The Last Days on Mars (2013)

Two words: Space Zombies.

Have you hooked yet? What do you mean it sounds stupid? Well, what if they did it right? Did they? Well, I guess that's a complicated question. Okay, it's a simple question, but it's kind of a complicated answer.

For starters, we have Liev Schreiber. He's the headliner here, there's no question about that. I've seen him do a decent job in the Scream series, a very good job in Salt, and an excellent job in Defiance. He can be a very good actor, and he's shown it. He can also pick loser scripts to go with - and X-Men Origins: Wolverine pretty well showed that. In this movie, he tries to bring some acting, and I give him credit for it. The acting was not the problem with this movie.

Many of the special effects were very good. The ones in space were faultless, for example. The ships landing - very good. There are nice, sweeping shots of the landscape that really give you a feel for this being otherworldly, and the same background for the close-up shots isn't shied away from nor is its impact lessened by the foreground. Some excellent CG there. For some reason, all the sets looked very cheap and fake. The props ranged from convincing enough suits to wear while on the planet and iPads for almost every interface. At least they put rugged covers on them, I guess.

So, our hero, his captain, played by Elias Koteas, and assorted scientists are wrapping up what is casually described as an historic mission. Everyone is really punchy, everyone is getting on everyone else's nerves, and everyone is anticipating the last few hours. Some are looking forward to it, others are upset that they haven't learned enough or found enough.

Then, the bad stuff starts to happen. And... space zombies! BOOM! Zombies have their own problems which prevent them from existing, but the result is that attacks on them are limited. For example, they have no heartbeat, so they have no circulatory system which is why you can shoot them in the heart or lungs, and they won't stop.

As a result, you can't attack them like they are normal creatures. They don't breathe, so inhalants don't work, they don't have circulation, so you can't inject poison, and setting them on fire only works against some types. All of the basic rules except for total destruction of the head are pretty much ignored for this film.

The story is the biggest letdown. If you're going to make survival horror, you need to create an atmosphere of fear. Unfortunately, it just isn't here. The vast expanse of nothing has very few dangerous things in it, and the people involved appear to just be pretty stupid - they are no good at devising weapons (specifically ranged weapons) that would pretty much eliminate the threat.

Effects were mixed
Acting was very good
Story was terrible
Dialog was good
Directing could have been better

1.75/5

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