Reviewed By

Christopher Armstead
When this site was launched eight years ago, there was almost always excitement to watch and talk about a movie, even before we knew what the movie was.  Our inspiration was simply the fact that we were given this privilege, and to this day we respect the privilege.  What hasn't survived as much is the inspiration.  As the years have gone on, particularly now, the movie itself has to inspire us to motivate us to write something about it.  Be it a great movie or a gawdawful one, we need this inspiration, otherwise we are just typing words to get it over with.  Unfortunately, 'The Last Days on Mars' gives us no inspiration.  On paper it should, with its interesting premise, nice visuals and top flight cast, but no, we got a mediocre movie.  Not good enough… not bad enough.

As the title suggest, it's the crew of the ship Aurora's last day on Mars, before they pack up and make the six month trip back to Earth.  It's all routine on this last day, but Marko (Goran Kostic) has made an amazing discovery which he is keeping all to himself.  Unfortunately, Marko falls into a crater and gets himself killed.  More or less.

Now I'm not sure what each member of the crew actually does, but let's meet them anyway.  There's Vincent (Liev Schreiber) who's looking like our hero, there's his good friend Rebecca (Romola Garai), there's Charles (Elias Koteas) who is the captain of this vessel, there's Kim (Olivia Williams) who will be serving as the queen bitch, there's Robert (Johnny Harris) who I'm thinking is a psychiatrist or something and looks to be the 'We All Gonna Die Guy' of the crew, then there's Richard (Tom Cullen) who I think is the Fix-It guy, and finally we have Lauren (Yursa Warsama), and we could watch this movie a hundred times and not be able to tell you why she's on this mission.
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We do know that Lauren is pretty broken up about Marko kind of dying and stuff, so you would've thought she'd be a little bit happier when he came back to life.  More or less.  She wasn't.  It looks like that whatever the microbe that Marko found, the most important discovery in the history of history, has turned him into a raving super strong zombie.  A gift he gives to his girlfriend.  A gift that the two of them want to give to everybody left alive.

The good thing is that the mother ship is coming down to take them back to the base station in a few hours.  The bad thing is that they don't really have a few hours.  These Martian zombies are pretty darned relentless and unstoppable and it looks as if their method of zombie transfer is just a simple touch.  Can our heroes survive?  I hope sure as hell hope not, because if they do, there's a good chance they might bring that junk home.  Nobody wants that.

For starters let me just say that personally, I found nothing inherently wrong with 'The Last Days on Mars', at least as far as a vehicle for basic entertainment goes.  If you take a look at the films individual parts, director Ruairi Robinson's film has a lot going for it.  It has a rock solid cast, the atmosphere is effective, the set design is well executed, I enjoyed the pacing as it moved fast enough to keep your interest but not so fast that it felt as if it were out of control, and it has monsters.  Who doesn't love monsters?

But despite the fact that the film has some very good parts, overall it seems to me that this is one of those occasions where the final result is actually less than the sum of these parts.  Most of this I believe we can trace back to the story, which while functional to keep everything moving along, suffered from feeling so familiar.  We do understand that there isn't a lot of original ideas left out there anymore, and we also appreciate that 'The Last Days on Mars' is a fairly original production not based on something that's pre-existing, at least officially, but the magic is in hiding what you borrowed so your audience isn't shouting out the movies they feel the film borrowed from.  I think I saw a little 'Alien' here, a touch of 'Vertigo' there, sprinkled in with a dash of 'The Last Man on Earth', of course 'The Ghosts of Mars' came into play, not to mention a healthy dose of '28 Days Later' and probably a few others that I could point out, but I believe you get my drift.  This does kind of make 'The Last Days on Mars' the most unoriginal, original movie I've seen in an awful long time.

The movie does have a decent horror movie vibe to it, with its solid atmosphere and ploddingly indestructible monsters, but it also suffers from the typical horror movie conventions such as amazingly stupid characters doing amazingly stupid things, and really poor cell phone service when you need it most.  Space phone service I guess.   And of course the height of irresponsibility would be jumping on a ship and heading back to earth carrying a known incurable zombie pathogen.  Sometimes you gotta take one for the team, homeboy.

As we mentioned, 'The Last Days on Mars' isn't terrible, at least not to us, but it is lacking.  Be it in originality or heart or storytelling style… something is missing.  Watchable but almost immediately forgettable.
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