"John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars"
Directed by John Carpenter.
Written by John Carpenter and Larry Sulkis.
Starring Ice Cube and Natasha Henstridge.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 8/24/01
My apologies for not sending out a review
last weekend; the embarrassing state of the movies--the worst summer
in film history--offered "American Outlaws", "Rat Race" and "Captain
Corelli's Mandolin." Blah!
So, on Friday, I took in a double bill.
First--"John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars."
Have you seen the trailer for this movie?
It looks like it will be a piece of shit, which is about half
right. Much like last year's
"Pitch Black", this B-movie has all
the goods necessary for a successful action/sci-fi film and it is
much better than you think. Which is to say, average.
Ice Cube plays James "Desolation" Williams.
Should I stop the review right there? What is even better about
Cube's character is that his nickname, "Desolation", is never
explained in the film. So, the first time two cops talk about him,
"We need to go out there and arrest
"Shit, 'Desolation' Williams? That's
the most dangerous guy on the planet!!"
I LOVE character development!
Natasha Henstridge, whose career has been in
freefall since she was the baddie in "Species", plays one of those
two cops that is bent on bringing Desolation in. Of course, the
hunt for the criminal isn't nearly as important as spouting off bad
dialogue, showing low-budget special effects shots of Mars, and the
shameless amount of death and dismemberment that takes place in this
The brief mention of a plot involves a
Martian mine colony populated by human settlers in the year 2176.
Some type of ghost--or, is it ghosts?—has possessed many of the
miners, and by going insane these demons decapitate, maim and murder
the healthy miners until all that is left are those damned crazy
people. Henstridge's character shows up with a squadron of five
Martian police officers to investigate and also to pick up the
aforementioned Desolation. Shot almost entirely in flashback, you
know in the first two minutes that almost everyone ends up dead, so
you wait 90 minutes to find out how.
But, through it all, the director (whose
best films were all made successively: "Escape from New York",
Thing", "Christine" and "Starman", with cult favorite "Big Trouble
in Little China" thrown in) shows why he has been in the business so
long: the man knows how to meet expectations. Hey, he got B-level
talent...Robert Carradine (!), Pam Grier, Jason Statham ("Snatch"),
Joanna Cassidy...for a B-level script in a B-movie thriller that has
a B-level soundtrack. And, from the trailer, you knew exactly what
you were getting. For $5, this movie fits the bill like no other.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard