Review: The Last Days on Mars
As the title suggests, this sci-fi feature follows a group of astronauts, who after months on Mars studying the planet, prepare for the six-month journey to return to Earth. During one of their last expeditions though, one astronaut uncovers a strange and ultimately lethal bacteria that endangers the crew and threatens their voyage home.
The steady Live Schreiber is the most notable actor in this Irish production. He is joined by some fine actors in Olivia Williams, Romola Garai, and Elias Koteas.
The Last Days on Mars is not at all novel, and it knows it, trying to make up for perfunctory story with solid acting, direction, and nods at suspense. For science fiction fans it won’t be enough for this film by Irish director Ruairi Robinson to be memorable, but well-done is certainly worth something.
It’s dedicated film, one that strives and for the most part succeeds at creating characters whose future you are somewhat interested in. Indeed, it’s a triumph of mediocrity, which isn’t that bad – it’s just not that great.
Visually unremarkably (Mars isn’t that pretty to begin with), the story follows Vincent (Schreiber) and his mosaic crew – there is a beautiful blonde woman, an ice queen, a wise father figure, a weak-willed portly gent, a bearded heroic man, and a couple of sniveling selfish men – as they prepare to leave Mars, having researched the Red Planet for months.
One man disobeys orders, however, and his curiosity gets the best of him. What results is somewhere along the lines of either ‘The Thing in Space’ or ‘Zombies in Space;’ whatever you prefer. A bacterium infects one man, it starts to spread, and suddenly the whole crew is in danger.
The moment creeps up on the viewer, and suddenly the quiet film becomes frenetic, tense, and rather bloody. Naturally, the astronauts are picked off one by one, forcing the hand of those left to try to survive until they can be rescued.
There isn’t anything at all that hasn’t been seen before, but the film tries genuinely to entertain, never overreaching while never settling for cheap storytelling tricks. It’s not original, but nothing is, and while ‘The Last Days on Mars´ might not last long in theatres or in the respected annals of sci-fi films, it is still respectable.
Should You See It?
It’s rare a sci-fi film isn’t visually arresting – if you’re craving a Mars movie, hit the theatres. Otherwise, catch it at home.