Red Planet
Review by Ross Anthony

It's big, it's round, it's red ... Mars. It's big, it's exciting, it's got thunderous seat-shaking bass, a frisky dangerous robot, some dazzling special effects and a script freakishly devoid of life ... "Red Planet."

But then there's Kilmer. He's wonderful, "I really hate this planet." And the rest of the crew working overtime to make this arid, barren screenplay livable for humans.

The year 2050, the Earth has been poisoned, polluted and populated nearly to death. In Red Planethopes of carving a new home, Earthlings have been sending algae to Mars for twenty-five years in order to build up an O2 atmosphere there. A good idea, however, something's wrong ... all the O2 has disappeared. "Red Planet" details the exploits of the first manned spacecraft sent to Mars. The mission - find out what's going on up there.

Actually, If you like science and astronomy, you might find that premise pretty tantalizing - that and all the cool tech stuff like the fully active computer maps. However, apparently, the filmmakers were quite aware of the mysteriously missing human drama in the script; that's why they injected several attempts to simulate emotion. And simulated emotion they achieved. No one will be fooled. Amee, the cyberdog, is a fantastic cg accomplishment. She's detailed and complex in movement and design. You'll love her! But she's such an obviously contrived antagonist, that it's not easy to take her seriously, except as something way cool to watch.

The other bone thrown grows from a blow atop a stone. I had to groan. This is the scene in which one member gets mad and pops the other member in the helmet sending him plummeting down a hill. Such an event has great potential for drama, but the anger is so isolated and pointless that instead of a swell of emotion, the viewer is left confused and insulted. An earlier scene establishing the attacker as a hothead would have really helped. Or an argument in the capsule over just how to handle the landing maneuvers would have backed the bite needed to support a skirmish. As is, it's just a quick fix to accomplish a story progression. That goes for Amee as well. Why that dog didn't chew everyone to bits ... I'll never know.

Anyway, though not very deep in deep space, I thought "Red Planet" was pretty good fun. And while the dialogue offers little to jettison home over; the very likable cast still manages to spout a few zingers to give the crowd a chuckle or two. Oh, and I loved the little astronaut icon on the Russian computer.

  • Red Planet. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore, Benjamin Bratt, Simon Baker, Terrance Stamp.
  • Directed by Antony Hoffman.
  • Written by Chuck Pfarrer, Jonathan Lemkin.
  • Produced by Mark Canton, Bruce Berman, Jorge Saralegui.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

chili4 special olympians
power5 ra hforh radiop

Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:55:28 PDT