I must be having Deja Vu – didn’t I watch Last Days on Mars a few weeks ago? Oh yes, that was Europa Report, but you’d be forgiven for your confusion as they both suffer from similar problems and aren’t worth the price of admission.
A team of Astronauts have made camp on Mars, and in their last days, a research excavation goes horribly wrong and sets off a chain reaction of events that will leave the explorers with few options and even less hope. Leading the team is Vincent Campbell (Liev Schreiber) who functions as the predictable American hero among the international crew and is joined by several unknowns, and if it sounds like you shouldn’t care about them, you’re right.
Zombie enthusiasts might find some interest in LDoM, but when it comes to the undead, your options are better spent elsewhere.
The Bottom Line
The first thing that jumps out with Last Days on Mars is just how pretty it looks. With a humble budget of around 7 million Pounds Sterling, the production team have really managed to squeeze a lot out of this moderate sum, and the results are gorgeous with stunning CGI, sleek designs and some brilliant cinematography courtesy of Robbie Ryans (Philomena).
And that’s really where the praise ends as LDoM never really makes good on its potential, and for what it’s worth, this film had some great potential. Unfortunately the film indulges in several of the cardinal sins of film that I’ve listed in some of my other reviews, but here they are again should you have forgotten them:
- Boring characters with an implied inherent stupidity.
- A horror film should have suspense, and this one does not.
- The antagonists are dull rehashes of what we’ve seen before.
- Monotonous pacing, actually lets just call this film monotony incarnate.
- No creative scope – when it comes to the writing, they get by on the bare minimum
- Zombies are overdone (even space zombies)
It should have really been retitled as Zombies Killing Dumb Fucks on Mars, because that’s what it is, and it resorts to many of those cliches that we’ve come to know from that sub-genre, not to mention that the actors themselves have about as much collective charisma as a walking corpse. It’s all a rather sorry experience as the film begins on a positive note, and bland dialogue aside, it arouses interest; blend that together with the compelling visuals and it sets up expectations for the rest of the film. Those expectations are betrayed and that is the real crime of this whole rigmarole as it’s less Moon and more Apollo 18.
On the bright side, Last Days on Mars is a great candidate for a future remake – it’s got a great foundation, and with some half-decent writing, it could be tolerable even if it’s just not very memorable. Whenever I think of this film, the Y2K catastrophe known as Mission to Mars comes to mind – that film starring Val Kilmer was awful in almost every conceivable way, but it had character. In many ways this film tries to take the Gravity approach with it’s clean, minimal storytelling – it could have been good (not Gravity good), but Gravity made no cinema sins, and this one makes almost all of them.
Last Days on Mars released to a tepid critical and commercial response last year, and let that be an indication of what you can expect in the film. Visually, this film is eye candy from start to finish, but movies are about more than just clean lines and striking design, and just like its undead antagonists, Last Days on Mars is cold, alienating, and lacks a pulse.