Movie Reviews: Ghosts of Mars




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     Screen Gems (90 min.)
     Ghosts from an ancient Martian civilization attack a remote Earth outpost station on the red planet.
     Ice Cube, Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham, Pam Grier and Clea Duvall
Bottom Line:


It’s bad form for a movie critic to review an audience. Especially at a free screening of a movie where the audience has no vested interest, because you expect a certain amount of restlessness among the masses.

However, with "John Carpenter’s Ghosts Of Mars," I’m making an exception as I counted no less than 20 people walking out of the theater 30 minutes into the film.

With mutilations and decapitations filling the screen every five minutes, it’s a small wonder why. "Halloween" established Carpenter as the master of horror and he made his bones as the master of camp with "Escape From New York."

With "Ghosts Of Mars," which resembles warmed over episodes of "The Twilight Zone" and outtakes from "Escape From New York," it seems Carpenter attempted to recapture both of those elements. Unfortunately, he just ended up with a horrible gross out film that a first year film student could easily improve upon.

The premise involves a small police squad sent to a Martian mining town to transfer Desolation Williams (Ice Cube), an extremely dangerous criminal, back to their administrative Martian city, Chryse.

When the squad, led by Pam Grier, arrives at the usually bustling town, it’s deserted and the only people they find are several of the town’s criminals locked away in the local jail.

Through a series of confusing flashbacks told by every character in the movie (some are flashbacks within a flashback) the squad learns that an alien presence has possessed the miners and is forcing them to chop, dice, blend and decapitate any Earthling on Mars that they can find.

"Ghosts Of Mars" is a mess. By the time every character tells their story the film loses its pace and the remaining audience members who decided to stick it out, don’t really care any more who gets killed.

By the third act I found myself patting down my pockets in search of cars keys. But against my better judgement, I decided to stay for the duration to see if the Martians were going to decapitate Carpenter for writing and directing such a lousy movie and composing such a dreadfully blaring musical score.

Carpenter’s decapitation, I mused, would bring an end to any future 90 minute movies like this one, which was like sitting through a two hour tooth extraction.

In Carpenter's defense, while walking out of the theater I heard a young man say, "Dude, that film was awesome." That comment made me stop and think. Maybe Carpenter hasn’t lost the elements of his earlier films after all. Forget about art. The man knows the business of movie making and how to make a fast buck from the audience he’s aiming for.



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