Ghosts of Mars (2001), Cert 15.

Director - John Carpenter.

Writers - John Carpenter & Larry Sulkis.

Starring - Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham & Pam Grier.


Premise - Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) is the lone survivor found on a train on the newly terraformed surface of Mars. When she awakens she tells her story of how she and her unit were sent to collect accused murderer James Williams (Ice Cube) from a remote mining colony, only to find the inhabitants murdered. What killed the miners and what happened to the rest of her unit?

What do Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham and Ice Cube all have in common? Well, first they are all terrible actors or actresses. Second they all star in Ghost of Mars, which also happens to be a terrible film.

The only capable actor in the film is Jackie Brown star Pam Grier. That her screen time is criminally short and bogged down with ludicrous dialogue is indicative of what to expect with the rest of the film.

Ice Cube has been handed the role of the hard man anti-hero that Vin Diesel made popular with the recent 'Pitch Black'. To say that Cube isn't fit to breathe the same air as Diesel is an understatement. He convinces as neither a hard man nor an anti-hero and mumbles his way through the terrible lines that are thrown his way.

Jason Statham is a complete enigma to me. He showed in the likes of 'Lock, Stock & 2 Smoking Barrels' and 'Snatch' that he is at best, an average actor. Quite how he's managed to move to Hollywood and get roles in sizeable films is beyond me. He mumbles (a running theme in this film it would seem), has a really bad American accent and displays zero charisma as the leading man he is clearly supposed to be. I would say however that he does makes a decent stab of the action/fight scenes, enough to convince the makers of 'The One' and 'The transporter' that he as at least some potential.

Natasha Henstridge looks great, but we saw the goods in the risible 'Species' so what can she bring to a movie besides good looks? Not much, her character is a hard, military type with a drug habit. Hesntridge is completely miscast here as she is entirely too good looking, too clean and too flimsy to convince as any of these things. The rest of the cast are as forgettable as the leads and serve as cannon fodder with a smattering of action/sci-fi clichés sprinkled liberally between them.

I've mentioned the laughable script a couple of times previously, but nothing can prepare you for the clumsy and unintentionally funny dialogue that afflicts this travesty of a movie. The actors genuinely look embarrassed to be spouting hackneyed lines like 'Let’s kick some ass' and 'I want you to be bad hombres'. The writers clearly watched the likes of 'Aliens' and thought, 'we'll have some of that.'.

The story is as ludicrous as sci-fi will allow. Ghosts lie dormant on Mars until they are dug up; they take over humans and go on a killing spree. Thing is, if the human host dies the ghost just moves on to another human. So why do our heroes keep killing the human hosts? It just means the ghost escapes and moves to another host, most likely one of our good guys. Also, these ghosts may be the crappest ghosts in the history of cinema. They have a weakness, they can't go through solid objects, right........ So we end up with the good guys holed up in the mining camps police station with hundreds of possessed killers banging on the door. A kind of Martian 'Assault on Precinct Thirteen'.

Which is probably what co-writer/director John Carpenter was hoping to make. Carpenter made Assault on Precinct 13 (which is excellent) and was clearly trying to catch lightning in a bottle twice. That he fails miserably to even come close to 'Precinct 13' is just another nail in the coffin on this once great movie maker’s career. Can the man who made the likes of The Thing, Halloween, The Fog and Big Trouble in Little China really have made this awful, awful move? Yes, but it comes as little surprise as Carpenter has been on a downslide since the late 80's, perhaps he should just retire and save himself further embarrassment.

There is very little about this film that makes it worth recommending. The acting is terrible, the direction is workman like with no innovation or sense of style, the script is laughable, the story has more holes than a block of Swiss cheese and the special effects aren’t very special. The make-up looks like make-up, the sets look like sets and the miniatures look like miniatures.

Ghosts of Mars is just a terrible movie watching experience, with one or two laughs saving it from the ultimate embarrassment of getting 1/10. Pray to whatever God you believe in that the sequel which is blatantly hinted to in the final scene never comes to pass.



See Ghost of Mars if you enjoy - Cruel and unusual torture.

Poster Quote - Exorcise it NOW!