78 of 79 people found the following review helpful
on May 9, 2008
Red Planet has flaws (many of the plot twists are fairly predictable, some of the science is screwy), but overall is a pretty good value pick. Kilmer's wise-cracking "space janitor" is a character we can care about, Sizemore provides good counterpoint, and Moss is an eyeful. The problem-solving aspects of the plot lift it above the morass of most sci-fi; the characters actually use math and old Mars probes to try and save themselves, and ANY movie that features realistic, scientific approaches to solving problems is OK in my book. I teach science in a public high school, and actually use some clips from the movie to illustrate problem solving. This is not high-art science fiction, but neither is it campy or schlocky; Red Planet has some intelligence and wit, which makes it pretty good in my book.
36 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2004
1) Carrie-Anne Moss is great at tomboy-type action roles like this one and shines here.
2) They waste little time on unneeded character development and get right into the action.
3) The recreation of Mars' surface was realistic and spooky.
4) The bouncing ball landing craft scene was hilarious.
5) The overall Mars pre-colonization mission (and what they eventually discover with an algae experiment) is imaginative.
6) A high-tech robot runs amok and starts killing. I always love that (ha).
1) The narrative exposition and dialogue is often VERY dorky.
2) The special features included only deleted scenes.
The going price is fair. If you're a science fiction and/or space TV series fan - get it. It has a high rewatch value.
52 of 57 people found the following review helpful
15 years from now, people are going to pick up this movie and wonder why so many people thought it was bad--there's actually very little wrong with it: memorable performances from Sizemore, Stamp and Kilmer, better science than the average Hollywood flick, a nifty mystery, a logical triumph of man over machine (aren't we all a little tired of omnipotent, indestructible robots?), and crisp suspense as the astronauts race the clock to escape the tightening noose of a mission gone awry.
It was promoted as a SF/Horror flick similar to ALIEN, and it really isn't--it's more like Alfred Hitchcock directing THE RIGHT STUFF.
All the SF movie fans I know tend to like byzantine tales, historic in scope, filled with quirky characters roaming rich new landscapes, so this simple tale of a small group of men trying to escape a desolate red planet within a short span of hours might not be rich enough for them. (The SF fanboys won't like it because Carrie-Anne Moss's shower scene is too short and doesn't show enough...er...Moss.)
It's definitely worth a rental, but you won't want to own it unless you're a suspense fan that revels more in how a film is put together than in how it turns out.
35 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2001
Out of the three space-related films of the year 2000, "Red Planet" is definitely the best. The movie towers over the slow-moving "Mission to Mars" with a nicely-paced sequence of events, and takes a front seat to "Pitch Black" by not going too much into violence and gore. The characters are intelligent and likeable, and the plot develops itself to cover all of its bases once the final moments settle in. I had to remain skeptical in watching this, due to the flack it received from numerous other critics, yet I found myself enjoying the movie immensely.
The movie begins with the narration of Commander Kate Bowman, as she describes how, after fifty years, the earth is running out of resources, and becoming increasingly uninhabitable. This is the reason for their mission: the first manned space mission to Mars in order to determine whether or not human life could exist on such a planet. This is a nice setup, far more intellectual and interesting that the setup for "Mission to Mars." Unlike that film, there is an actual stated reason for this mission, and the astronauts actually have a purpose in going instead of just going there to observe.
The characters are introduced to us at this time, giving us a chance to warm up to them before throwing them into the expected mayhem to come. Commander Bowman is highly intellectual and fervent in giving orders, and expects nothing but the best from her ship and her crew. The crew consists of Robby Gallagher, a maintenance operator, Dr. Quinn Berchenal, Ted Santen, Chip Pettengill, and Dr. Bud Chantilles. The crew and commander get along well for the most part, with some minor tension between certain characters as well as developing love interests among Gallagher and Bowman.
In the first attempt to attain an orbit around the planet, a solar flare disables the spacecraft, and everyone is able to land on the Red Planet but Bowman, who must stay behind and revive the spacecraft. Their landing on Mars proves to be quite eventful, and as the group begins to make their way across the landscape, they make some interesting discoveries: there is oxygen within the atmosphere, which allows them to breathe without their helmets. A machine which was designed to move about in places they cannot goes berserk, threatening their lives. And there is the constant feeling that they are not alone on the planet, that something else is inhabiting the very terrains they are searching.
The only real reason that this material works is that there is an explanation for each and every one of the above-mentioned events that never gets too out-of-hand or confusing. The available oxygen is there because of algae-carrying pods sent to the planet many years ago from Earth in order to create life-giving plants and organisms, which would also provide an explanation for the presence of life forms on the planet as well. There is an actual reason for their mission, as stated above. The malfunctions of the spacecraft that are caused by the solar flare also have a purpose in the film, and are explained by the conversations between Bowman and her computer, which seems to have a mind of its own.
The movie is a techie's paradise: all sorts of little gadgets and machines bring a futuristic sense to the story. The robot Amee is one such example: it can be controlled by humans, but once it develops a mind of its own, it is virtually unstoppable. This is a nice testament to machine-building getting out of hand, as we are creating machines smarter than the human race everyday. I especially liked the tie-back to our present day with the modem/radio that is used to establish contact between the Mars survivors and the spacecraft, providing me with a hearty chuckle while keeping the story moving.
Story movement goes at a steady pace, never getting too slow and agonizing or too fast and incomprehendable. The story may be viewed as simplistic by some, but it ccertainly never reaches the juvenile likings of "Mission to Mars." This story is much more intelligent, and through its dialogue and plot execution, it shows us that it's aware of this factor. It never dives into too much violence or gore, either. The life forms that inhabit Mars are dangerous, but it never gets to the point where we must turn away. The special effects are spectacular, vividly creating an almost dream-like place where fantasy and reality are undiscernable. Mars, yes, is a red planet, but it is during the night that this planet reveals its breathtaking vistas and algae-covered landscapes. Scenes in space are convincing and well rendered. Sound design is extremely bass-heavy, adding to the presence of the spacecraft while also creating a sense of unease with its chords of music.
Casting is uniquely done as well, with a group of actors that seem out of place with one another. Carrie-Anne Moss is Commander Bowman, with Val Kilmer as Robby Gallagher. Their chemistry never really has a chance to get off the ground, but while it's in take-off stage, it's believable and well-acted. Moss is especially convincing in seriousness as a captain of a ship. Benjamin Bratt, playing Ted Santen, is arrogant and forceful, while Simon Baker as Chip Pettengill, and Terence Stamp as Dr. Bud Chantilles are humorous and mysterious. Tom Sizemore does not attain enough screen time for us to get a feel for his character, who indulges in philosophy, but his early death keeps us from needing to know any more than that about him.
"Red Planet" may seem like another addition to the failing sci-fi genre, but it's not without its good points. It has a nicely crafted story that is told lucidly and effectively, with moments of intensity and suspense that fit into the plot. The performances are convincing and well-acted, while the special effects are dazzling and meticulous. I didn't expect much out of this movie, and I guess that helped me to like it as much as I did.
20 of 24 people found the following review helpful
I recently rented this DVD to wile away a stormy Saturday night, and was pleasantly surprised to find what I had anticipated to be just another pot-boiler to be a moderately intelligent (ins't it interesting that one now grabs at any signs of intellect or mentioning of issues as surprising) treatment of a depressingly possible set of future circumstances; having so polluted the Earth's environment, mankind sets about the task of finding virgin territory to infect with the virulent and dangerously corruptive habits of man; Mars. Ah, the reality of the situation makes what would otherwise be a silly premise into a much more releveant and interesting exercise in what is likely an unintended social commentary on man's nature.
The visual effects are stunning, as are some of the action sequences. And while I was not surprised at most of the plot turns, I did find the script to be moderately intelligent, the actors more than merely competent, with Val Kilmer, Benjamin Bratt (lately of "Law and Order" fame), Tom Sizemore, and Terrance Stamp all adding star power and credibility to the action. And who can deny the comely charms and sex appeal of Carrie Anne Moss, whose nipple-evident tee-shirt presence certainly quickened my interest in her scenes. She also adds to the credibility of what is obviously a doomed enterprise, the fledgling human habitation of the red planet. When the smoke clears and the survivors limp away from the hostile reception they receive, one finds a bit of a moral to all this; better to fix Earth than to try to escape the consequences of what man has wreaked on the planet. Maybe the Martians are superior beings after all! Enjoy!
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2006
I would agree with anyone who says this movie is not "great", but it definitely borders on "very good". The acting is NOT bad, it's just subtle, and I didn't get the impression that anyone here was just working for a paycheck. Although I have seen way too many movies that try to compensate for poor writing with great special effects (and fail miserably in the attempt), RED PLANET's script isn't that bad and the special effects DO make up for it, especially if you love robotics. I also love the whole feel of this movie; if you badly want to see humanity go to Mars, this movie will just get you revved up more! Val Kilmer and Terence Stamp are wonderful (as usual) and Carrie Anne Moss depicts just the right amount of angst considering that she's the captain (although just about anyone could have played that role). I was very glad to add this to my collection.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2007
Ok, the science is a bit flawed, and some parts slightly cheesy,
but overall, a story with a strong pulse and clear vision.
Not a macho movie, but one with a conscience. Strong casts
that battles thru several tough survival situations and is pressed
to make the right decisions using their different specializations.
A nice sci-fi flick in an age that has abandoned sci-fi (quite
19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on January 24, 2001
I am amazed at these reviews written here. People compare this movie way too much. Yes, Mission to Mars may have been a "smarter" film directed by an experienced well established director. But let's face it, with the exception of some great commercials, Red Planet is a first movie for this new director and quite frankly-it really isn't half bad. If I have to compare, I would say this movie has comparable quality to any major sci-fi movie out there. It definately surpasses any made-for-tv movie and it has a believable story and a believable ending (two points seriously lacking in Mission to Mars). Don't get me wrong, this movie has some serious script problems but this movie has a strong cast that delivers their characters without a hitch. I am a huge fan of Terence Stamp and Val Kilmer and quite frankly Carrie Anne Moss is the one of the hottest actresses to come along since Sandra Bullock and Natasha Henstridge. I do have to agree with a comment made by an earlier reviewer, I was glad they kill off Benjamin Bratt early in the film because he was just plain annoying in this movie. Tom Sizemore is way cool though and has a good strong character in this film. Don't listen to the useless reviews placed here, this movie is total eye candy and will make a great addition to any sci-fi collection.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on November 8, 2006
I found the movie entertaining and I'm not a hard core science fiction fan. It was somewhat cliche, but movies that come out of Hollywood are almost all "formula" productions because the studios feel that they'll make a profit if they do it that way.
On to the movie - the plot was interesting, the cinematography was excellent and the acting was good.
It's not going to blow sunshine up your skirt but it's an entertaining film.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 12, 2007
It's the year 2057, and Earth isn't as hospitable a planet as it used to be, thanks to increasing problems in the Earth's environment (can you say "global warming"?). So, in an effort to save the Earth's population, a major global project has been launched to make the planet Mars a second home for us humans by making it's atmosphere able to support life. But something has gone wrong with the project, and a five man, one woman crew from the U.S. (with the woman as Commander) have been sent to the red planet to investigate, and tagging along with them is a powerful, four-legged, all-terrain robot named AMEE (i.e. "Amy") that can swiftly run around like a leopard & use guerrilla tactics to defend itself. On finally reaching Mars, the crew's entry into the planet's orbit goes very awry thanks to a dangerous solar flare. With Commander Bowman forced to remain behind on the crippled ship, the five men crash-land on the Mars surface. With no radio contact available & no immediate way to return to Bowman (who has her own problems to deal with up in the spacecraft), AND with the robot AMEE having been damaged in the Mars landing and is now running amok, the crew must fight for survival, solve the mystery of the Mars project, AND find a way to get back to Bowman and the spacecraft.... 2000's "Red Planet," although not a perfect movie---somebody forgot to tell the FX crew to wipe out those white clouds from the Martian sky---is still a great sci-fi flick, with very good acting & direction, a very good story, great visual effects (apart from the goof with the clouds), and is quite exciting. I really like the cast of this film, too. While it's a bit unrealistic to have a lone woman leading a crew of five men in space (especially one who's a total babe), who better a woman to lead the men then the woman from "The Matrix"? Carrie-Anne Moss is perfectly cast as Commander Bowman. Yes, she firmly leads the men, but just firmly enough without being militaristic or macho, and without ever losing touch with her gentle, feminine side. You appreciate her very-obvious beauty, but you also appreciate her. Val Kilmer has never been more appealing in a film before. As the kind-hearted flight engineer Gallagher, he's actually a *really nice* guy here, and he plays the role very well, indeed. You like him, and you root for his survival. Rounding out the cast, the always-reliable Tom Sizemore does an excellent job as the cocky scientist, Benjamin Bratt is suitably oily as the hard-ass co-pilot, Simon Baker is good as the immature & ultimately paranoid agriculturalist, and Terence Stamp lends fine support as Dr. Chantillas, the spiritual, eldest astronaut of the crew. And then, there's the out-of-control killer robot, AMEE. She may be a visual effect of the CGI kind (for the most part), but with her four-legged animal design, menacing presence & physical strength, she's still a pretty scary bucket of bolts that poses a definite threat to the crew & their survival. The look of the film, with it's panoramic shots of the Mars surface and it's canyons, the interiors of the crews' spacecraft, as well as it's top-notch visual effects, is terrific. Antony Hoffman does a fine job with the direction, and the story is engaging & enjoyable. And the film's soundtrack is fabulous, too: Graeme Revell supplies an excellent, haunting score, and there are also first-rate contributions from Peter Gabriel, Sting & The Police, and Italian songstress Emma Shapplin. Although a box-office flop back in 2000, "Red Planet" definitely deserved a much better reception. Also, this movie is now more relevant than it ever was before. Despite being science-fiction, it addresses the global warming issue, as well as the real possibility of transforming---aka "terraforming"---Mars into a second planet for us humans to live on, which could very well happen someday. "Red Planet" is a solid, intelligent, entertaining sci-fi film that deserves another look.