Val Kilmer (The Saint, Batman Forever) leads the minimal cast of astronauts sent on a high-profile space mission to start colonization on Mars due to problems on Earth. Carrie-Anne Moss (Matrix), Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan), Terence Stamp (Superman 1 & 2), and Benjamin Bratt (TV’s Law & Order) must rely on each other to survive after complications affect their space mission.
Set in the year 2025, this movie begins with the classic shot of a huge spaceship that seems to be a standard beginning to so many sci-fi movies today – initiated by the original sci-fi classic Star Wars. Commander Kate Bowman (Moss) begins and ends the movie with narration and explanations of their unique situation and the results, but doesn’t really have much impact other than providing the audience with some necessary information.
Red Planet has a good plot full of action and decent directing from Antony Hoffman in his feature debut. Hoffman seems to insist on a lot of lighting effects in many of his camera shots even when they don’t really enhance the cinematography. The crisp special effects are well done except for a sequence with Bowman in a space station during a crisis. In this sequence, Bowman’s actions have an awkward flow as she interacts with the turbulent environment.
You may also see visible water spots cover the camera during a scene where a spacecraft is launched. The only problem with the water spots is that the audience may think “oh, that’s right. I’m watching a movie. This isn’t really” instead of being involved with the storyline. Sci-fi action movies have become such a common genre that moviemakers have incredible pressures to give audiences something new. Still, that begins with the story which lacks a bit in this visual endeavor.
The story concentrates on special effects and situational drama to prime the audience for an emotional experience. A predictable story and the lack luster impact of the antagonists and the main protagonist, Gallagher (Kilmer), yields an average story that means well, but just doesn’t provide much emotion for its audience. Bowman even makes an awkward point to summarize her misguided perception of one of the main characters as if to say “hey, look what this character did” to the audience.
Previews for this movie uncovered some elements that could’ve surprised the audience more, but still entertains audiences on an average level. This movie is a mixed bag of sci-fi action, drama, and thrills and provides average PG-13 entertainment (** out of four stars). Don’t really understand why this movie did so poorly in the theaters because it’s not terrible.
Copyright © Michael Siebenaler