More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 

Overall Rating

Awesome: 2.73%
Worth A Look: 10.91%
Average: 21.82%
Pretty Bad40.91%
Total Crap: 23.64%

11 reviews, 44 user ratings

Latest Reviews

Pollinators, The by Jay Seaver

Cold Case Hammarskjold by Jay Seaver

Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache by Lybarger

One Child Nation (aka Born in China) by Jay Seaver

Kingdom (2019) by Jay Seaver

Chained for Life by Rob Gonsalves

Ready or Not by Peter Sobczynski

Nightingale, The by Jay Seaver

Line Walker 2: Invisible Spy by Jay Seaver

Death of Dick Long, The by Jay Seaver

subscribe to this feed

Red Planet
[] Buy posters from this movie
by EricDSnider

"Why must going to Mars always be such a dreary prospect?"
2 stars

Earlier this year, we had "Mission to Mars," which was slow and miserable, not to mention full of itself. Now there's "Red Planet," a film that is at least as bad (albeit in a different way), and every bit as dull.

It's the 2050s, and, wouldn't you know it, we've really screwed up Earth. Planning ahead, we've already sent robots and stuff to Mars to build a habitat and grow some algae, which produces oxygen, which will hopefully someday be enough for humans to go there and live. Before the place could become habitable, though, we've suddenly lost contact with Mars, so a crew of six is sent on the six-month journey to see what's up.

We learn all this in the opening narration by Commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss, from "The Matrix"), who is leading this first manned mission to Mars. The journey takes only about 20 minutes of the movie, in which time we're shown brief, unenlightening scenes that are meant to establish the characters.

Robby Gallagher (Val Kilmer) is the bland, soft-spoken space janitor (or maintenance technician, or something) who has a thing for Bowman, and who is not alone in those sentiments. Ted Santen (Benjamin Bratt) is a cocky, self-centered jerk who either has a relationship with Bowman, or who is just on very friendly terms with her, the movie is unclear which.

Dr. Quinn Burchenal (Tom Sizemore) is a doughy scientist who makes his own moonshine in a back room of the ship; Dr. Bud Chantillas (Terence Stamp) is a former scientist who is now a philosopher; and Chip Pettengill (Simon Baker) is a friendly, enthusiastic young guy who got to go on the trip as a last-minute replacement.

As they approach Mars' surface, a solar flare forces them to hop into the landing pod early. Only Bowman stays onboard the ship, trying to figure out what's wrong and keeping the thing from crashing, which would pretty much ruin their chances of a trip home.

The botched landing-pod excursion critically wounds a crew member and leaves the other four with only a few hours' oxygen in which to find the habitat. They find it, but it's been wrecked, leaving them with nothing. Another crew member dies. (We've now lost the most classy and the least classy, if you're scoring along.) The other three are about to die, what with their oxygen running out, and while it's felt like a couple hours, it's actually been 40 minutes since the movie started, so you know they're not all going to asphyxiate.

Turns out the algae they sent -- which is mysteriously missing, too, along with their food and shelter -- DID produce enough oxygen to breathe. Now the only problem facing the three survivors is how to get back up to the ship, not to mention the questions about what happened to all their stuff, and how there got to be breathable oxygen on Mars.

The main problem with the film, directed by first-timer Antony Hoffman, is that for a long time, the conflicts and obstacles are unclear. The movie's nearly half-over before it settles in on a primary objective and lets its characters go at it.

It doesn't help any that, with the exception of Stamp and Moss, everyone mumbles around as if just going through the motions. You can almost hear the director saying, "OK, let's just get this thing over with," rushing through even the major plot turns without stopping to build a climax. The pace is the same throughout: slow and plodding. The acting is flat and unenthusiastic. The only element of science that makes any sense is when Bowman pounds on someone's chest to bring him out of cardiac arrest.

The special effects are good. There are some lines that are unintentionally funny. Carrie-Anne Moss takes a shower. Beyond that, there's no life out there.

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 07/05/03 20:06:43
[printer] printer-friendly format  

User Comments

3/25/18 morris campbell not bad but nothing special 3 stars
11/27/11 AEB Enjoyable flick. Most character in the computer. :) 3 stars
12/01/08 Shaun Wallner Was'nt all that great! 2 stars
2/09/07 David Pollastrini boring, dull, etc. 1 stars
8/27/06 Darko great style, same theme seen in hundreds of movies. worth watching 4 stars
10/07/05 Carolyn Rathburn it was an ok movie, I love Val Kilmer in almost anything 3 stars
8/18/05 ES hey I didn't hate it, but I'm not going to tell you to rent it either 3 stars
2/20/04 Dr. lecter Only good movie set on Mars is Total Recall 1 stars
8/06/03 P.Rodriguez Showed Promise, but ultimately dissapointing 3 stars
3/20/03 May Q. Horney Best of several Mars flicks released around that time. 4 stars
3/01/03 Matt Thiel "Mission to Mars" had a better story and likable characters. But not THAT much better. 2 stars
3/01/03 y2mckay An unmitigated disaster, and WTF is up with that robot dog? Kilmer a hack as usual 1 stars
1/26/03 Jack Sommersby Has a few good moments and performances, but purpose is lacking. 3 stars
10/15/02 Charles Tatum Good effects, Moss, and still we cannot get the script right 2 stars
8/29/02 Hessian Kilmer and Sizemore work well together in this. Not a bad movie. 4 stars
8/14/02 palaboy101 DEFINITELY better than other "Mars" movies 4 stars
1/29/02 Doug Nothing bad about it, but nothing good either. Just kinda there. 3 stars
1/23/02 Jim Cast of cliches (half of whom are basically cameos) and nonsensical plot, but diverting 3 stars
1/21/02 Spencer Lent Most Mars movies suck. Compared to them this is a masterpiece. 3 stars
10/20/01 Mike I hated the robot! The actors' lines stunk. Bad movie 2 stars
10/10/01 P.Rodriguez Hey. I wasn't THAT bad, just not very good. 4 stars
8/07/01 ted v. forget Mission To Mars, this is definitely the better movie. 5 stars
8/06/01 badfish Great movie,Kilmer is, well,Kilmer 5 stars
7/01/01 Rampage One of the worst movies of 2000. My God, who was in charge here? 1 stars
5/09/01 *~Danielle*Ophelia~* (formerly KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi) And I thought Mission to Mars was bad. Fucking a... 1 stars
5/01/01 The Bomb 69 very average 3 stars
3/31/01 Jesse L Pathetic plot - Val!! First time I haven't liked one of your flicks! 1 stars
2/23/01 INCUBATOR Moss is beautiful but the movie is bullshit. Cut the crap, they couldn`t see atmosphere? Ha 2 stars
2/04/01 Eric Good special effects and decent cast is about it. Watch Mission to Mars instead. 2 stars
12/23/00 Bev Clark A derivative piece of shit. 1 stars
12/20/00 Shogun "I'm a microbiologist, I program in A's G's T's and P's." P's? Good fact checking. christ. 1 stars
12/19/00 Thrillhouse one of the lamest freakin' movies I've seen. Save your money. 2 stars
12/14/00 Mr J M HARWOOD Better than PITCH BLACK & MISSION 2 MARS 4 stars
12/09/00 Johnny the Baddass taxi driver It is totally crap. Not worth the 2.50 or 7.50 that you pay to see it. 1 stars
12/08/00 Boy In The Designer Bubble Hey let's send everyone involved with this shit to Mars right now. 1 stars
12/03/00 Destruction Worker At least it's not a mindless sfx fest. 5 stars
11/28/00 pipeman The worst fucking movie ever made. Avoid it at all costs. Ack. Ptui. 1 stars
11/18/00 Edward A Leonard What can I say, even Mission to Mars was better, and that sucked ass! 1 stars
11/14/00 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi I could've had a V-8. 1 stars
11/13/00 poetchuck How fortunate that a high voltage source appears just when needed--not at all believable 2 stars
11/13/00 Zaw We should goto Pluto Next time.. Blue Planet. Just another crappy movie. 1 stars
11/13/00 Stuntman Survivor meets Total Recall 3 stars
11/13/00 Greyjack No, it's not great; it's not horrid either. Interesting premise rendered kinda boring. 3 stars
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:

Discuss this movie in our forum

  10-Nov-2000 (PG-13)
  DVD: 27-Mar-2001


  07-Dec-2000 (M)

Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast