Magnet Releasing

The Last Days on Mars (2013, Ruairi Robinson)

The Last Days on Mars is nothing if not bold in what it rips off. Director Robinson and screenwriter Clive Dawson don’t even bother disguising the primary influences–Alien, Aliens, The Thing, Ghosts of Mars–the last one is probably coincidental. You can only do so many stories about zombies on Mars and have it be original.

The film does have extraordinary special effects, great music from Max Richter (who also borrows from the mentioned films in tone, without abject plagiarism) and decent photography from Robbie Ryan . A lot of Mars is set in the dark and Ryan does well giving the audience just enough to see.

Oh, I forgot. Star Trek II. They rip off Star Trek II a little bit.

Sadly, Robinson isn’t even creative enough to turn these lifts from other, very famous science fiction films, which makes them odd choices for such obvious lifts, into a wink to the audience. He fully seems to expect his audience not to have seen a film before this one.

Even if one had never seen a single film before, Mars would still be lame. Robinson’s not just unoriginal when it comes to his compositions, he can’t direct actors and Dawson’s script doesn’t give them anything to do either.

I suppose Liev Schreiber and Romola Garai are okay in the leads. Elias Koteas is good as the captain, Olivia Williams is decent as a determined scientist. None of the acting’s actually bad except Yusra Warsama.

Mars’s just a bad film.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Ruairi Robinson; screenplay by Clive Dawson, based on a short story by Sydney J. Bounds; director of photography, Robbie Ryan; edited by Peter Lambert; music by Max Richter; production designer, Jon Henson; produced by Andrea Cornwell and Michael Kuhn; released by Magnet Releasing.

Starring Liev Schreiber (Vincent Campbell), Romola Garai (Rebecca Lane), Olivia Williams (Kim Aldrich), Johnny Harris (Robert Irwin), Goran Kostic (Marko Petrovic), Tom Cullen (Richard Harrington), Yusra Warsama (Lauren Dalby) and Elias Koteas (Charles Brunel).


Europa Report (2013, Sebastián Cordero)

Where to start with Europa Report. There are some obvious places. First, it’s in the near future but digital video is about as advanced as it was back in 2004. On a cell phone. Or, you know, the filmmakers wanted to cheap out on the special effects. Another place to start might be the music. Report is a “found footage” picture, yet there’s all this dramatically appropriate music from Bear McCreary. It’s possible one of the crew–the film concerns a manned mission to one of Jupiter’s moons–had an iPod, but why couldn’t that iPod have been used to shoot the video? It would have been sharper. I’ll skip the rest and just talk about

The film has two big problems in director Cordero and writer Philip Gelatt. Cordero tries to use the found footage gimmick to hide all of Gelatt’s contrived or derivative plotting points. Cordero also isn’t able to direct his actors through Gelatt’s dumber moments for them. Most of Report hinges on ostensible geniuses acting like morons.

There’s some really good acting in the film, however, which couldn’t have been easy for the cast because they’re stuck acting to the same stationary cameras. Cordero doesn’t do anything interesting with those fixed setups either. Being found footage does nothing to enhance Report, just makes it cheaper.

Christian Camargo and Karolina Wydra give the film’s best performances. Michael Nyqvist is really good. The rest of the cast is fine, sometimes good, sometimes not.

Report doesn’t get passing marks.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Sebastián Cordero; written by Philip Gelatt; director of photography, Enrique Chediak; edited by Alex Kopit, Craig McKay, Livio Sanchez and Aaron Yanes; music by Bear McCreary; production designer, Eugenio Caballero; produced by Kevin Misher and Ben Browning; released by Magnet Releasing.

Starring Christian Camargo (Dr. Daniel Luxembourg), Embeth Davidtz (Dr. Samantha Unger), Anamaria Marinca (Rosa Dasque), Michael Nyqvist (Andrei Blok), Daniel Wu (William Xu), Karolina Wydra (Dr. Katya Petrovna), Dan Fogler (Dr. Nikita Sokolov), Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Dr. Tarik Pamuk) and Sharlto Copley (James Corrigan).


Scroll to Top