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Last Days on Mars, The


Stars: Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Goran Kostic, Johnny Harris, Tom Cullen, Yusra Warsama, Olivia Williams

Director: Ruairi Robinson

What do such recent somewhat overrated niche movies as Under the Skin and The Double, as well as now Oscar-winning director Steve McQueen’s art-porn drama Shame have in common?

The answer?

They all were awarded National Lottery cash to help them reach the screen. Which means in effect that anyone who buys a lottery ticket has already paid for such films, whether or not they ever actually see them.

Nice work if you can get it.

So praise is due to the producers of this derivative and less-than-compelling science fiction film for obtaining Lottery funding from the British Film Institute for a story that might just have served for an episode of the television series Space 1999 but which struggles to fill what seemed to me to be a very long 98 minutes.

Screenwriter Clive Dawson’s adaptation of Sidney J Bound’s short story ‘The Animators’ simply doesn’t have enough meat on its bones to fill a feature film. Instead we are treated to a stale stew of themes from far better science fiction movies ranging from Alien and IT! The Terror from Beyond Space to a galaxy of zombie shockers and which loses its impact long before the predictable end.

On Mars (played by Jordan in what is possibly the best performance in the movie) the members of first Mars mission are on their final day before heading back to Earth when Goran Kostic discovers fossilized evidence of bacterial life and then disobeys orders and returns to the site for more samples.

Unfortunately Kostic becomes infected and, rescued by his colleagues, turns into a standard slavering celluloid zombie. After which we wait with the actors to see who lives and who dies…

For me the film, uninterestingly directed by first-timer Ruairi Robinson was the first to die, possibly from inhaling the tsunami of clichés rather than from bacterial infection.

It’s strictly second-feature stuff.

Indeed, The Last Days on Mars even adheres to British B film traditions by having two Hollywood character actors - Liev Schreiber and Elias Koteas - heading a British cast that features Romola Garai of Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights ‘fame’ and Olivia Williams.

For me, cast member Yusra Warsama’s (OK, I admit it, out of context) comment “This is bullsh*t” seems as good a summation as any.

Alan Frank

UK/Ireland 2013. UK Distributor: Universal. Colour.
98 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 3.

Review date: 10 Apr 2014