Top 20 Mars Movies, or 99 Years of Mars in Cinema

It may seem that cinema and Mars aren’t in a particularly good relationship. First, we had some early 1910s-1920s productions that were more about pacifism and communism than space travel – let alone Mars. Then came the time of the cheesy and naive 1950s productions, and believe me, it won’t take them long to put a you smile on your face if you watch these oldies now. When – finally! – science fiction got some big budgets in the early 1980s, it didn’t help much either – the visuals got better, but the overall feeling often remained the same. However…

mission

”Mission to Mars”, 2000.

…we terrans don’t surrender easily, do we? We are quite stubborn creatures. Most Mars movies were box office flops, but it never prevent us from trying again and again.

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”Robinson Crusoe On Mars”, 1964.

99 years is a whole lot of time, and some beautiful films were shot, ranging from childish or gory production to some hyper-realistic and incredibly plausible stories.

Let’s go! Mars it waiting. Continue reading

Dark Star

dark_star_ver2Director: John Carpenter. Screenplay/story: Dan O’Bannon, John Carpenter. Starring: Dan O’Bannon, Brian Narelle, Dre Pahich, Cal Kuniholm. USA, 1974. Budget: $60,000. IMDb: 6.7. My rating: 3.5/4. Odd science fiction space comedy.

– Now, Bomb, consider this next question very carefully… What is your purpose in life?
– To explode, of course.
– And you can do it only once, right?
(Doolitle convinces the bomb not to explode)

– All right, Bomb… prepare to receive new orders.
– You are false data. Therefore, I should ignore you.
(Doolitle convinces the bomb not to explode)

I must confess – I have never really liked John Carpenter. And I barely enjoy horror movies (with some notable exceptions like “The Shining”). I watched “Halloween” recently and enjoyed it at times, but if we forget for a moment its heritage, I find this cult slasher pretty mediocre. While admitting Carpenter’s immense influence, I’ve always seen most of his films made with little creativity, without that special sparkle that would lighten up everything. He is too technical in his approach, like an artisan, not an artist, who is methodically repeating similar feel and techniques in different movies. Note: I didn’t watch “Halloween”, “Escape from New York” or “The Thing” when they were released – movies that I don’t find bad, but just… pretty average in everything and with superficial characters? I’ve always felt Carpenter cares most about showing what happens to his characters, but not really the characters themselves.

But “Dark Star”, Carpenter’s and O’Bannon debut movie, made me change my mind about him. This little space comedy is like a fireworks show that you setup by yourself on a New Year’s Eve in the backyard. It’s an extravagant parody on space movies and “2001: A Space Odyssey” in particular. Fresh, well-crafted, wry and weirdly funny. Continue reading