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Movie Review

Red Planet

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for sci-fi violence, brief nudity and language

Reviewed by: Brett Willis

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens Adults
1 hr. 50 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
Relevant Issues
Val Kilmer in “Red Planet”

Are we alone, or is there life elsewhere in the universe?

Does ET really exist? A study of the alleged “Martian” meteorite

Featuring: Val Kilmer, Benjamin Bratt, Carrie-Anne Moss, Simon Baker, Tom Sizemore
Director: Antony Hoffman
Producer: Bruce Berman, Jorge Saralegui, Mark Canton
Distributor: Warner Brothers

Though it’s a totally different storyline, “Red Planet” looks and feels like the earlier 2000 release “Mission to Mars”. The tinting of the Martian surface and sky is the same; and there’s crew conflict, violence, death, and a Martian Creature. (How many Mars Sci-Fi films DON’T have a Creature?) The science (or lack thereof) and the presentation of Politically Correct ideas are similar.

Tom Sizemore in “Red Planet” The year is 2057. Earth is dying from human overpopulation and pollution, and we’ve been “terraforming” Mars for about thirty years. We nuked the Martian icecaps to release Carbon Dioxide and create a Greenhouse Effect; then we introduced algae to generate oxygen for eventual human migration. Everything went smoothly, until the algae suddenly disappeared! So the first manned Mars flight is sent to investigate. Commander Bowman’s (Carrie-Anne Moss) crew consists of science officer Chantilas (Terence Stamp); pilot Santen (Benjamin Bratt); geneticist/bioengineer Burchenal (Tom Sizemore); terraformer Pettengil (Simon Baker) and mechanical engineer Gallagher (Val Kilmer); plus a karate-chopping, doglike robot called AMEE. Bowman refers to scientist-turned-philosopher Chantilas, who initiates discussions about God, as the “soul of the crew.”

Danger comes from several sources: a solar flare; equipment failures; infighting among the crew; cross-wired AMEE going into “military mode” against them; and of course the Creature. The Creature’s origin isn’t explained. Did it “evolve” overnight? Did it lie dormant for millions of years, just waiting for the return of food and oxygen?

Considering the story—these are the first humans to set foot on Mars, and their mission’s success determines the future of mankind—the acting and direction seem flat and unemotional. The most interesting character, Chantilas, is underdeveloped. Just once, I’d like to see a scientifically accurate film—a lifeless Mars instead of a lifeless crew.

Content: There’s quite a bit of profanity, including one use of f* accompanied by “the bird.” We get side-view glimpses of Bowman as she showers, and Gallagher gets a full frontal view (the two of them carry on a shipboard flirtation, but nothing comes of it during the film). There’s alcohol use, fighting, and bad attitudes. Several crewmembers are killed off.

Bad science (partial list): Even with the atmosphere buildup, the Martian day and night surface temperatures should be harsher than shown. The scene of the ship crash-landing could have been run in slo-mo to simulate Mars gravity (one-third that of Earth), but it wasn’t; nor was there any extra spring in the crew’s step. The only special effect showing low-grav was a shot of three men making the highest and longest arcs of their lives as they urinated. There’s one Martian surface shot, a few seconds long, which shows Earth’s moon in the sky (the image is too large, and too regular in shape, to pass for Phobos).

Genesis 1:28, God’s first recorded command to mankind, tells us to multiply and fill the Earth, subdue (alter) it, and rule over all other creatures. Radical environmentalism challenges every part of that commandment. The idea of “terraforming” is a strange combination of sentiments from both camps; after messing up the Earth, we proceed to subdue another planet as well.

I’ve been going to Mars movies since 1959. This isn’t the worst I’ve seen, but not the best either. Besides the expected Humanist content, the film just isn’t a “grabber.” Well, maybe next year.

Viewer Comments
You can generally tell the rest of the film is going to be a bit of a downhill slide when they have to introduce the characters to you through a narrative in the beginning. Not giving the characters time, or means to develop on their own is only one of the few details that made up this terrible attempt at an action film. Following the stereotypical formulas and techniques that are used to string audiences along. The movie basically questions the intelligence of its viewers. Entirely predictable. Good actors, and Fantastic special effects, Terrible plot and planning. A waste of money across the board. For the film makers as well as the viewers. If looking for a new and exciting movie that will keep you interest, then please do not see this film. My friend fell asleep during the movie, which he had never done before… My Ratings: [Average / 1½]
—Sarah, age 17
Human overpopulation is a mythical scare tactic used to promote Eco-Hysteria. The myth promotes abortion and homosexual coupling. Here’s a neat little math problem, take the world population and divide it into the square footage of the state of Texas. you will find that EVERYONE will fit, with some elbow room. Now look at Texas on the world map, it’s not that big. Cities and certain regions are overpopulated, not the world. God will not allow us to destroy it either. God is in control, not mankind. For us to think otherwise is prideful sin. My Ratings: [3/3]
—Matthew Perkins, age 24
I think that the idea of terraforming is rather amazing, yet also I think that humanity should never do it due to the fact that we are sinful and unperfect and that is what Mars would become. It isn’t a perfect planet, but it is devoid of human life and that is they way it probably will always be. Still the idea of turning a lifeless planet into a lifegiving planet is amazing. What’s next for science to discover? Warp Drive perhaps? Maybe, they understand the basic physics needed, but where would the energy come from? My Ratings: [4½/3]
—Rob Spurlock, age 17
Please! This movie was a bomb. The storyline was so dumb. It was also very depressing. It’s just a bunch of egotistic guys trying to make it out alive on a super red planet. It was a waste of five dollars. I’m really disapointed that such an actor as Val Kilmer would act in this stinker. I’ve seen him do a lot better. For you Christians out there, save your money! Go see a real good PG, like Remember The Titans. There’s a great movie. Also, stop by the video store and rent the recently released FREQUENCY, PG-13. Slight language, but a great storyline that will leave you wondering what’s going to happen next. My Ratings: [3/1]
—Simone, age 16
I made a couple of mistakes with this one. Mistake number one? I believed a science fiction film couldn’t have any slime in it? An unnecessary shower scene near the beginning pretty much ruined it for my wife and I. It was disgusting. (My wife told me, I didn’t watch, pat me on the back.) The movie had the usual profanity, but the shower and scantily dressed commander makes a Christian uncomfortable. At least it should. If not for that, the film was OK. George Lucas need not worry about this picture being a greater force in this genre than his science fiction adventures, but it did feel realistic. You felt like you were on Mars. The plot was average, and so were the lines. The mechanical robot was silly. There was a brief encounter with one of the astronauts expressing a search for God, but unless you like Disneys Space Mountain, or have wondered what Mars is like, as a christian, because of the skin, you might want to pass. Oh yah, what was my second important mistake, not enough butter on the popcorn. Once again, review and listen before going to any Hollywood film. My Ratings: [2/2]
—Barry Lee, age 39
Movie Critics
…discussions among the astronaut-scientists about the existence of God. One even confesses to be diligently searching for God…
—Preview Family Movie and TV Review
…brief nudity and some unproven environmentalist notions…
—Dr. Ted Baehr, Movieguide
…One F-word, accompanied by a raised middle finger… and a couple of religious profanities…
…the crew engages in group urination…
—Susan Wloszczyna, USA Today