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Ghosts of Mars [Blu-ray]
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Terror is the same on any planet.
From John Carpenter, the master of horror behind classics like The Thing and Halloween, comes a sci-fi thriller full of explosive action and bone-chilling suspense.
Long inhabited by human settlers, the Red Planet has become the manifest destiny of an over-populated Earth. Nearly 640,000 people now live and work all over Mars, mining the planet for its abundant natural resources. But one of those mining operations has uncovered a deadly mother lode: a long-dormant Martian civilization whose warriors are systematically taking over the bodies of human intruders.
With a stellar cast and explosive special effects, John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars is an intergalactic terror-fest like you've never seen.
"John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars is a brawny space opera, transplanting the conventions of Western, cop and martial arts films to the Red Planet." - Roger Ebert
Directed and written by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing, Vampires)
Starring: Ice Cube (Three Kings), Natasha Henstridge (Species), Jason Statham (The Transporter), Clea DuVall (Argo), Pam Grier (Jackie Brown)
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The biggest issue with "Ghosts of Mars" in addition to the film looking incredibly cheap and ramshackle is that the entire film is told in flashbacks by the main character portrayed by Natasha Henstridge. There are even flashbacks within flashbacks somehow. On the commentary track, John Carpenter admits that the original script was told in linear fashion but he made the decision to restructure the story to instead be told in flashbacks for dramatic purposes. While that can work for some stories, it did not work for "Ghosts of Mars". It is clear that he wanted to do a sci-fi retread combining elements from prior films of his including "Assault on Precinct 13" and "Escape From New York" but it just does not work at all. "Ghosts of Mars" was such a critical and financial disaster at the time of its original theatrical release that John Carpenter would not direct a feature film for 9 years though he directed a couple of episodes for the Showtime series "Masters of Horror" in between during 2005 and 2006.
"Ghosts of Mars" was originally released on bluray by Sony back in 2009. On the surface the 2019 Mill Creek Entertainment reissue appears to just be a repurposing of that disc right down to the extras which were also ported over though no new extras were included. Though I do not have the out of print Sony disc to compare, I have read that while Mill Creek had to use the same HD master provided by Sony though the 2019 disc features better encoding than the 2009 one which helps tighten up the picture quality a bit. Presented on a single layer disc utilizing the AVC codec, the 2019 reissue features a rock solid bit rate hovering in the upper 20's for most of the 98 minute film. Detail is good along with nice contrast and black levels which is important as this is a dark film featuring a lot of black and red in its color palette.
Sound is presented in 5.1 DTS-master audio sounding punchy with nice separation. English subtitles are included for the hearing impaired. The film is divided up into 14 chapter stops.
All extras from the 2009 blu-ray were thankfully ported over to Mill Creek's 2019 disc including the following:
– Audio Commentary with Director John Carpenter and Natasha Henstridge
– Video Diary: Red Desert Nights (17 minutes)
– Scoring Ghosts of Mars (6 minutes)
– Special Effects Deconstruction (6 minutes)
Should you own the 2009 Sony disc, I would say that the 2019 Mill Creek reissue is not worth the double dip other than the slightly better encode. If you are a John Carpenter completionist like I am, then the cheap price of the Mill Creek disc makes it the much better alternative than the more expensive and out of print Sony disc. "Ghosts of Mars" might be a terrible film in my opinion, but it does still have a small but loyal cult following and still gets this film back out in the blu-ray realm for people wanting to own it on physical media but never got around to picking up the 2009 release. I hate the film but this disc is solid from a technical perspective.
is still my favorite "Mars" movie though but this is a film I enjoy. If you like the movie you'll like the BR release.