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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
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)
© Mania.com/Robert 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.