Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Has Hollywood Forgiven Mars?

Last year I wrote an article asking why Hollywood hates Mars? The answer was simple. The last few films about Mars or with "Mars" in the title have tanked: 'John Carter,' 'Mars Needs Moms,' 'Red Planet,' 'Ghosts of Mars,' 'Doom,' 'Mission to Mars,' etc.

The last successful Mars-centric film was the original 'Total Recall' in 1990. In Hollywoodland 1990 was forever ago. Hollywood is known to reboot franchises within the same decade of its original release (i.e. 'Spiderman).
It's precisely this reason that the 'Total Recall' remake was striped of all things Mars. Likewise, 'The Princess of Mars' was renamed the bland 'John Carter.' Inevitably, both of these films still failed. The 'Total Recall' remake was just a bad movie, but I surmise that 'John Carter' failed due to a poor marketing strategy. In either case, Mars was likely blamed and Hollywood's disdain for the red planet continued. 
So imagine my surprise when I see a preview for the new Liev Schreiber movie, 'The Last Days on Mars.' Not only is it set on Mars, but it has Mars in the title. How risque. Directed by Oscar-nominated short film director, Ruairi Robinson, the new film has all the trimmings of a good space horror film: a good visual effects team √, the vacuum of space √, astronauts on a mission to collect scientific data √, the discovery of hostile extraterrestrial life of unknown origins √, unhealthy curiosity √, and the fight for survival √.

It's been done before, most recently with 'Apollo 18,' which was fairly decent for a found footage film. But hopefully 'The Last Days of Mars' will be more like 'Alien' and 'and less like  'Blair Witch.' Perhaps Hollywood has finally forgiven Mars? After all 200,000 people have signed up to go on a potential one-way trip to Mars if NASA ever gets its act together. So things are looking up for Mars, but wait 'The Last Days of Mars' is being released on Video on Demand (VOD) on October 31st and then in limited release on December 6th. VOD is fine for low-budget horror, but not for first run films.
Alas it appears that Hollywood has not forgiven Mars. I'm hoping that this film does well because I want Hollywood to understand that audiences don't hate Mars. We hate bad movies. 
Blaming Mars is the equivalent of a cat blaming its litter box for a urinary tract infection. If you're a pet owner you will understand the reference. The cat doesn't know the UTI is coming from its own body, so it thinks that the litter box is somehow to blame. It's a cat, not a rocket scientist. This line of thinking prompts the cat to seek out a bathroom not in its litter box, much to the chagrin of its owner. We can all agree--cat pee is no joke and blaming Mars for the failure of a film is just as silly.


  1. Hopefully it does well regardless. Schreiber is an excellent actor and can only elevate the film.

  2. You're right, we don't hate mars, we hate trite films.

  3. I REALLY hope it's good and that it does well.

  4. Mars has become a cliche unfortunately, but if anyone can redeem it it's him.

  5. Alex-- I agree. I love Liev!

    Libby-- If only you were in Hollywood!

    Pat-- Me too!

    Maurice-- So true!


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