were gypped out of those long promised canals, but there might just be some
form of bacterial life on the Angry Red Planet.
Of course, that turns out to be a very bad thing in Ruairí Robinson’s The Last Days on Mars (trailer here), which opens
this Friday in New York.
first manned mission to Mars is about to head home, destined more for footnote
status rather than lasting fame. However, at the eleventh hour, the ambitious
Marco Petrovich thinks he may have unearthed the brass ring—bacterial life. Unfortunately, a freak accident causes his death
and leads to the apparent disappearance of another crew member. Yet much to
everyone’s surprise, Petrovich and his colleague return to base a short time
later. Of course, they are not really
alive—they are undead and spreading their infection the way zombies do.
to hold out until the scheduled arrival of their transport ship, the crew of
the Tantalus Base applies their scientific expertise to the contagion, but it
turns out to be a distinctly slippery biological agent. Human nature also takes an ugly turn as the
so first contact is kind of rough.
Zombies on Mars might sound distinctly pulpy, but Robinson’s
distinguished cast sells it with conviction.
Liev Schreiber brings instant credibility as the grizzled but
psychologically damaged chief engineer Vincent Campbell. Likewise, Romola Garai classes up the
proceedings as his medic lover, Rebecca Lane.
Johnny Harris (from BBC America’s The Fades) has a natural talent for getting all panicky and twitchy
on-screen. Still, Olivia Williams
overwhelms them all as the unrepentantly undiplomatic senior science officer,
a sense, Last Days is the more
stylish and competent version of Roger Christian’s klutzy B-movie, Stranded. Both achieve an effectively claustrophobic
vibe, but the former is a vastly more polished package overall. Cinematographer Robbie Ryan (probably best
known for his work with Andrea Arnold) gives everything an appropriately dark,
crimson-hued look, while production designer Jon Henson’s team creates a
convincing near future, other worldly environment.
Day’s thematic predecessors
are many in number and vary considerably in quality. Nevertheless, the combination of Mars,
zombies, and some first class British characters actors guarantees a certain
level of genre entertainment. What screenwriter
Clive Dawson’s adaptation of Sydney J. Bounds’ short story lacks in originality
is largely made up for through Robinson’s slick execution. Recommended for horror flavored science
fiction (and vice versa), Last Days on
Mars opens this Friday (12/6) in New York at the Landmark Sunshine.
Labels: Liev Schreiber, Sci-Fi films, Zombies