This weekend sees the release of The Last Days On Mars, a new sci-fi-horror film from Oscar-nominated Irish director Ruairi Robinson, and featuring a host of great actors like Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams and Elias Koteas. Dealing with a group of astronauts on their last few days on the red planet, they discover “something” (no spoilers here!) that finds its way back to their habitat, which results in terror and death for everyone it comes into contact with. Certainly not a film to go and watch by yourself!
Our celestial neighbour has been visited a good few times in cinema and TV – remember The Wong Ranch in Futurama, where Amy’s rich parents lived? – so we've taken a look back over our top five movies set on the crimson rock-ball.
5. JOHN CARPENTER’S GHOSTS OF MARS (2001)
John Carpenter had one hell of a hey-day, with a run of films featuring the likes of Halloween, The Thing, Escape From New York, The Fog and Big Trouble In Little China. Then things took a turn for the cheese-y, and with Ghosts Of Mars, he essentially remade his own movie Assault On Precinct 13 (which was itself basically a remake of Rio Bravo), but on Mars. With Ghosts. Starring Ice Cube, Pam Grier and Jason Statham. Listen, we know this is no GOOD, but you defy you not to have more fun watching this with a bunch of mates than just about anything else this year.
4. MISSION TO MARS (2000)
Released within months of the identically plotted Red Planet (which was released within months of Ghosts Of Mars), the early 21st century had a big fascination with old ginger upstairs. This time it was uber director Brian De Palma – The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, Carrie – bringing a bunch of astronauts on to Mars in search of life. And boy howdy, do they ever find it. Again, the plot is a bit all over the place, but the visuals are still astounding, and it is apparently HIGHLY scientifically accurate. At least the flying on the spaceship bit is. Not the getting killed by sentient tornadoes bit. At least we hope that isn’t accurate...
3. DOOM (2005)
Based on the hit video-game series, the movie adaptations sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Karl Urban and Rosamund Pike try to survive a medical facility where some science-y stuff has gone very, very wrong. There’s a part in this movie, quite close to the end, where it switches to a First Person Perspective, imitating the look of the game it was based on, and these few minutes are absolutely bad-ass. Had the whole movie been like that, it might have been the greatest movie ever made. Or at the very least, the most bad-ass movie ever made.
2. JOHN CARTER (2012)
Unfairly dismissed upon its release as being a mish-mash of other sci-fi films, the thing about John Carter is that the novel it was based on came out before them all, so all those big swooping science fiction adventure epics (we're looking at you, Star Wars) were all borrowing from this! Some great action scenes, lovely visuals, decent acting, quite fun and exciting, most definitely deserving a second look now that the scarlet-dust has settled.
1. TOTAL RECALL (1990)
What else could it have been, really? When you’ve got an in-his-prime Arnie hooking up with the director of Robocop, a bad-girl played by a high-kicking Sharon Stone, and more over-the-top violence and glorious one-liners than fifty other blockbusters, what you get is still one of the greatest action sci-fi movies of all time. Just watching that (remarkably shoddy) trailer gets us antsy for watching the film all over again!