Red Planet (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Antony Hoffman|
|Produced by||Bruce Berman
|Written by||Chuck Pfarrer
|Music by||Graeme Revell|
|Editing by||Robert K. Lambert
|Studio||Village Roadshow Pictures|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||106 minutes|
In 2056 AD, Earth is in ecologic crisis as a consequence of pollution and overpopulation. Automated interplanetary missions have been seeding Mars with atmosphere-producing algae as the first stage of terraforming the planet. When the oxygen quantity produced by the algae is inexplicably reduced, the crew of Mars-1 investigate; a crew consisting of Quinn Burchenal (Tom Sizemore), an agnostic geneticist, Bud Chantillas (Terence Stamp), an aging philosophical scientist and surgeon, systems engineer Robby Gallagher (Val Kilmer), commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss), pilot Ted Santen (Benjamin Bratt), and terraforming scientist Chip Pettengill (Simon Baker).
When Mars 1 is damaged in arrival, Bowman remains aboard for repair while the others land to locate an automated habitat established earlier to manufacture food and oxygen. During insertion, the team's landing craft is damaged and crash-lands off-course. In the aftermath, "AMEE" (Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion), a military robot programmed to guide them, is lost, and Chantillas suffers a ruptured spleen and internal bleeding and is left to die in peace by the remainder of the team. In orbit around Mars, Bowman contacts Earth, which informs her that Mars-1 is in decaying orbit, but offers hope of restoring engine function in exiting Mars.
On Mars, the landing party find the automated habitat destroyed, and expect their own deaths by suffocation. Pettengill and Santen wander from the others to explore, later to reach a canyon where Santen is accidentally killed by Pettengill, after they get into a fight over whether or not the mission was a failure. Pettengill returns to Burchenal and Gallagher. His oxygen depleted, Gallagher opens his helmet, choosing a quick death over asphyxiation - and discovers that Mars' atmosphere is thin but breathable. AMEE reunites with the crew, and the three astronauts notice the robot is damaged and attempt to reserve power for her guidance device. Perceiving their actions as a threat, AMEE cripples Burchenal and pursues the others.
Eventually, Gallagher builds a makeshift radio from parts of the Mars Rover 'Pathfinder', through which Bowman instructs them to use a Russian probe's sample-return system to launch themselves into orbit. During the trip, Bowman tells Gallagher that the probe can hold only two people. Devastated by the recent news and afraid of being left behind, Pettengill flees with the radio, only to be killed by AMEE. Pettengill's corpse then becomes infested by insect-like creatures identified by Burchenal as "nematodes" and discovered to be flammable. Later, the crew encounter a field of algae, which Burchenal reveals that the insects are native Martian life, dormant until the algal growth, which consume the algae and excrete oxygen, and identifies them as a means of terraforming Mars. Burchenal is attacked when blood drips from an open wound, and passes his sample insects to Gallagher before immolating himself and his attackers. Gallagher reaches the Russian probe, finds sufficient fuel to power the rocket's engine, but not enough electrical power to launch the probe; and having caught and disabled AMEE, uses her power-source instead. He is then recovered by Bowman. It is later revealed that their mission has successfully restored Earth. Bowman and Gallagher start a romantic relationship at the end.
- Val Kilmer as Robby Gallagher
- Carrie-Anne Moss as Cmdr. Kate Bowman
- Tom Sizemore as Dr. Quinn Burchenal
- Benjamin Bratt as Lt. Ted Santen
- Simon Baker as Chip Pettengill
- Terence Stamp as Dr. Bud Chantilas
- Neil Ross as Space Suit (voice) (uncredited)
Box office 
Red Planet opened at #5 at the North American box office making $8.7 million USD in its opening weekend. The film was a box office bomb, grossing $33 million worldwide against an estimated budget of $80 million.
Critical response 
The film received negative reviews, with only a 14% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 100 reviews. Stephen Holden's review in the New York Times was almost entirely negative, calling the film "a leaden, skimpily plotted space-age Outward Bound adventure with vague allegorical aspirations that remain entirely unrealized."
During a conversation between Burchenal and Gallagher, Burchenal mistakenly lists the 4 letters of genetic code as A, G, T, and P. The correct letters are A, G, T, and C. Burchenal also calls the Martian insects "nematodes", which are microscopic unsegmented worms rather than the beetle-like omnivorous insects of the film.
Due to significant scientific inaccuracies, NASA refused to serve as a scientific adviser for the film. "The science was just so off the wall that eventually we felt, 'You guys go ahead and make your movie.' If there's something that's going to be so misleading to the public that we don't want to participate, then we'll say no," said Bert Ulrich, a NASA spokesperson, adding: "The big thing is, we want to make sure we're not misleading the public completely."
- Red Planet (2000)
- Rotten Tomatoes.com page for Red Planet
- "Red Planet: Finding the Terra Not So Firma on Mars," Stephen Holden, New York Times, 10 November 2000
- http://www.dailyscript.com/scripts/red_planet.pdf | pg. 56
- Rebecca Keegan (1 September 2011). "NASA reaches its outer limit". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 1 September 2011.