Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Oh man… I really didn’t think John Carpenter could sink lower than 1998’s misbegotten mediocrity parade “Vampires,” but here we are. I mean, “Ghosts of Mars” is a dog of a turkey from the moment it starts: The interminable opening credits are accompanied by anonymous, distracting techno-pop music as though the movie’s intended audience is a bunch of a rolling teenagers at a ’90s rave. Then the narrative kicks in, and what’s obvious right from the get-go is that Carpenter barely bothers give the audience a reason to care, and doesn’t seem to have offered any direction to his cast: A normally-talented supporting cast is left to wander in and out of a barely-there narrative, while ostensible co-leads Pam Grier, Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge seem to be in a competition to see which one of them can give the absolute worst performance (spoiler: no matter who wins, the audience loses). Add in some truly cheap-looking sets, ugly costume design that seems ripped straight from the hottest leather fashions of the late ’80s by way of Clive Barker (which gives the movie a distinct shock-metal vibe, which is neutered by the aforementioned limp techno score), not to mention pointless, casual homophobia, and what you end up with is a movie that seems designed to please absolutely no one.

Rating: ★ (out of 5)

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