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Red Planet

Starring: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss
Director: Antony Hoffman
Genre: Science Fiction
Year: 2000
Rating: 1 / 5

What has happened to Val Kilmer? Once considered one of Hollywood's golden boys, Kilmer has slowly slipped from star to supporting player to also-ran. He still may have the pull to headline major studio releases, but his career is nowhere near the level it reached in the days of The Doors and Tombstone. To realize how someone could fall from such lofty heights to such empty depths, one need look no further than films like Red Planet. A man - or, at the very least, his agent - has to have better sense than to choose scripts such as this. Cursed with miniscule character development and, even worse, no semblance of a plot, Red Planet is a film best forgotten, just as I fear Kilmer's career may soon be.

In the middle of the 21st century, more than ten billion people inhabit Earth, making it horribly overcrowded and destined for destruction. Man's only hope is to look for a new home - in this case, the mysterious and neighboring red planet. After launching algae and other life forms at the planet's surface for years (in hopes of producing a livable atmosphere), man is ready to move to a new home. Unfortunately, after years of showing positive growth, the planet's surface appears to be regressing. Someone has to investigate, to determine if man's best hope is really no hope at all.

Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss) is commanding the first manned flight to the surface of Mars. Her crew, including hotshot pilot Ted Santen (Benjamin Bratt) and aloof janitor Robby Gallagher (Val Kilmer), feels a mix of wonder and trepidation, as this is the first true voyage to an unknown world. Before they even reach the surface, a freak storm does considerable damage to the vessel, forcing the majority of the crew to evacuate to the planet below. Once there, with oxygen limited and food and water scarce, the shipwrecked crew members must struggle to survive. Ever more importantly, though, they must learn what is happening to the atmosphere on Mars, for man's very future depends upon it.

Almost two thirds of the way through Antony Hoffman's wretchedly boring Red Planet, I realized that absolutely nothing had happened. A few characters pass on, but their deaths serve no real purpose. Carrie-Anne Moss, the cast's lone female, is relegated to twiddling her thumbs aboard her spaceship while her crew battles below. Terence Stamp makes one speech about the conflict between science and religion and is heard from no more. Star Val Kilmer has nothing to do, avoiding all hints of action until the film's uninspired conclusion. Red Planet epitomizes disappointment, although some might say it never could have amounted to anything anyway. Regardless, I hope the planet Mars has more substance to it than Red Planet, or space exploration is in for the shock of a lifetime.


Val Kilmer..........Robby Gallagher
Carrie-Anne Moss..........Kate Bowman
Benjamin Bratt..........Ted Santen
Tom Sizemore..........Dr. Quinn Burchenal
Simon Baker..........Chip Pettengill
Terence Stamp..........Dr. Bud Chantilas

Certification: Rated PG-13 for violence.
Running Time: 106 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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