The year is 2045, and the earth is so poisoned with pollution that humankind needs
a new planet (that I can believe, and believe you me, it is one of the few plausible
ideas in the movie). The first manned mission to Mars is sent out in a spaceship
under the leadership of commander Bowman (who, incidentally, is a woman - so much
for "manned" missions!).
For a few years now, scientists have been trying to make the red planet compatible for humans by trying to get it to produce oxygen. When oxygen levels drop without explanation, the mission, which includes trained spacemen, a biologist and even an archeologist, is sent to investigate.
But the landing doesn't quite go as planned as systems fail (some things never
change!), and this forces the commander to stay behind in the spaceship, manually
working the landing of the other five. The landing scene has been done rather
well, and is one of the high points of the movie. Just as they are about to suffocate
due to lack of oxygen, they discover they can breathe. Voila! There's oxygen in
As commander Bowman tries desperately to contact the Mars "ground crew", they find an ancient radio left behind by an ancient space probe, and miraculously learn to work it. Contact is re-established, but a fat amount of good it does them. They are stuck on Mars with no way of getting out.
One by one, the men drop dead on Mars, which is not a very nice thing. And then there's AMEE, a huge and powerful robot designed to look like a steel dog. AMEE has been accidentally turned into military mode that puts her in a really black mood.
Back home at Houston, scientists remember that an old Russian space probe in Mars (old, here, is 1997) can be used to transport the men back to the spaceship. The problem is, it is a hundred kilometers away from our men, and they have just about 19 hours to get there.
The movie is gripping at times, but fails to sustain your interest for long. Thankfully,
there are no huge, man-eating Martians, though the crew does find life in Mars
in the form of unpleasant-looking insects (which do kill one of their members).
Trying to keep the movie believable, the makers have tried not to use too much
of fantasy, so Red Planet is no Independence Day or Armageddon (thankfully!).
But with AMEE and the bugs, space walks and a rather fantastic end, Red Planet
does not score high on plausibility.
With good dialogues and fair direction, Red Planet is not a bad movie. Its biggest
enemy, though, is boredom. The movie fails to hold your attention, which is suicidal.
If you plan to watch it, I'd recommend you do so with a friend or two.