What the heck is the big deal about Mars?
Why is every movie about Mars? Ever since NASA’s probe reached Mars back in 2000, there have been a lot of movies about Mars. I guess cinema has been obsessed with Mars since the Jules Verne days, but it really took off in the crappy Y2K days, when about a dozen crap-tacular movies released in a series of a few years. When scientists think they’ve discovered remnants of water on Mars, it was time for Val Kilmer to make a movie. Yay?
10. War of the Worlds – This is the original Mars Attacks movie, and it’s really just a sensationalized fear of invasion, like every other 1950s movie. Still, it’s a pretty good movie, and has good performances. The original War of the Worlds movie in 1953 is way better than the Tom Cruise piece of crap from 2005, even though they’re pretty much the same film. Although, they aren’t the same, when you think about it. The 2005 piece of crap is littered with CGI, stupid characters, and dumb dialogue from the dumb family Tom Cruise tries to protect.
9. Red Planet (2000) – This movie and TONS of others follow the same basic premise, where some astronauts or explorers are stranded on Mars after something goes horribly wrong. Even The Martian (2015) follows the same plot. The same thing happens on Mission to Mars, when a bunch of people are killed. In Red Planet, Val Kilmer tries to act. He doesn’t succeed.
8. John Carter (2012) – I will admit that this movie has an original story, at the very least. It’s based on a book, like War of the Worlds was. However, that doesn’t make it any good. It just means they have to squeeze more details and more themes into two hours, which is never a good idea. The whole thing feels rushed and glosses over everything. I could have sworn this thing was directed by George Lucas, given how much CGI is in it.
7. Mars Attacks! (2012) – I used to really, really hate this movie, which tries to be a dark comedy with stupid CGI aliens. It really oversells almost everything, including the comedy. It’s over-the-top in almost every way, which makes sense because it’s a spoof, but the comedy is so low-brow that I get embarrassed watching it. It doesn’t help that the Martians are not characters, and merely used for dumb gags.
6. Doom (2005) – So there are plenty of ‘stranded on Mars’ movies and ‘attack of the Martians’ movies, but what about this one? The Rock leads a group of military jerks to Mars to rescue some other jerks, so I guess that’s sorta like a ‘stranded on Mars’ movie, but it doesn’t have much else to offer. The story is simple, but doesn’t go anywhere. A bunch of action scenes happen which are hard to follow, then it’s over. Nothing really happens.
5. Ghosts of Mars (2001) – This is another Y2K Mars movie, but this time by John Carpenter. Yeah, the master of horror guy. He makes a crappy movie. Yeah, I was surprised too. It has lots of things from other Carpenter movies, but done a lot crappier. There’s a disembodied evil presence, like in The Fog. There’s an indestructible bad guy, like in Halloween. There’s a no-nonsense good guy, like in Escape from New York. And on and on.
4. My Favorite Martian (1999) – This is a Christopher Lloyd comedy based on the TV series. Seriously, there was a sitcom called My Favorite Martian in the 60s, which ran for 100 episodes. It was pretty popular, but got old fast, or so I’m told. I won’t pretend to know much about the TV show but I have heard of it before and the movie tries to capture what was successful in the show, but it flopped at the box office bigtime. It’s a loud, annoying movie.
3. Species and Species II – These two crappy movies are about an alien invasion. A single, hot female alien, that is. It’s basically a Natasha Henstridge exploitation film, and not a good one. The movies follow a mysterious species that attacks humans, and the second movie basically lays this plotline out verbatim, except on Mars. They blow Natasha’s head off with a grenade launcher, that’s how exploitation this is.
2. Total Recall (1990) – One of the few good movies on this list, this Schwarzenegger movie is close to a spoof like Mars Attacks, but not quite there. The good thing is that its somewhat satirical and speaks about race relations and other themes. The campiness is a little heavy though, but I don’t care because it’s Schwarzenegger sci-fi. It’s supposed to be over-the-top, isn’t it?
- The Martian (2015) – Only the original 1953 War of the Worlds is a better Mars movie than The Martian. The Martian itself is a decent movie and Matt Damon does a good job. Sure, it’s about one guy, but that’s okay. I’m just surprised Damon is in something besides an action movie. Maybe the fifth Bourne movie will have Bourne fighting Martians.