Starring Live Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Olivia Williams and Romola Garai
With only 19 hours left in a 6-month mission on Mars, a space crew is eager to return home. And so begins Clive Dawson’s THE LAST DAYS ON MARS. Stuck with such a small group, tensions have begun to rise between the members, each of them taking issue with one woman, Kim (Olivia Williams channeling her best Ripley from ALIEN). Things have been running smoothly so far through their journey, until one crew member, Marko (Goran Kostic), refuses an order to pack up and return to base. The ground splits open and the man falls into a deep hole. After being exposed to some sort of extraterrestrial bacteria, Marko returns, as what can only be described as a space zombie. These events are all seen from the perspective of Chief Engineer, Vincent (Liev Schreiber).
Up until this point, which is roughly half an hour in, the film is pretty solid. It showcases how the working dynamic within a small group of people changes when they are all packed in a confined space for an extended period of time. It is quite entertaining to watch everyone yell at Kim, and vice-versa. The film appears to be building strong characters, but once the focus of the film changes to the crew trying to avoid infection from the space zombies, this ceases altogether. What starts off as MOON or PROMETHEUS on Mars, turns into a poorly executed version of THE THING on Mars.
Williams is great in the film, and perhaps the only fully developed character in the bunch, but she doesn’t receive the screen time she deserves. We are left with Schrieber’s Vincent for most of the film, a cynic who typically isn’t much fun to be around. The visuals are fantastic, which highly contrasts with the audio, which is pretty terrible. It is often very difficult to hear dialogue over the films score, and it is even harder to hear the dialogue coming in over the communications systems. But I guess this doesn’t really matter because after a space zombie shows up, what does dialogue matter?
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS is not all that bad of a film. It is just an extremely frustrating one because it so obviously could have been greater than it is. Do we really need another film about a small group of people inevitably becoming infected by a virus one by one? The answer is simply, no.