There’s something intimidating about Mars. The nearest neighbour to earth has been home to some bloodthirsty customers in the past. And as we probe for secrets today, there’s still a nagging suspicion about just what we might uncover. In 2001, imaging what happened if these fears were realised, famed horror/action director John Carpenter gave us a sinister look at the surface of the red planet in Ghost of Mars.
In the future, prison officer Lt. Melanie Ballard must escort James ‘Desolation’ Williams to jail, travelling to a sleepy mining town serving as a pickup point. She soon discovers that the village is maybe a little less quiet than she first imagined. Unearthed spirits have plagued the mining town turning the citizens into murderous monstrosities. It now turns to her and a pocketful of survivors to return these ghosts to the ground.
Less than a minute in and you’re straight into the action, with a classic thumping soundtrack from Carpenter himself, along with the director’s signature love of action and style, you’re in for a thrill ride. A lot can be said for Henstridge here. She herself is no rookie to the pulp sci-fi scene, but she’s strong, fearless, and kicks ass like the best of them. Ice Cube also commits himself to playing the unlucky prisoner, the charisma and coolness that Ice Cube instils in his characters are also on form here. Making an appearance also is action star Jason Statham who manages to provide the quintessential action star archetype and proves why he’s so good at providing the quintessential action star archetype.
The design of the villains is interesting as they these monstrous humanoids that look like they’re a cross between the Yautja and a heavy metal band. The mining town itself also looks pretty eerie but at the same time retaining its functionality, and coolness as a location. The society of Mars is also a woman-led military republic type system. An interesting choice, that doesn’t feel as explored ground as it should in Sci-Fi. It doesn’t factor too much, but at the same time it is an impressive bit of world-building.
There’s a lot to like about Ghosts of Mars. It’s a kick ass look at a Mars gone mad, essentially what happened if John Carpenter took on Doom. With all the expected style that comes with a Carpenter production, cool soundtrack, lots of action etc. The story is fun too, with Henstridge, Ice Cube et al. being in their element. Combined, the Ghosts of Mars is a fun action film that will haunt you long after you finish watching.
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