spent 10 bucks in my hotel for this 1 stars
6/01/02 monica Sweet 5 stars
5/18/02 Phoenix An absolutely terrible movie. This what John Carpenter has been reduced to. 1 stars
5/15/02 Blake This movie was great but had to much profanity 4 stars
4/13/02 Spencer Lent Sucked. 1 stars
2/28/02 Alan Smithee My lord was this movie terrible. What in the hell has happened to John Carpenter?!!!!! 1 stars
1/21/02 Soap Lando I viewed it drunk in a theater full of bad guys applauding each time a cop was killed 3 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent Natasha can't act. Best line: "I'm going to rip your titties off" and "Who are you calling 1 stars
1/19/02 Rego Allegro To be seen as a parody of B-movies - call it C or D-movie (to be seen by Kiss' ex-fans 4 stars
1/08/02 Spyguy2 Satisfying as Cheetos if you don't mind the orange crap staining your hands and mouth 4 stars
12/31/01 Jake This movie is better than it's reviews. It was worth viewing. Solid all around. 4 stars
12/30/01 Sthenno Not a bad film at all.Carpenter mixed many old themes from his past films. Well directed. 4 stars
12/23/01 Shane Robert Myers!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is worth a look & i couldnt either rate it a good or bad movie! so its both!!!!!!!!!!!!! 4 stars
12/06/01 DubStar I feel stupider for renting this movie. Worst directing, acting, story, special fx EVER. 1 stars
11/07/01 P.Rodriguez Seriously the shittiest acting I ever encountered in any movie, and I've seen LOTS ofmovies 1 stars
10/10/01 Andrew Carden I Love Joanna Cassidy. Anything With Her Must Be Worth A Look. 4 stars
10/09/01 marzio arigoni it's not that bad! venice loved it (1200 people à la première, with great partecipation) 4 stars
9/06/01 outnow.ch even Red Planet was better. 1 stars
9/05/01 E-Funk It's Carpenter folks...cheesier than most, but still a hell of a ride. 4 stars
9/05/01 ron20003 What the hell was that?? 1 stars
9/02/01 Rampage almost as bad as Escape From L.A. 1 stars
9/02/01 Bill Clinton I liked the scene with the nude intern, I would like to get up on her and ride her! Whohah 5 stars
8/29/01 Daphne Aguilera when there's only you and 3 other people in the theather something's wrong 1 stars
8/28/01 wintermute 2 words: Chrome MAC-10's 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  24-Aug-2001 (R)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  25-Oct-2001 (M)




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