“You’ll never go home.”
In the 2040s, a Martian research base, Tantalus Base outpost, is created. The eight person crew, who have been stationed there for six months, are only nineteen hours from the completion of their research mission. The spacecraft Aurora is inbound from Earth and will collect the team by lander from a prearranged site. Mars scientist Marko Petrović has found samples that may point to life on the planet. Without revealing his discovery, he devises a ruse for one last trip on the surface. Crewmate Richard Harrington drives Petrović in a solar powered rover to the spot where he had found the sample. After he obtains soil with the biological agent present, a crack in the ground forms a gaping hole that instantly swallows Petrović.
Captain Charles Brunel and crewmate Lauren Dalby plan to explore the pit to retrieve Marko’s body. Dalby remains at the pit but disappears before the team can return with equipment. Brunel authorizes Vincent Campbell to explore the pit, and he finds a fungus-like life that grows in the fissure. Dalby and Marko reappear at the main outpost, but the Martian biological agent mutates them into fast, aggressive, zombie-like creatures with blackened skin and no trace of their original personalities. Harrington dies from a power drill attack and turns into one of them. The remaining crew hold off the zombies while Brunel and Campbell return. Brunel is fatally injured and reanimates, which provides the crew with new insight into the symptoms: thirst, memory loss, and aggression.
The bulk of the film’s middle section is taken up with fights and escapes from the zombies through the habitat modules. Eventually, mission psychologist Robert Irwin deliberately leaves scientist Kim Aldrich, who had often infuriated her crewmates, to die. Rebecca Lane is also stabbed in the leg during the frantic escape to a rover. With their rover’s power low, the survivors – Campbell, Irwin, and Lane – decide they must get to the other rover, which is at the landing site. Under the pretense of a scouting operation, Irwin steals the second rover and unsuccessfully attempts to persuade Campbell to abandon Lane, who he states is infected. Irwin meanwhile conceals evidence of his own possible infection.
While Campbell and Lane wait for the sun to rise and the solar powered batteries to recharge, they discuss the nature of the zombies, and Lane questions whether any human consciousness remains trapped in the zombies. Campbell attempts to comfort her and falls asleep. When he wakes up alone, Campbell realizes that Lane has fled into the desert, and he chases after her. Lane, who knows she is likely to turn, unsuccessfully attempts to deter Campbell from following her and, in desperation, commits suicide by removing her helmet. After she dies, Lane reanimates and begs Campbell to destroy her. Campbell reluctantly complies by bashing her head in with a rock.
Firstly, the visual effects looked pretty great (I love realistic looking space-related environments) and as if it was a higher budget film. But, this film was severely disappointing. The movie seemed to have an interesting premise but was clearly rushed. Its characters are too underdeveloped and there’s plot holes that are hard to ignore. The infected are supposed to be intelligent and even blow open an airlock, but even they can’t save this film from falling flat.
It’s obvious that these people have been together for an extensive period of time and are bonded somehow but it’s not explained why or how – for example when Marko Petrović falls down the giant hole, the second in command Lauren Dalby comes along and is absolutely devastated (way more devastated than anyone else), did they have some kind of romantic attachment? Who knows!
Additionally, one of the main points is that Campbell is saved from ejecting himself out the airlock by Lane and that explains their friendship in a few very short scenes, but my question is, were these crew members ever psychologically tested? The event happens during his 6 month journey from Earth to Mars so he hasn’t even landed yet. Why would you become an astronaut and travel to Mars if being confined inside a pod for 6 months hurtling through space would cause you to go insane enough to commit suicide? Surely you’re not the man for the job…
Another criticism is the disposal of Kim. Kim is a disliked crew member, they show her being honest and upsetting the other crew members (when she wasn’t wrong with her opinions) and apparently that means it’s okay to just suddenly leave her behind to be murdered by the infected crew. I thought for sure it would be one of those moments where you think she’s dead and she comes back in a blaze of glory, but no, that’s just the end of her. It’s just disappointing and stupid.
Finally, the way they walk on Mars is incorrect, the gravity is a third of Earth’s so it should be similar to being on the moon but they walk around completely normal.
The film wasn’t that bad but there just wasn’t much to it, and there’s a million ways I could think to improve it.
Last Days On Mars