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3.7 out of 5 stars79
3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 14 November 2006
A number of previous reviewers were disappointed by Red Planet. I wasn't. Of course, for die-hard SF fans (which I am not), fond of faster-than-light travel, intergalactic laser battles, indestructible monsters etc. the movie looks a bit pedestrian.

Red Planet is more of an adventure flick than your typical SF blockbuster. I found the plot quite believable, the technology fairly realistic (including "smart" extra-vehicular suits and a lander inspired by both the Apollo Lunar Module and the more recent unmanned probes) and the acting performances very decent. Val Kilmer's acting is quite subdued (you may at first wonder if he really is the main character), and the whole cast fill their roles well. Special effects are excellent yet unobtrusive (the zero-G fire and the "landing" scenes are quite impressive), while the depiction of the Martian surface is visually stunning and very close to reality. That, in fact, may be why SF fans generally didn't like the movie: it must have been too... believable. Apart from some gadgets, most of the technology displayed in Red Planet is already with us (or just around the corner), so it doesn't look like the 32nd Century or so. Yes, the storyline might be predictable at times, but it is still a good B-series flick, with no great pretence to be anything else. I'd call it a B+ series movie, and a good way to spend 100 minutes.
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on 7 September 2001
There are many things to reccommend Red Planet. Obviously the film looks fantastic. Mars looks so real and the whole look of Red Planet is very slick. One of my favourite scenes Zero Gravity Fire has Carrie-Anne Moss battling a fire on board the space ship. The special effects are marvellous and the looks amazing as the fire is sucked out into outer space. Val Kilmer gives a good performance in the lead role as he battles against time, the elements and AMEE the malfunctioning multi purpose robot. Red Planet although far-fetched is an intelligent Sci-Fi film and it was good to see NASA's mars lander from 1997 make an appearance. Parts of this film seem to have been greatly inspired by Stanley Kubricks 2001. Most obvious is the case of the crews damaged robot Amee who when she hears that she is to be shut down tries to kill the crew. This seems quite similar to 2001's HAL. This isn't really a bad thing though as 2001 was probably the best sci-fi film ever, and whilst this Red Planet doesn't reach those heights it is still a damn fine film in its own right.
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VINE VOICEon 15 May 2005
If you are looking for some exotic space creature like Sigourney Weaver, or even Jane Fonda. Then this is not the movie for you. The closest it comes to this is the obligatory shower scene. If you are looking for big ugly killer creatures or space pirates, again this movie is not for you.
What this movie does contain are the popular actors of this time. One popular actor included but overlooked in a lot of reviews is Benjamin Bratt ...Ted Santen, who shows up again in "Miss Congeniality" (2000)where he seems to have gotten a much higher rating.
The movie is formula with the standard mix of personalities. The Mission is like all the others. There is a compelling need to go to Mars. Naturally disaster strikes. Some sacrifice some good guys, maybe some bad guys, a few anticipated suppress, and AMEE knows the way to a man's hart.
The DVD has some outtakes that you may find enhances the film and then again the scenes may have been taken out for good reason. There is no running commentary. I am not going to transliterate the story. If you watch it for fun then you should not be disappointed.
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on 27 July 2001
Like the thematically similar 'Pitch Black', 'Red Planet' is a visually superb but poorly plotted sci-fi piece of hokum that will entertain but leave you with a feeling that this could have been significantly better if all concerned had tried harder or had been given more freedom. The look of the the film is outstanding, with CGI melding with live action and props/costumes to give a classy (but not stunning) picture of a state-of-the-art space mission in the mid-21st century. However, the plot is as typically lazy as the rest of the special FX popcorn fare of the last decade. Characters are thinly fleshed out and then casually disposed of at regular intervals to provide some sort of momentum (and filler!) towards Val Kilmer's big final show-down with the mission's psychotic service robot(!). There is much to like about this flick, however, as Carrie-Anne Moss shows the quality for this sort of thing she showed in 'The Matrix' and Kilmer makes a decent hero against a solid cast. Worth a place in the sci-fi fanboy's collection.
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on 14 March 2014
Earth is dying.

A new colony on Mars could be humanity's only hope. A team of American astronauts, each a specialist in a different field, is making the first manned expedition to the red planet and must struggle to overcome the differences in their personalities, backgrounds and ideologies for the overall good of the mission.

When their equipment suffers life-threatening damage and the crew must depend on one another for survival on the hostile surface of Mars, their doubts, fears and questions about God, man's destiny and the nature of the universe become defining elements in their fates....

Red Planet can be viewed in three different ways.

The story of a fight for humankind, with lots of beliefs being questioned and coping with ones self.

The other Mars movie where the robot goes mad during the final act and Kilmer drops the F-Bomb.

Or the film thats famous because Sizemore and Kilmer fell out big time and the hatred oozes through out the film.

But either way you watch the film, you cannot deny how mundane and boring the actual finished project is.

Many people compare it to 'Mission to Mars' but look closer and it's better to compare it to the other space movie released that year, 'Supernova'.

Both were devoid of story and/or characterisation, and both had an online 'ally' going nuts at the end.

Kilmer puts in his usual performance, and the rest of the cast look bamboozled as to why they are actually there.

2000 wasn't a good year for movies, save a couple, and this furthers my proof.
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on 28 May 2011
Produced in 2000 during the credit boom, when the heroes were investment bankers and hedge fund managers, the prospect of a dying world was probably intended to be prophetic. Yet how the advanced space craft could have been built by a society geared to the quick return, with no heed to the long term consequences, is not explained. The contempt for engineering and technologists in general, which society at that time referred to as 'geeks' and 'nerds', appears to have extended to calling the ship's engineer the 'janitor'by the date the film is set. It would have been more credible if all the crew members' faces had been asian or oriental, because Western technology was in fact in regression, and by 2051 would definitely not be capable of interplanetary spaceflight. However, there was a definite attempt to represent the physics of space flight correctly. The travel times apear to be based on ion thruster continuous low thrust/high specific impulse technology, which has been known, and demonstrated experimentally, since the 1960s.

Most of the ship appears to be a power generating plant, presumably nuclear. The crew accommodation is a pair of counter-rotating carousels, to provide some artificial gravity. This could also potentially be used to save on manoeuvre propellant by using gyroscopic action of the rotating carousels. The major gaff was showing the ship thrusting towards Mars, when it should be thrusting away in the deceleration phase. In addition, with the low thrust propulsion, the launch windows would not be as critical as for high thrust rockets, so much of the dramatic tension was artificial. Also, how they failed to detect the atmosphere was breathable by spectroscopic analysis from the Earth, was not explained.

To the maker's credit, they represented zero gravity and the communications delay credibly.

There is one female crew member, and the story is basically 'who gets the girl?'. Nineties feminism, of course, requires her to be the commander. An experienced lady of about fifty would be more credible, but no, we must have the mandatory bimbo. Obviously the old guy and the fat guy are out of the running, so it is between the three remaining mesomorphs. In 2000, the winner would have been the least likely. Nowadays, when society in general has a greater understanding of which side its bread is buttered, the outcome is no real surprise.
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The second of the Mars based box office bombs released in 2000, Red Planet is maybe - just maybe - worth a revisit by some who were irritated by it back on first viewing. Once knowing that this is not going to be some action packed alien movie, that it's a survivalist drama that tips its hat to 1950s sci-fi schlock, that cares about its characters, then there's a decent popcorner experience to be had here.

This is not to say it's a genius entry in the sci-fi pantheon, because it's not, the same problems still exist; Terence Stamp is woefully under used (seriously they could have got any low paid character actor to play his role), some things either don't make sense or are left unanswered, and of course it still drags in the middle as the boys chatter away on Mars whilst Carrie Anne-Moss is up at base station fretting and suffering erectus nippleus.

Yet there's fun to be had here, some nutty science marries up with nice photography and splendid set design, and the makers know what sort of picture they want to make. Where Mission to Mars sunk under the weight of its own pretensions - trying to go all elegiac and important, Red Planet nudges and winks and asks you along for the ride. So get on board and take it for what it is, a pretentious free zone with good human drama at the core. 6.5/10
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on 16 July 2006
Like De Palmas dreadful "Mission to Mars", "Red Planet" has all the ingredients of a Sci-Fi epic but fails to deliver. Unlike "Mission to Mars" which attempted to go for excessive plausibility in supporting its missing presumed dead storyline "Red Planet" swings the opposite way with weak characterisation, trite dialog and some poor performances.

Val Kilmer is not miscast, however, his cartoon-like character should not have been involved in such a mission. Carry-Anne Moss as Bowman, the commander of the mission, demonstrated no command strengths except perhaps yelling and seemed to be little more than eye candy with her tendency to take her clothes off - hardly a strong female lead and certainly not much of a role model. Other characters played by Benjamin Bratt, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker and Terence Stamp were bland and interchangeable.

The idea was sound I suppose, the idea of terraforming using algae to convert the atmosphere to a more earthlike mix, the concept of earth becoming too crowded and polluted etc etc. A little hackneyed yes, but it was the most interesting part of the movie. A combination survey/combat robot? Well of course it was going to go nuts and start moulinexing its way through the crew - cliched and overused in so many other films.

Overall it came out as a weak movie that appeared to set high standards for itself and then failed to reach them. I give this movie three stars for its setting as Mars did look pretty good, and for the use of the algae idea.

I was looking for a serious plausible movie and didn't find it, but had I been looking for a semi-serious sci-fi road movie I might have enjoyed it. If all you want is a simple space movie with a little action and excitement then perhaps you'll get more out of this than I did.
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on 7 December 2010
This movie's characters have been traveling together for half a year. You'd expect we should know them quite well. However, with one exception (Terence Stamp's character), the astronauts are pretty bland characters. Carrie-Anne Moss's character shows decent leadership skills, but then again she is the leader so that's expected. Aside from one particular scene near the halfway mark I felt very little for these characters. Then again even they didn't seem particularly bothered whenever one of the people they'd been bonding with over several months died.

The portrayal of alien life makes much more sense than the film's competitor, Mission to Mars; that's probably a weak compliment but still. The killer robot actually has a practical design.

The pacing is weird, things get started very quickly, yet at times the film drags somewhat.
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VINE VOICEon 1 December 2002
If you are looking for some exotic space creature like Sigourney Weaver, or even Jane Fonda. Then this is not the movie for you. The closest it comes to this is the obligatory shower scene. If you are looking for big ugly killer creatures or space pirates, again this movie is not for you.
What this movie does contain are the popular actors of this time. One popular actor included but overlooked in a lot of reviews is Benjamin Bratt ...Ted Santen, who shows up again in "Miss Congeniality" (2000) where he seems to have gotten a much higher rating.
The movie is formula with the standard mix of personalities. The Mission is like all the others. There is a compelling need to go to Mars. Naturally disaster strikes. Some sacrifice some good guys, maybe some bad guys, a few anticipated suppress, and AMEE knows the way to a man's hart.
The DVD has some outtakes that you may find enhances the film and then again the scenes may have been taken out for good reason. There is no running commentary. I am not going to transliterate the story. If you watch it for fun then you should not be disappointed.
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