Red Planet

By Mark Ramsey | 2000/11/10

“The hope for survival of mankind depends on us,” says Carrie-Anne Moss, and only a mankind who can’t find the punch holes on an election ballot would pin their hopes for survival on these sorry spacemen.

There’s much joviality about this spaceship – it’s like Friends in space. But Carrie-Anne is Phoebe, Rachel, and Monica all rolled into one steaming shower scene and a peek-a-boo tee.


With that star-making hit The Matrix under her belt, Carrie-Anne now seems committed to showing us the rest of what’s under her belt as she traverses that perilous career course from Sigourney Weaver-town to Brigitte Nielsen-ville.

You see, we’ve overpopulated, polluted, and poisoned Earth by 2025 so it’s time to repeat the cycle somewhere else. Somewhere besides the moon, of course, which is entirely too close and convenient.

What gives!? This is no Red Planet; it’s really more of an Amber Planet! Can’t you boys in FX get anything right?

So our “heroes” (God help us) reach the Amber Planet after a slingshot around the orbiting moons of Tiffani and Thiessen. And I don’t need to tell you those moons are worth orbiting.

The ship suffers a gamma blast of beta hydroxy, which blows out all the systems but at least removes unsightly blemishes. Suddenly it’s time to head down to Mars the hard way.

Fortunately the geniuses at Movie-NASA created a landing craft designed to bounce into gorges and across pointy rocks for about five miles before settling down. There’s an idea!

Enter the Secretary General of over-the-top, Terence Stamp, who drones in metaphysical parables and seems to be reading his lines off Val Kilmer’s forehead – which is easy since the lines were originally written in crayon. If Terry really bought all that Zen philosophical stuff he spouts he’d be home tending his rock garden instead of wrapping himself in a space suit that makes his crew look like a roller derby on riot patrol.


There’s no launch countdown in this movie because the audience is too busy counting down to the true climactic moment: the inevitable utterance of the phrase “This is no time for misguided heroics.”

So Klaatu Kilmer and the boys set out to find the emerald space colony of Oz only to get entranced by a magical field of algae poppies and a supporting cast of animated bugs. Where’s that Diazinon when you need it?

Check out all those logo tags on Kilmer’s space suit: Toshiba, GM, Hughes, Nokia…. He’s got enough ornaments on his hood, someone should climb on his back and race him off-road in Baja.

The biggest laugh-attraction in this movie is the team’s bonkers killer robot, AMEE. AMEE is a digi-dog, a cyber-mutt, a binary pooch, who is programmed with more martial arts moves than Cameron Diaz on the same erector set frame. In case it ain’t obvious, AMEE is all cartoon. No surprise then that Warners suits are planning a new Saturday morning WB show teaming AMEE with Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner. Now if AMEE would drop a big black anvil on Val Kilmer’s head – I’d pay to see THAT!

Why do you FX boys make these damn animated robots move so smoothly?? Humans don’t move that smoothly, why would machines? Listen, you animators, don’t make me come down there!

The fundamental problem in this movie is that there’s not much going on on Mars. Hey, we call it the “red planet” not the “rad planet.” If ever there was a desert wasteland in need of a big casino, this is it.

In the meantime, Amber Planet is lost in space.

Photos Copyright ©2000 Warner Bros.


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