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DVD Review: The Last Days on Mars: Not great, but not bad either

The Last Days on Mars


After a number of years of being on the decline, science fiction movies are making a return to the popularity that it once had. The public is starting to fall in love with the genre in a new manner. The redefining of the genre focuses more on science fiction stories that are based on fact with a more plausible premise than those that were more about the grand bold sci-fi spectacles like Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, and Star Trek. Science fiction has become far more grounded with a firm foundation set in reality. Films like Apollo 18, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Transcendence are prime examples of how the genre has become less about science fiction and more about science fact. One of the latest examples of this new form of science fiction recently made its debut on home video not long ago.
The Last Days on Mars is a moderately entertaining intersection of sci-fi and horror. It tells the story of an 8 man mission to mars that goes awry. It’s a Luke warm thriller that uses fact based science as a premise for this off world tale. The movie debuted in limited release in theaters in December 2013 and arrived on video in March of 2014. It’s based on the short story “The Animators” by Sydney J. Bounds. The film stars Live Schreiber (Goon), Elias Koteas (Now You See Me), Olivia Williams (Hanna), Romola Garai (Atonment), Johnny Irwin (Snow White and the Huntsman), Tom Cullen (Weekend), Goran Kostic (Taken), and Yusra Warsama (My Brother The Devil).
Synopsis: In the last hours after a 6 month mission on Mars, an 8 man research team makes a historic discovery. Soon after the discovery, things rapidly take a turn for the worse.
The Last Days on Mars has the usual predictable storyline. It doesn’t do or offer much that hasn’t been seen in this type of movie. However, in spite of its overly predictable nature, the story and action are fairly decent. The film attempts to combine horror with sci-fi and in a small way it accomplishes that. However, it’s comes up really short on the scare factor. It does build a small bit of tension and anticipation but it’s very small.
The cinematography is very good. The film looks fantastic for it not to be one of the bigger budget motion pictures. The landscape of Mars and all of the equipment used by the humans is top notch.
The cast is mostly comprised of unknowns bookended by Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, and Olivia Williams. Schreiber does a really good job in the lead role. The entire cast play there parts particularly well even if none are outstanding. The film doesn’t fall into the realm of mediocrity because of their efforts.
The Last Days on Mars is a great example of the change in the science fiction genre. The film has a fact based nature that many of the modern sci-fi stories use now. It’s a sci-fi story of the purest nature. It feels just like one of the old tales of the Outer Limits or the Twilight Zone. The movie creates good tension and anticipation as it unfolds. The Last Days on Mars doesn’t do much to wow you. Most of it is very predictable and isn’t too much different than most of the extraterrestrial stories. The storyline is much the same as every other film of this nature. It’s not a great movie but it’s pretty decent. It won’t make your night or wow you. It’s more for lovers of the genre. I don’t suggest running out to buy it or breaking your neck to view it but if you come across it on cable or Netflix, then take some time as this is good enough for a one time viewing.