Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Film Review: The Last Days On Mars (2013)

The Last Days On Mars (Review)
United States/United Kingdom/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"Too good to be mediocre, but still falls just short of good..."

On their final day on Mars, a research crew come in contact with a virulent contagion with very bloody consequences...

The Last Days on Mars (which really should be called The Last DAY on Mars cause, you know, it takes place over 19 hours) follows this crew after one member sets out to find more samples that may prove life on Mars. Unfortunately, he disappears into a gaping sinkhole, and the rest of the team, including crewmate Vincent Campbell (Liev Schrieber), set out to find them. Presumed dead, the lost crew member eventually finds himself back at home base where he seems to have been reanimated -- and his disease is contagious. The rest of the film really follows the survivors as they try to avoid infection and contact mission control to escape. The ending is predictable and lacks the punch needed to be effective.

The Last Days On Mars is a film with many flaws. First, the movie is heavily reliant on the stupidity of its characters; the characters lack logic and rationale, which is surprising considering their jobs. Furthermore, one of the characters is infuriatingly annoying -- I mean really, really annoying, and this annoyance serves little purpose other than to serve as a trope. After the first act, though, the film at least becomes moderately entertaining. The concept is similar to that of 28 Days Later -- this crew seems to be infected with a virus that causes rage after death. I thought some its sequences were also a bit tense and even scary. However, even at its short runtime, the film feels bloated -- definitely felt like a short film stretched out into feature length.

I don't have many notes on the acting -- nothing bad and nothing exceptional. I did like Liev Schrieber and Elias Koteas, though. The film is shot competently; unlike Stranded, which is similar in many aspects, this film is well-lit; some scenes have enough light to soak in the setting, and some are purposefully dark to achieve a certain feeling. The music blended very well with the film, but lacked energy. Director RuairĂ­ Robinson captures the setting well, and creates some suspenseful and tense moments during the latter half; but, his film also suffers from inconsistent pacing and an uneventful plot.

Overall, The Last Days on Mars is a decent SciFi horror film. I like the latter half of the film, I like the setting, and I like the concept; it's also great to see Liev Schrieber as a leading man. However, much like Stranded, The Last Days on Mars borrows so much from other films, it never feels like a distinct film of its own -- it never makes these ideas its own. Furthermore, it can be occasionally boring and uneventful. Too good to be mediocre, but still falls just short of good -- I'll call it decent.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Some strong violence and blood.

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