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A good B-series flick
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.