Because the trailer is the true test of a movie's quality!


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Ratings Explanation

Red Planet

Ever since the success of “Rocket Man,” Hollywood has found itself obsessed with Mars and the lucrative Mars movie market. With “Red Planet,” they might have found another Martian movie that will capture “Rocket Man's” success, especially since we were treated to another “Volcano”/“Dante's Peak”/“Deep Impact”/“Armageddon” battle between the studios1. “Red Planet,” which has been in the can for the past few months, was supposed to go up against “Mission To Mars,” but was pulled after execs saw how bad “Mission” was. Wanting to let its bitter taste leave people's mouths, Warner Brothers delayed the release of “Red Planet” until now. Was it a good idea? Yes and no, because the idea was neither good or bad as the movie will open with the same results now as it would have months ago.

The trailer starts out with a shot of Carrie-Anne Moss, because it's important to associate one of the stars of the hit, “The Matrix,” with your movie2. We get the voice-over that sets the movie's premise and provides the reason for travel to Mars – we've depleted Earth's resources while polluting and overpopulating it3. To avoid extinction, man has to take to the stars and “Get his ass to Mars4." The audience is treated to some “Apollo 13” shots of walking astronauts, and we get a look at some of the “Lost In Space” styled special effects which includes AMEE, the crew's Aibo. Oh, and Val Kilmer shows up with his Iceman haircut and doing his best Gary Hall Jr. impression.

The trailer moves onto some exterior shots of Mars and of the ship our cast is riding in, both of which are nothing to be amazed over, especially if you've seen “Babylon 5” or have played with the Playstion 2. Moss, who's obviously the leader of the group since this is the future and it's totally en vogue to have strong female characters these days, decides to send their Mars Lander down to begin the expedition. However, fate has something else in store for our intrepid heroes as Kilmer tries to stir the oxygen tanks causing an explosion of some sort. It's really hard to tell, but the bright flashes in this darkly lit movie are pissers to your adjusted pupils. There's an impressive shot of the Lander contacting the Martian surface, completely surrounded by airbags, which would have been a lot more impressive looking if everyone hadn't seen the same NASA animation back when the Mars Rover landed.

Naturally, the landing doesn't go smoothly as there are clips of the balloon bundled Lander bouncing all over the place, falling down a crevice, and hitting some sharp rocks. Intercut with this are clips from within the Lander of the crew breaking free of their harnesses and bouncing all over the interior. Of course it seems that Moss, being the strong powerful woman leader, opted to remain on the orbiting ship and not go down to the planet with Kilmer and Tom Sizemore5. When Moss can't contact the crashed ground crew, she sends out AMEE the Aibo to track them down.

Kilmer haters in the audience are able to enjoy the next clip of Kilmer bleeding from his facial orifices, while Kilmer lovers are able to enjoy the clip for his excellent ability to act like he's unconscious. One of the more odd revelations revealed by the clip is Kilmer awakening and discovering that he can breathe without help on the Martian surface. And no, in the future, Earth's atmosphere hasn't become so polluted and oxygen depleted that man has evolved the ability to survive in zero-atmosphere environments6. It turns out that the planet's surface is covered in algae, something that Moss, sitting in her tight tank top7 on the ship has trouble believing8.

Anyway, with that little tidbit revealed, it's time to move on and let the audience know that this isn't going to be “Mission To Mars,” but rather a “Pitch Black” styled thriller. A concerned Moss tells the ground crew that they need to find shelter immediately, because such a declaration tells the preview watcher, "SUSPENSE!" The cuts of AMEE slinking around in the shadows with an “eerie” and annoying metallic sound effect along with shots of crew members whipping around really fast heightens the tension9. Now that you've got the point that this movie will contain 43.4% more tension than any other movie coming out this weekend, it moves on to lots of flashy explosions. While it doesn't seem like there are more explosions than in last week's “Charlie's Angels,” it has a fair share of them.

Obviously, stuff just can't be randomly exploding or sparking, because that's not enough of a thrill factor. Nope, because now we see that AMEE has gone crazy and is going after the crew on a search and destroy mission. The clips of AMEE attacking people in dimly lit scenes increase as the preview's music gets more irritating. We also get clips of the astronauts floating around in space, running, and doing stuff, along with a clip of Moss yelling, “COME ON!” And kudos to the trailer people for ending the preview with a guy free-falling down a canyon10.

“Red Planet” looks to be your typical sci-fi thriller, like “Alien,” “Aliens,” and “Pitch Black.”11 It's definitely not the crap that “Mission To Mars” was, mainly because “Red Planet” doesn't appear to “pay homage” to “2001,” with the exception of the malfunctioning machine that tries to kill the heroes. This movie looks enjoyable, but not worth full price. It sits on the edge of seeing it at a matinee and renting it, so I'll give it the higher – pay to see it at a matinee showing with a friend who won't yell at you for taking him to see a so-so movie, and who won't mock you weeks from now for seeing it. Or you can go see Adam Sandler do his Harry Carey impression for 90 minutes in what will probably be his first “nouveaux” film to not open at number one. In either case, you're better off watching ELECTION 2000 Coverage in your underwear.

1. Which can get more heated than a Lobster battle in Kitchen Stadium.
2. And for some reason there are guys who think she's "DA BOMB."
3. It's a totally new concept that has NEVER been explored in the realm of science fiction…really!
4. At least that's what Ah-nold wants us to believe if "Total Recall" can be trusted.
5. You know, the guy from "Heat" and "Saving Private Ryan."
6. And they're not playing in the "Total Recall" universe where Ah-nold has already caused the underground ice reserves to sublimate and create some kind of atmosphere.
7. Because despite being a strong female leader, she's still a woman whose looks must be exploited, something every pessimistic sci-fi film should have taught you.
8. She probably has suspicions the algae is just some plot point that lets the film makers spend less money on effects, costumes, and set design or to explain why they can use big, colorful explosions.
9. It doesn't really, but I'm just trying to convey to you what the trailer makers probably wanted you to feel.
10. If it ended with a loud "PLOP," it would have been even better.
11. This means you can look forward to Sci-Fi Channel chats on IRC with someone involved in "Red Planet."

Get your ass to matinee prices.

Review by




Benjamin Bratt said he'd only appear in this movie if they had this scene to pay homage to "Law & Order."



Look into AMME's eye, not to be confused with HAL's.



I'm sorry...about Goose, and that whole thing with The Riddler.



Babylons 1 through 4 were either destroyed or vanished.



My God, it's full of stars, or at least that other movie is.



In space, tank tops get tighter.



Pre-order your Sony Aibo 9 today!



I hope AMEE's AE-35 unit didn't fail.



Oh God! Someone is piping Dogstar through my earphone!


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