Old 10-27-2008, 07:51 PM
Red Planet (2000)

Directed by Antony Hoffman

Written by Chuck Pfarrer

Tagline: They Didn't Find Life On Mars. It Found Them.

Synopsis: Houston, we have a very big problem! In the mid-21st century, the nations of a dying Earth look starward for a solution and set out to colonize Mars. But something no one could have expected awaits this latest mission to the Red Planet. Because Mars may be barren but it's not uninhabited. --amazon.com

Starring: Carrie-Anne Moss, Val Kilmer, Terence Stamp, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker, and Benjamin Bratt.

Despite what the tagline may lead you to believe, this is no "survival-horror" film- though it does have its moments of intensity. Red Planet attempts to be so much more than the standard Hollywood popcorn film or the typical B-movie cheesfest. The writer, Pfarrer, and director, Anthony Hoffman, attempt to take a standard sci-fi movie set up (a suicide mission to an undiscovered world) and present it in a realistic light. Whether that makes for good entertainment is entirely subjective and completely up to you, as the stigma around this film has proven.

However, I'm here to give my word on the film, and mine is positive. The special effects aren't in-your-face "look at what can do" tactics played in films such as Armageddon, this is a much more subdued and subtle film. There are a few exceptions to this (part of the plot involves a hostile, rogue robot), but the movie is for the most part very sober. I also have to say I love the cast: Kilmer is perfectly cast and the presence of Sizemore, Terence, and Moss is pleasant. The film is also rather well directed.

So where's the bad come from? The tone. The film's pace. To many, this is simply a boring film. I can understand that since I nearly dosed off once or twice. After all, this is a very human story (almost philosophic) and those seeking a completely surreal story will be sorely disappointed. Also, when it comes right down to it, Red Planet has been done before and done better. Movies like Solaris (both versions) raised many more questions and executed its message more powerfully. This is where Red Planet differs; however, is its underlying theme.

Red Planet is a story of humanity's faith in itself and its ability to transcend beyond what cannot be understood. Towards the films closure, some might even consider this theme "force-fed." All of the characters in the film are among the "best of the best" and top in their fields, yet all of them fail in one form or the other. Also, the film treads upon the idea of "science vs. faith", which is interesting but never fully flushed out into anything more than a bare-bones statement.

In conclusion, Red Planet is an underrated film that seems to have become forgotten. At the same time, it isn't necessarily anything spectacular or special. However, if this sounds like something you can invest in, I'd recommend you seek it out and make up your own mind.

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