Volume 94, Issue 45

Friday, November 17, 2000


Sexsmith not just a folkie

Red Planet ugly from here

Good old Planet Smashing fun

Red Planet ugly from here

Gazette File Photo

Red Planet
Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss
Directed By: Antony Hoffman

By Jenny Benincasa
Gazette Staff

Movies about Mars continue hitting theatres, but fail to impress or improve. Sadly, Red Planet is no better. Imagine a movie about the first manned mission to Mars – you guessed it, it's been done before and Red Planet does it again.

It's the year 2057 and the Earth's atmosphere is being destroyed by pollution. Preparation has been made to secure a new home for humanity – Mars. The planet's surface is supplanted with algae-producing seeds in order to create oxygen for the survival of human inhabitants. Unfortunately, the oxygen level has dropped and Commander Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss) and her crew travel to Mars to uncover the problem.

Expectedly, the crew experiences obstacles during their trip, including a solar flare that makes landing difficult. There are also a series of standard mishaps, like a damaged ship and a brave Commander who stays behind to repair it.

While on Mars, crew member Gallagher (Val Kilmer) discovers that an abundant supply of oxygen exists. At this point, the goal of the mission becomes clear. The movie employs the use of scientific jargon throughout as an attempt to explain this and other mysteries, yet these explanations are often unclear.

The only original part of the plot is that a woman plays the role of commander, a role usually reserved for a brawny male actor. Commander Bowman repairs the ship and guides the crew on site single-handedly.

Sadly, aside from this unconventional role-play, the cast as a whole brings nothing to the film. No effort is made to fully develop the characters, so they lack substance and fail to form meaningful connections.

Despite its numerous misgivings, Red Planet looks good. The film's cinematography is superb, with an authentic, grand simulation of Mars. The movie provides an excellent, up-close view of Mars' famous red and rocky surface. The film even seems to take on a red tinge in scenes where the crew is on Mars. This cinematic excellence is the only aspect powerful enough to draw you in.

Red Planet also spares no expense in incorporating a slew of impressive gadgets that add to the outstanding look and feel of the film. The most impressive are the crew ship and the robot navigator, each equipped with positive and negative human traits.

Beneath the redundant plot and the dense scientific jargon exists an underlying question that asks which is better: science or the philosophy of God's existence. This theme is the only meaningful one, but remains unresolved.

While Red Planet seems to boast about all-powerful science, it alludes strongly to the failure of science, too. In the end, Red Planet leaves the audience with three thoughts: science is good/bad; wow, what amazing special effects; or why did I see this movie?

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