Ghosts of Mars Blu-ray Review -

Blu-ray Review

Mania Grade: D

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  • Blu-Ray: Ghost of Mars
  • Rating: R
  • Starring: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Robert Carradine, Joanna Cassidy, Duane Davis, Pam Grier, Rosemary Forsyth, Jason Statham, Richard Cetrone
  • Written By: John Carpenter, Larry Sulkis
  • Directed By: John Carpenter
  • Distributor: Sony Pictures
  • Original Year of Release: 2001(Theatrical), 2009(Blu-Ray)
  • Extras: Commentary, Trailers, Video Diaries, The Music Behind the Movie, Special Effects Deconstruction
  • Series:

Ghosts of Mars Blu-ray Review

Carpenter's Biggest P.O.S. (his words)

By Robert T. Trate     March 30, 2009
Source: Columnist and Critic

Richard Cetrone as Big Daddy Mars in Ghosts of Mars (2009)
© Trate


John Carpenter revisited some very familiar ground in 2001 with his film the Ghosts of Mars. Familiar in the respect it is a science fiction update of his second film Assault on Precinct 13 (1976). According to Carpenter that film was nothing more than a remake of Howard Hawks’ El Dorado(1966). The characters are similar as is the plot. Basically the good guys are in over their heads and have to team up with the bad guys because there is somebody worse after all of them. Don’t get me wrong, heels teaming up with heroes is always fun and always makes for some good tension. Ghosts of Mars starts off on the right foot but just when the action kicks in it becomes cliché after cliché.
Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) is the soul survivor of a prisoner transfer that went horribly wrong and resulted in the destruction of an entire town on Mars. Ballard sits at inquiry and she spins the tale of how her entire squad went down and why their prisoner 'Desolation' Williams (Ice Cube) is still at large. We learn that her squad and Desolation’s gang teamed up to fight a town of diseased crazed miners.
The plot unravels itself in a rather pedestrian like manner and let’s face it, anyone watching a movie like this doesn’t really want to think too much. The stakes get higher and higher as people start to die and we see that the line between convict and cop isn’t all that different. It’s a survival movie and you are right there with all of them until the tide changes and Cube’s Desolation takes over. Ballard’s calculating moves keep everyone alive but when the chips are down Desolation gets everyone killed. This would work if the character and the plot were written his way. They aren’t. Desolation is cool, calculating and methodical and it is totally against character as he charges head first, guns blazing. It is the first of many stupid acts that spin this film further down into the toilet.
Jason Statham co-stars in the film, in one of his first leading roles, and is brilliant but plays second fiddle to Cube and Henstridge who were both bigger stars at the time. Originally Statham was to play Desolation. Who knows, this casting switch is what probably doomed the film. Other casting changes are revealed in the commentary with director John Carpenter and Natasha Henstridge. Henstridge came onto the film a week before filming started and replaced Courtney Love.
Any film can be made or broke solely on the dialogue. When the Desolation takes over the dialogue quickly becomes bad one liners and super hero catch phrases. This allows us to lose our suspension of disbelief as we are roll our eyes. Carpenter, who Henstridge calls a control freak on the commentary openly, admits that the liners are corny and that the actors made several up on the spot. Ironically the commentary on Ghosts of Mars also has Henstridge quoting Carpenter saying, while filming, this was the biggest piece of shit he ever made. Well at least he knew it then and now we do to.
This is the first release for the film on Blu-ray. It is in 1080p High Definition and at 2.40:1. The audio is in TrueHD 5.1. This quality enabled the film to look and sound better but despite the fact that the miniatures looked real and the New Mexican desert looked like Mars the film is still a dud.
Outside of Jason Statham’s early action hero performance the whole film is a waste of time. If you are a big fan of Statham watch it for as long as he is in it. The special features are run of the mill but it is Carpenter and Henstridge’s commentary which is the highlight. This disc is all the proof you need to see why the man who brought us has Halloween (1978) as fallen so far.


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jedi4sshield 3/30/2009 12:12:11 PM

This movie had so much potential. The title alone may give you an idea what this movie could have been about. Instead it was a major let down. Flippety Flop. The acting, the villain all crap.  I was absolutely dissapointed. One good thing though I didnt see this in the movies which was great. :  )   Sorry Mr. Carpenter I wasnt with you on this one. Nor am I with ya on the Blue-ray either. Sorry better THING next time!

SONYMANswallows 3/30/2009 3:08:43 PM

Yeah I saw it opening day. The models ans sets were good but it was chessy at times.

Most of the soundtrack was ANTHRAX Voume 8:THE THREAT IS REAL-an awesome album but all that was done for the soundtrack was remove the vocals and remix a few song parts.  Steve Vai was on it as ell but they Enemaman in the TV spots but thank evolution not on the soundtrack. Marshall probably wanted to much money.

darkheart00 3/30/2009 4:26:32 PM

 If you look up "train wreck" in the dictionary.........well you see where I'm going with that. 

mckracken 3/30/2009 7:56:12 PM

Carpenter seems to be on his do "one GOOD movie, two BAD movies" thing. but theres a huge gap in his resume between 2001 and 2005 where he didnt direct anything.

he did in the Mouth of Madness (GOOD) followed by Village of the damned (aweful) and Escape form LA(regrettable) and then My fav Vampire$ followed by Ghosts of Mars (dreadful) but then he redeemed himself with Masters of Horror Cigarette Burns (AMAZING! This should have been a full theatrical movie!) and to date I havent seen Pro-Life yet so i cant comment.

Carpenter is no stranger to the suck fest with Memoirs of an Invisible Man, They Live and Dark Star to his credit.

themovielord 3/30/2009 9:10:31 PM

mcKracken, Vampires was an even bigger pos for Carpenter. Stay away from Pro-life unless you want to see a man in a ginat rubber devil suit and a crab baby. OMG completely terrible. How can you not like They Live??

At least we agree on Mouth of Madness...

darkheart00 3/30/2009 10:11:25 PM

"They Live" is a POS. It's a fantastic, fun, guilty pleasure POS but still it's a POS.........although, it did give us one of the best movie quotes of all time.

"I have come here to chew bubble gum and kick ass . . . and I'm all out of bubble gum." 

"In The Mouth of Madness" on the other hand, is one of Carpenter's finest pieces of work. Very complex and confusing at times but alot of fun to watch.




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