Combustible Celluloid
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With: Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai, Elias Koteas, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris, Goran Kostic, Tom Cullen, Yusra Warsama, Patrick Joseph Byrnes
Written by: Clive Dawson, based on a short story by Sydney J. Bounds
Directed by: Ruairi Robinson
MPAA Rating: R for violence and language
Running Time: 0
Date: 12/08/2013

The Last Days on Mars (2013)

1 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

The Angry Dead Planet

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

It takes a certain kind of attitude to pull off a movie as ridiculous as The Last Days on Mars, and director Ruairi Robinson simply doesn't have it. Rather than cheerful and energetic, he turns in a movie that's dreary and annoying.

The first manned mission to Mars is nearing its end. Tempers are flaring and personalities are clashing, when one of the crew members makes an important discovery: some kind of bacteria. Life on Mars. Unfortunately, his discovery, and his impetuous behavior, leads to a tragic accident, a cave-in. As his colleagues try to save him, they make a horrific realization. The bacteria turns dead bodies into raging zombies!

It's up to Vincent Campbell (Liev Schreiber) to try and save as many of his crew members as he can before the zombies -- who don't need space suits to survive -- take over.

All of the big zombie attack sequences are shot with such awful, shaky hand-held camerawork that it's nearly impossible to see what's going on. In the old days, directors would obscure their monsters to save money, but Robinson has no such excuse. In one sequence, a character hits an alarm, which -- for some reason -- makes the lights flash on and off so that not even the characters can see anything.

As for the humans, they have no depth or chemistry. Schreiber's character is given one of those handy backstories that includes flashbacks to "something terrible that once happened." The others do nothing but complain and snap at one another. In other words, if the zombies won in this movie, it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing.

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