(out of 5)
Humdrum space adventure that makes the other Mars movie of its year, Mission To Mars, seem like Shakespeare. Val Kilmer leads an impressive but wasted cast as a member of a group of cosmonauts in the year 2057, who embark on a mission to the red planet to find out what happened to an atmospheric reorganizing project initiated by terraformers twenty years prior. A few of the usual pitfalls ensue: power failures, lack of natural resources and everything getting saved in the nick of time before the clock counts to zero, but apart from that, there’s not really all that much that happens. How can you possibly make a multi-million dollar film about five people on Mars and still manage to have them do nothing but sit around? If the characters were being explored in even the most meagre of fashions perhaps the mellowness of it all would be more forgiveable, but as all the actors seem to be posing for the cameras until their agents can get their hands on some better quality scripts, there’s really not much to do except bear it with them. Kilmer does a hackneyed job of his character, at once putting on a ridiculous voice to signify that he’s a high school geek but at the same time building his musculature up (and saying somewhere in the film that he’s not a jock) and spray-painting his hair a Euroclub blonde. A subplot about a robot that goes haywire tries to preach about the dangers of giving moral choices to artificial intelligence, but as the machine is injured in a fall (instead of actually choosing to go bad) this also begins to be more of an excuse to kill time instead of teach anybody a lesson. The filmmakers also commit the dire sin of casting ultracool action babe Carrie-Anne Moss as the commander of the spaceship and then leave her trapped in a room for the entire film.
Warner Bros., Village Roadshow Pictures, NPV Entertainment, The Canton Company, Mars Production Pty. Ltd.
Directed by Antony Hoffman
Cinematography by Peter Suschitzky
Music by Graeme Revell
Production Design by Owen Paterson
Costume Design by Kym Barrett