Monday, 19 October 2015

MOVIE MONDAY - THE LAST DAYS ON MARS

“Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.” - Ray Bradbury

I like watching science fiction movies. No, let me qualify that. I like watching science fiction movies, provided they are intelligent, mind-challenging, do not contravene blatantly laws of nature and they are capable of making you think that what is impossible today may well be possible tomorrow (thank you, Mr Bradbury). “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury is an excellent science fiction novel that was made into an excellent film. That is the sort of Science Fiction I like.

Unfortunately, the film we watched last weekend was a science fiction film that we did no particularly like. It was more of a horror film dressed in astronaut costumes. As such it pandered to the teen market and was not a satisfying movie for a thinking, critical viewer. It was Ruairi Robinson’s 2013 film “The Last Days on Mars” based on a short story by Sydney J. Bounds and a screenplay by Clive Dawson. It starred Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai and Olivia Williams.

The plot is set on Mars, where the first human Mars base has been established in the non so distant future. On the last day of that first manned mission to Mars, a crew member of Tantalus Base believes he has made an astounding discovery: Fossilised evidence of bacterial life discovered in a rock sample he has collected. Unwilling to let the relief crew claim all the glory, he disobeys orders to pack up and goes out on an unauthorised expedition to collect further samples. But a routine excavation turns to disaster when the porous ground collapses and he falls into a deep crevice and near certain death. His devastated colleagues attempt to recover his body. However, when another vanishes, they start to suspect that the life-form they have discovered is not without danger…

And so starts a misadventure, which in typical horror movie fashion pulls all the right strings for thrills and spills. Mars is a bit of a furphy, as the story could have as easily been set in deep underground cavern, or the South Pole, or the Jungle of the Amazon (hmmm, I think similar films have in fact been made in all of those locations!). The film is quite unoriginal and it’s a bit of a mystery as to how it got made, given that it trod such familiar ground.

The beginning of the film had some good potential. The acting was OK, the sets and costumes fine, the cinematography captivating, some good characters that began to develop well. However, it soon slips and slides downhill where the inconceivable becomes impossible and ludicrous. OK, I won’t spoil it for you if you want to watch it, except to say that it is more in the fantasy/horror genre rather than the science fiction genre. Watch at your peril. It’s B-grade matinée material…

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