Ghosts of Mars (2001) Movie Review

Rating 15
Length 1h38
Release 27.8.2021
Director Nina DaCosta
About Officer Melanie and Sergeant Jericho travel to a mining outpost to transport a prisoner. On arriving, they realise that demons of an ancient Martian civilisation have possessed the entire colony.
Moon: no moon sighting
Where to Watch: IMDB with adverts on Amazon Prime

The Good

  • I absolutely adore the metal score. Just like with any of John Carpenter’s projects, the music is perfect for the story being told.
  • What a cast! I get the feeling Natasha Henstridge was cast on the success of Species, but its amazing to see her in a role that gives her a little more to do. Her dynamic with many of the other cast: Pam Grier, Jason Statham and Clea DuVall is brilliant. However her best partnership is with Ice Cube, and it almost makes me want for a sequel just involving the two of them.
  • The set design makes this almost a spiritual sequel to Escape From New York. I’ve always loved the look of Carpenter’s work, and this is no exception.
  • I actually really enjoyed the Hammer Horror-esque narrative device of having Henstridge’s Melanie recollect the events of Shining Canyon. It is by no means perfect, but had they have kept it to just that, it might have worked.

The Bad

  • Telling this story retroactively starts to fall apart about midway through. The biggest problem being the fact that we have one survivor telling what happened. The film then delves into flashbacks and retellings within the retelling. I’ll be honest, it gets a little messy at times. I was able to keep up, but for a ‘leave your brain at the door’ sort of film, this particular part really needs your full attention to not get confused.
  • I totally get that Carpenter wanted the Martians to take on a physical change in the ‘invading’ humans. It looks great visually, it really does. However, I’d have preferred the changes to manifest themselves rather than it be seen that the possessed make the changes themselves, as it appears too fast to be logical.
  • The backstory of Ice Cube’s ‘Desolation’ doesn’t fit. There was a reputation there, a story and a long history of violence and murder. Yet, the story makes out that he’s being wrongly accused. Of this one, or all of them? I couldn’t quite make out. I do like the idea that it was originally going to be Snake. That anti-hero would have worked really well and could have been brought into this character a little more.
    I also really would have loved to have seen more of just Ice Cube and Henstridge together. That final scene was perfect and I wanted more of that.
  • The Matriarchal society didn’t come through well enough for my liking. In fact, I didn’t really get that until I read around the topic. This starting life as an ‘Escape From…’ film does make me wonder about this plot point; given that both of the previous films in the franchise still maintained Patriarchal societies. I certainly would have loved more added to the explanation.

The Ugly

  • Why do people hate on this film? I’m not sure how anyone can not see this for the film that it is; a tongue in cheek, campy and almost pantomime version of a horror. It’s genius, it’s pitch perfect and anyone who says different was looking for another The Thing and just got their feelings hurt. The Thing cannot be improved upon, it cannot be recreated. So Carpenter, most likely *knowing* this gave the audience something different.
    All we do as consumers is complain about how all Hollywood does it spit out remakes and reboots. Can you really blame them when this film got the feedback it did?!

Final Thoughts

Bloody loved it. By going in, knowing Carpenter’s intent on the project (over-the-top and tongue in cheek) did really help. It’s a blast and that soundtrack is worth it alone.

One thought on “Ghosts of Mars (2001) Movie Review”

  1. John Carpenter is one of my favorite filmmakers, and I think he gets a bad rap for the exact reasons you stated: a lot of people can’t see the humor in the campy badness. It’s easiest to spot in something like BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, when Kurt Russel, Kim Cattrall and James Hong are hamming it up every chance they can get. At any rate, I can’t believe I’ve never heard of this movie and I will definitely be watching it soon.


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