MOVIE REVIEW: ‘The Last Days On Mars’


Film: The Last Days On Mars
Starring: Liev Schreiber
Directed by: Ruairi Robinson

Between Gravity and Europa Report 2013 has been a banner year for movies about space travel. We’ve seen a slew of new ideas presented on screen in films both critics and audiences adored, which in turn sparked a new demand for movies about the experience of life outside our atmosphere. Now a third entry comes to us by way of Magnet Releasing, and though it has a lot to live up to The Last Days On Mars delivers an experience that is unlike anything we’ve seen before.

It’s the last day of a six-month stay on mars (that was preceded by six months of deep space travel) and for the most part the team of astronauts at the center of The Last Days On Mars just want to go home. They’ve spent too much time together and found too few discoveries to feel like the time with family sacrificed for their expedition was necessary worth the cost. There are only nineteen hours left to go until their transport arrives and they only have to keep things running until then, but a last minute discovery from their daily soil samples turns the day upside down. With sunlight fading the team decides to return to the area the sample was taken from for additional testing. An accident occurs, people go missing, and soon the team’s remaining hours turn into a fight for survival that threatens the continued existence of all mankind.

There are a lot of ideas at play in The Last Days On Mars, and for the most part director Ruairi Robinson does a good job of balancing everything well enough to deliver a coherent story. Still, as many short stories turned features tend to do the film cannot help dragging out transitional sequences in hopes of thickening otherwise thin character development. This takes the place of actual science, which is something the film tries to avoid at all costs (the lab is the first place to go when all hell breaks loose), and ultimately weighs down what should be a thrilling science fiction adventure with needless dialogue.

Without giving away the film’s main twist it’s hard to get into the evil that awaits on Mars, but as I mentioned above the film itself does little to explain what exactly is going on. Instead, there is a side story involving a character named Vincent (Liev Schreiber) and his anxiety about the trip back home. The idea of being adrift in space for six months hoping the equipment on board doesn’t give out haunts him to the point of distraction, and as the body count rises the isolation of it all eats away at his ability to help the others. It’s a great mental challenge for a character like his to overcome, but Robinson does a film school level job of executing his hallucinations. Visions of the ship plague Schreiber, which is a welcomed change to sequences where his character is in dark rooms, but the style in which it is edited together lacks that inherent ‘it’ factor that makes such nightmares compelling on screen.

Last Days On Mars is an interesting space adventure that offers creative new ideas and solid acting, but it is hard to shake the notion it could have been executed much better with someone else at the helm. Ruairi Robinson has plenty of skill with short films, but I am not convinced he’s capable of maintaining the sense of suspense needed for features like this to succeed. As a result, Last Days end up falling short of its potential while still coming out better than most. Watch it, but don’t expect to be completely blown away.

Score: C

Review written by: James Shotwell (follow him on Twitter)

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Pretty cool film, reminded me of the first Alien from 1979