Film (2000). Warner Brothers Pictures presents in association with Village Roadshow Pictures and NPV Entertainment a Mark Canton Production. Directed by Antony Hoffman. Written by Chuck Pfarrer, Jonathan Lemkin. Cast includes Simon Baker, Benjamin Bratt, Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore and Terence Stamp. 106 minutes. Colour.
Six astronauts are sent to Mars to examine why Terraforming efforts are mysteriously failing. A solar flare causes the mission to go awry, and the five men are stranded on the Martian surface, while their commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss) orbits helplessly above. Stalked by their defective military robot AMEE, and endangered by the algae-eating insects that caused the initial terraforming problems; the astronauts search for a way to return to their ship and get home.
After a languorous opening, Red Planet starts to lurch from one crisis to another like an old movie serial. The film eschews the usual intelligent Aliens for a tale of man's struggle against nature and his own Technology; making it a less commercial film than Mission to Mars (2000), released only a few months earlier.
Red Planet clearly aspires to the dramatic weight of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but its unsubtle references to that film do little but emphasize Red Planet's own problems. The movie's claims to realism are undercut by the script's obvious Scientific Errors and its ever more contrived races against time, although the sweeping desert panoramas (shot in Jordan and Australia) add a sense of grandeur to the events. The novelization is Red Planet (2000) by Peter Telep. [JN]
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