Thoughtful reviews, the Boulder film scene

" Nobody goes into the valley of death. That’s why they call it the valley of death. "
— Grant Heslov, The Scorpion King

MRQE Top Critic

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Having just read a trilogy of rich, detailed science fiction novels about the colonization of Mars, I went to Red Planet with some trepidation. Could they have possibly handled the idea of a human trip to Mars as well as did Kim Stanley Robinson (author of the Red Mars trilogy)? No.

In fact, I lowered my expectations for Red Planet, knowing that it wouldn’t be a very good science fiction film. What I had hoped for, however, was that it would make a good horror film, like Pitch Black. The previews emphasized the threat of a robotic dog gone haywire, so it was a distinct possibility. But alas, Red Planet is a forgettable disappointment. The robotic dog is a minor conflict, seemingly added to spice up this film that takes place on Mars, for goshsakes! You’d think the first journey to another planet might, in itself, inspire a sense of interest or awe, but it doesn’t, not in this film.

The only fun in Red Planet is trying to spot the reflections of the camera and crew in the smoothly-polished faceplates of the astronauts.

(Note to Richard: the science in Red Planet is done badly — for example, the characters call attention to the “light gravity” as they urinate, then they walk off in a perfect earth-gravity gait. Then there’s the “low pressure” Martian storm system that measures 870 millibars — low for earth, but unattainably high on a planet with 1/3 the gravity. Finally, Mars is presented as being hot, one of those misconceptions probably based on association of the color red with heat. Oh well.)