Irish director Ruairi Robinson was the definition of potential, having been nominated for an Oscar for his short film 50 Percent Grey, and one-time mooted to be the director of the live-action adaptation of hit Manga movie Akira. Then things went quiet for a bit, and Robinson arrived with his first feature length movie, The Last Days Of Mars. A sci-fi horror may seem a little below him, but maybe he’s brought something new to the genre? Maybe he’s made his Alien, or Moon? Nope. While he has no problem borrowing heavily from them both, what he’s delivered is yet another vapid, brainless rip-off of other, better movies.
Things start off decently, as we’re introduced to the crew at the Mars-set station, played by a host of recognisable faces (Liev Schrieber, Elias Koteas, Olivia Williams, Romola Garai), who are all just days away from finishing their months long shift on the red planet. Then one of them happens across a mysterious, bacterial life-form that is capable of bringing the dead back to life… but only as flesh-hungry space-zombies, and everything goes to hell. Both in the film, and for those watching it.
ood actors can sometimes transcend a mediocre film, but more often than not, a terrible film will drag good actors down into mediocrity. The script cordons everyone off into their respective character traits – the shifty one, the heroic one, the rude one, the one surely to die first, etc – and then asks them to deliver some truly shoddy dialogue.
There’s also room for a joke about the movie having about as much atmosphere as the planet its set on, as there’s never any real sense of horror to be found throughout. You would think that dealing with space zombies would be a bit of a no-brainer (pun intended) to get some decent scares out of, and while there is a little tension to be found early on, it all quickly dissipates once the poorly designed space zombies are revealed in all their “glory”.
aybe The Last Days On Mars will be to Robinson what Alien 3 was to David Fincher, a bad first step towards eventual glory. At least we hope it is, for his sake. And ours.