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Red Planet (2000)

Not a sound. Not a warning. Not a chance. Not alone.

Starring:

Benjamin BrattBenjamin Bratt

Bob Neill

Caroline Bossi

Carrie-Ann Moss

Jessica Morton

Simon Baker

Terence Stamp

Tom Sizemore

Val Kilmer

Directed by:

Anthony Hoffman

Rating: 3/10

Running Time: 106 minutes

UK Certificate: 15

On DVD

Country: United States

It’s the year 2050, and Planet Earth has officially gone boobs-up. We’ve used up our natural resources, the pollution level in the atmos has reached saturation point, and the BBC has misplaced all of its old copies of ‘Dad’s Army’, leaving us with massive irreparable holes in the TV schedules. Looks like us humans are in deep soapy bubble – unless, that is, a plan to make Mars inhabitable by planting algae on its surface (thereby creating oxygen, you see?) works for the better.

That much we know within the first 5 minutes of ‘Red Planet’, thanks to an early bit of voice-over work from Carrie-Ann Moss. This astoundingly lazy technique on the part of the writers also allows us an early insight into the main character traits of our key players – the crew of 6 sent up to Mars to find out why all the algae’s disappeared. Among the qualities we’re permitted to discover for ourselves are that Commander Kate Bowman (Moss) likes wearing very little, Dr Bud Chantilas (Terence Stamp) has a tendency for making shocking statements (eg ‘my spleen’s ruptured’) in a completely mundane matter-of-fact fashion, and ‘space janitor’ Robby Gallagher (Val Kilmer) seems to be made entirely of wood. If there IS life on Mars, it’s certainly not being provided by Kilmer.

Once on Mars, the gang find themselves stalked by a military-trained robot, top of the menu for a swarm of space insects and, worst of all, severely pushed for time. Who’d have thought all of that could be so dull? Just 40 minutes in we’re provided with flashbacks to what’s been said earlier, presumably under the correct assumption that it’s all too boring for us to remember voluntarily.

Amid all of the visual eye candy and impressive FX, there’s absolutely nothing for the viewer to think about. Director Anthony Hoffman manages to inject not one iota of tension into the proceedings, and you’ll be able to guess in what order the characters are scheduled to snuff it. A more tedious, uninspiring and totally non-eventful piece of modern day sci-fi you’ll struggle to find.

It's Got: Inappropriately-placed background music.

It Needs: To reward the viewer’s ability to stay awake with even the slightest burst of excitement.

DVD Extras 15 minutes-worth of deleted scenes. There are 106 more minutes on this disc that probably should have been deleted as well. DVD Extras Rating: 2/10

Alternatives:

Armageddon, Lost in Space, Mission to Mars, The Core

Summary

Humourless, predictable and wholly unentertaining. If it’s a trip to Mars you’re after, rent ‘Total Recall’ instead. At least that’s got Arnie in it.

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