Ghosts of Mars is one of those dumb but highly entertaining science fiction movies of the early aughts. The story is as preposterous as they come but at least it’s set on another planet. Space escapism is a thing and sometimes you just want to watch something that has nothing to do with Earth. This movie was also a sign that one of my favorite directors, John Carpenter might be ready for retirement. Something that became obvious with his next movie, The Ward.
However, this doesn’t mean that Ghosts of Mars is a bad or boring movie. It does take a bit of time to get going but once it does it doesn’t fucking stop. Additionally, it’s got that trademark Carpenter atmosphere. This was supposed to be the third Snake Plissken movie, Escape from Mars. But after Escape From L.A. didn’t do so well they reworked it into a stand-alone movie. Next thing you know and the studios are demanding Ice Cube to be cast in a lead role and here we are.
Speaking of the cast, it’s actually pretty solid. We’ve got Natasha Henstridge, Jason Statham and Pam motherfucking Grier, what more to want? They were intentionally trying to make a tongue-in-cheek movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think that the camerawork could’ve been better but at least the action sequences and special effects stood the test of time. Ghosts of Mars also has that cool, underground B movie vibe.
It is the year of our lord Satan 2176 and humans have almost completely terraformed the surface of Mars. With a population of around 80.000 colonists, it’s no longer the desolate planet that it once was. They’re mostly miners and James ‘Desolation’ Williams is one of them. He’s currently in the jail located in a remote mining outpost so Lieutenant Melanie Ballard and Sgt Jericho Butler must transport him to the main city of Chryse. However, what’s going to happen during this transport is going to surprise them all.
The main plot of this movie reminded me of another early aughts science fiction classic Pitch Black starring Vin Diesel. It also features a group of survivors, including a prisoner, trying to survive wave after wave of attacks. The creatures here look like they play in a black metal band but they’re scary enough I guess. I remember watching Dark Funeral back in 2008 and they looked like they were straight out of this movie.
So, the creatures are humans transforming into these grotesque monsters under a strange and perhaps demonic influence. Just think Event Horizon and you’ll know what I mean. And while we’re on this subject, do take a look at Pandorum and Infini. In the end, there’s not much more left to say about Ghosts of Mars. It certainly doesn’t deserve the current 4.9 score on IMDb as it’s just too damn entertaining.