With last spring’s “Mission to Mars” opening so strongly, Warner Bros decided to push back “Red Planet” so they wouldn’t feel the “Mission” tidal wave. As I entered the theatre to see Planet I thought back to “Mission” and hoped that it wouldn’t be the same kind of thing. I was shocked, delighted and a tad bit disappointed but Planet was still a better ride than “Mission” ever was.
“Red Planet” stars Val Kilmer, Carrie Anne Moss and Tom Sizemore as three astronauts on a terra-forming mission to Mars in the near future. Kilmer plays Gallagher, an eccentric mission engineer who has designed a robot to help navigate the Martian surface.
The robot’s name is AMEE. Moss plays the mission commander who has had a long career in the Navy and loves to hang with the guys. Sizemore plays a geneticist who knows a lot about the science side of the mission including the algae sent onto Mars’ surface.
Upon arriving around Mars, the astronauts are thrown into jeopardy and Moss commands her crew to abandon ship. As she watches her crew escape she decides to stay behind in a last desperate effort to save her ship. Will the captain repair the ship in time? What will the astronauts find on the Martian surface?
“Red Planet” has a fast beginning and allows the viewer to spend a lot of time on the Martian surface. Planet is very raw. Like Apollo 13, we have a lot of desperation in trying to find a little piece of something that could help to save the mission. I liked this tension and the appearance of no safety net as the astronauts fight to survive. I loved the unique robot created by Kilmer and how it becomes a threat on the planet.
The real sad thing I found about Planet was how they used a lot of hokey ways to get out of tension sequences. One example was when the crew can’t communicate with their ship so they decide to walk over and find a probe sent to Mars back in 1997. (Can anyone say Pathfinder?) They rip apart Pathfinder grab on of the internal boards and two wires and call for help.
For me that seemed to be pulled off the same way as the Professor made inventions from two coconuts in the TV series “Gilligan’s Island”. There are at least six more of these hokey circumstances. Write me if you can name them.
Over all I enjoyed Planet for its raw and original take on Mars but I just wished there was a little more ingenuity thrown in to some of the mission parameters.
(3.5 out of 5)
So Says the Soothsayer.