Red Planet (film)

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Red Planet
Theatrical release poster
Directed byAntony Hoffman
Screenplay by
Story byChuck Pfarrer
Produced by
CinematographyPeter Suschitzky
Edited by
  • Robert K. Lambert
  • Dallas Puett
Music byGraeme Revell
Distributed by
Release date
  • 10 November 2000 (2000-11-10)
Running time
106 minutes
  • United States
  • Australia
Budget$80 million[1]
Box office$33.5 million[1]

Red Planet is a 2000 science fiction action film directed by Antony Hoffman.[2][3][4] The film stars Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Tom Sizemore.

Red Planet was released in the United States on 10 November 2000. The film was a critical and commercial failure and is Hoffman's only feature film to date.


In 2057, pollution and overpopulation have caused an ecological crisis on Earth. As part of the first stage of terraforming, automated interplanetary missions seeded Mars with atmosphere-producing algae. The crew of Mars-1, consisting of Quinn Burchenal, Bud Chantilas, Robby Gallagher, Kate Bowman, pilot Ted Santen, and Chip Pettengill, is dispatched to investigate after the oxygen produced by the algae mysteriously decreases.

A gamma-ray burst damages "Mars-1" upon arrival. Bowman remains on board for repairs, while the others land in search of an automated habitat (HAB 1) to produce food and oxygen. The team's landing craft gets damaged during entry and lands in the wrong place. "AMEE," a military robot programmed to guide them, is lost, and Chantilas sustains a severe injury, so the crew departs to allow him to pass away in peace. Bowman talks to Houston while in orbit around Mars. Houston tells her that "Mars-1" is in a decaying orbit, but there is hope that the engines can be fixed so they can leave Mars.

The landing party discovers HAB 1 destroyed, despite the fact that the module was field-tested in Tornado Alley to withstand storms on Mars. Pettengill and Santen separate from the others to explore, reaching a canyon where they argue. Pettengill kills Santen by accident, then returns to Burchenal and Gallagher and informs them that Santen committed suicide. Gallagher opens his helmet, preferring death over asphyxiation, but discovers that Mars' atmosphere is breathable.

The only salvageable material from the habitat is the liquid fuel, which has ruptured and pooled beneath the wreck. With no remaining power in their suits, the astronauts light it on fire so they have a bonfire to survive the Martian night's massive temperature drop. AMEE rejoins the crew, and the three astronauts notice that the robot is damaged and attempt to shut it down in order to recover its guidance device. AMEE wounds Burchenal and pursues the others before fleeing, perceiving their actions as a threat. Gallagher informs the others that she has entered military mode and plans to kill them all one by one. She wounded Burchenal rather than killing him because she was trained that a wounded man slows the enemy.

Gallagher builds a 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. The trio seeks refuge from an ice storm inside a cave. Pettengill flees with the radio, only to be killed by AMEE. After the storm passes, Gallagher and Burchenal recover Pettingill's radio from his body and discover that it has become infested with insect-like native Martian life (identified by Burchenal as "nematodes"). The insects are highly flammable. Later, the two come across a field of algae being eaten by insects, and Burchenal figures out what happened: The Martian insects had lain dormant on their nearly dead world, but when Earth's probes spread algae fields across Mars, it provided them with a new food source, resulting in a population explosion. The Martian insects are responsible for the algae's demise, but in the process, they provided Mars with breathable oxygen levels because they produce oxygen as a waste product.

Burchenal explains to Gallagher that the biochemistry of alien insects' respiratory metabolism is capable of producing oxygen far more efficiently than human science can. Studying the insects' biochemistry is the key to terraforming Mars and may lead to discoveries that will allow Earth's polluted atmosphere to be repaired. Burchenal is attacked by the insects when blood drips from an open wound. Rather than be eaten alive, he passes his sample vial of insects to Gallagher before immolating himself and his attackers.

Gallagher arrives at the Russian probe, discovers that there is not enough electrical power to launch the probe, and realizes that AMEE's power core is the only available replacement. Gallagher lures AMEE into a trap and disabled her using one of the probe's sample launchers, then steals her battery. He launches himself in the probe's sample-return capsule and travels to orbit, where he is recovered and revived by Bowman. With a six-month return trip to Earth, the computer has time to analyze the insects, and Bowman and Gallagher have time to start dating.



The production of the film (which was filmed in Wadi Rum in Southern Jordan and in Outback Australia) was the subject of numerous reports about the bad working relationship between co-stars Tom Sizemore and Val Kilmer. Kilmer's reputation for being "difficult" was already well-established, and although the two stars had been friends, they fell out after Kilmer reportedly became enraged when he discovered that production had paid for Sizemore's exercise machine to be shipped to the set. Kilmer shouted, "I’m making ten million on this; you’re only making two", to which Sizemore responded by throwing a 50-pound (23 kg) weight at Kilmer. The two were soon refusing to speak to each other or even come onto the set if the other was present, necessitating the use of body doubles to shoot scenes involving both actors, and their relationship became so bad that one of the producers is said to have asked Sizemore not to hit Kilmer in the face when the big fight finally happened – in the event, Sizemore purposely punched Kilmer in the chest.[5] Sizemore has since described the film as one of his career regrets, but also stated that he and Kilmer have since reconciled.[6]


Box office[edit]

Red Planet opened at No. 5 at the North American box office behind Charlie's Angels, Little Nicky, Men of Honor and Meet the Parents, making $8.7 million USD in its opening weekend.[7] The film was a box-office bomb, grossing $33 million worldwide against an estimated budget of $80 million.[8]

Critical response[edit]

Red Planet received negative reviews. As of June 2021, the film holds a 14% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 103 reviews, with an average rating of 3.90/10. The site's consensus states: "While the special effects are impressive, the movie suffers from a lack of energy and interesting characters."[9] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 34% based on reviews from 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[10] Audiences surveyed by CinemaScore gave the film a grade C on scale of A to F.[11]

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."[12]

In his review Roger Ebert said it "would have been a great 1950s science fiction film" and that "like in 1950s sci-fi, the story's strong point isn't psychological depth or complex relationships, but brainy scientists trying to think their way out of a box that grows smaller every minute."[13]


The music for Red Planet was composed by Graeme Revell, Peter Gabriel, Sting, Kipper, Joe Frank, William Orbit, Rico Conning and Melissa Kaplan with performances from Graeme Revell, Peter Gabriel, Emma Shapplin, Sting, William Orbit, Melissa Kaplan and Different Gear vs. Police.[citation needed]

Red Planet: Music from the Original Motion Picture
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
GenreAlternative rock, House, 21st-century classical music, Ambient, Downtempo, Experimental, Industrial rock
1."The Tower That Ate People"Peter GabrielPeter Gabriel4:05
2."The Inferno"Graeme RevellEmma Shapplin4:31
3."A Thousand Years"Sting, KipperSting5:57
4."Mars Red Planet"RevellGraeme Revell3:25
5."The Fifth Heaven"RevellEmma Shapplin4:53
6."MontokPoint"William Orbit, Rico Conning, Joe FrankStrange Cargo7:13
7."Canto XXX"RevellEmma Shapplin5:11
8."Alone"RevellGraeme Revell2:13
9."Dante's Eternal Flame"Revell, Melissa KaplanMelissa Kaplan and Graeme Revell3:40
10."Crash Landing"RevellGraeme Revell5:13
11."The Tower That Ate People (Remix)"GabrielPeter Gabriel6:27
12."When The World Is Running Down (You Can't Go Wrong)"StingDifferent Gear vs The Police3:35
Total length:56:27

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Red Planet (2000) - Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Red Planet (2000)". American Film Institute.
  3. ^ "BBC - Films - Review - Red Planet". BBC Online.
  4. ^ "Red Planet". A destroyed habitat, a rogue robot programmed to kill, ferocious man-eating insects and treacherous environmental conditions all stand in the way of success. But this is remote-control sci-fi action, so never fear, Gallagher is here. He's the team's mechanical engineer and operational backbone. Just watch, he'll save the day!
  5. ^ Connelly, Sherryl (17 March 2014). "Action star Tom Sizemore recounts his rise and fall from fame and his battle with sobriety in new memoir". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on 19 March 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2019.
  6. ^ Stern, Marlow (26 September 2014). "Tom Sizemore's Revenge: On Tom Cruise's Scientology Recruitment, Drugs, and Craving a Comeback". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 28 February 2016.
  7. ^ "Charlie's angels hold off Sandler's devils to remain No. 1". The Pantagraph. 13 November 2000. p. 35. Archived from the original on 6 May 2023. Retrieved 6 May 2023 – via open access
  8. ^ "Red Planet (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  9. ^ "Red Planet". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 7 June 2021.
  10. ^ "Red Planet". Metacritic. Retrieved 12 July 2020.
  11. ^ "Cinemascore". Archived from the original on 20 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Red Planet: Finding the Terra Not So Firma on Mars," Stephen Holden, The New York Times, 10 November 2000
  13. ^ Ebert, Roger (10 November 2000). "Red Planet Movie Review & Film Summary (2000)". Retrieved 12 July 2020.

External links[edit]