Movie Review of
“Mission to Mars”, directed by Brian de Palma, supposes that the first manned mission to Mars met with a catastrophe. The original commander Luke Graham (Don Cheadle) was injured in a catastrophe involving a domelike mountain and beacon that I might consider like my own “Tower of Ned” in one of my own screenplays. Luke is injured. The rescue mission is led by Jim McConnell (Gary Sinese), recently made a widower. Luke is still hanging on, rather like the professor in “Forbidden Planet”, and together they face the dilemma of entering the structure. Eventually they do, meeting a “feminine” alien who explains that we are all Martians, that Earth’s like actually came from Mars. This is very unlikely. Earth is in the middle of the “Goldilox Zone, Mars is on the fringe. Mars lost its magnetic field billions of years ago and therefore most of its atmosphere.
I have to provide some comparison to Warner Brothers’
offering, Red Planet, with Val Kilmer. Well, the arthropod robot Amy is
not exactly Robby the Robot—she does provide a pretty good example of
artificial intelligence (a Spielberg film for next year) gone wrong, maybe
because of unsafe, deprecated Java methods and thread deaths. And the story is
not exactly based on Shakespeare’s The Tempest (as was the 1956
The living quarters on the spaceship are too close for Democrat ex-Senator Sam Nunn, all right (even for opposite genders living together in military-like settings) but, whatever the PG-13 heterosexuality, there’s very little flesh until Val Kilmer’s chest gets CPR and he is brought back to life by the inevitable fiancé.
Also – we wait for the big post-Clinton announcement about the Face on Mars.
There is also John Carpenter’s 1998 film Ghosts of Mars from Sony Screen Gems. The story is
silly, about Martian spores getting reactivated and taking over the bodies of
humans and possessing them. Or maybe that makes sense, like “Invasion of the
Body Snatches” or even the identity swapping in David Lynch’s Lost Highway. But the best thing in this film is the
interesting mining and passenger train. Great visuals, but one wonders how you
would build a thousand-mile long railroad even on a terraformed
Mars. Some good visuals of the enclosed city, too, but the problem here is that
the details of what this new world really is like get too sketchy in a film
like this. (I’d like to see Olympus Mons.) The whole civilization becomes like
one big model railroad. Maybe this extraterrestrial train ride is a great idea
for a Disney theme park attraction or even a
Forbidden Planet (1954,
The Angry Red Planet (1960. American International, dir. Ib Melchior, story Sidney Pink) has a space ship returning from Mars with two survivors, one with a growth on his arm. He tells the story of their visit under hypnosis. Thought to be desert, Mars seems to be an exotic place when they land. It takes a while for the dangers to build up, but eventually there is a Cyclops, a mysterious city, carnivorous plants, and various monsters. This was a popular choice on the Saturday Night “Chiller.”
Mars Attacks! (1996, Warner Bros., dir. Tim Burton, 106 min, PG-13) is a delicious satire about an alien invasion, first offering peace but then bent on destroying our self-serving civilized immorality, and the people who try to make a profit from it, almost John Sayles style. Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnon, Annette Benning, Glenn Rose, Michael J Fox, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Natalie Portman, Danny Devito, Pam Grier, Rod Steiger and Tom Jones all star. There is a climactic scene where the green bug-eyed aliens attack Congress and gun the members down openly.
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