The Last Days on Mars
|The Last Days on Mars|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ruairí Robinson|
|Screenplay by||Clive Dawson|
by Sydney J. Bounds
|Music by||Max Richter|
|Edited by||Peter Lambert|
|Distributed by||Magnolia Pictures|
|Box office||$24,084 (US)|
The Last Days on Mars is a 2013 science fiction-horror film directed by Ruairí Robinson with a screenplay by Clive Dawson, based on the short story "The Animators" by Sydney J. Bounds. It was screened in the Directors' Fortnight section at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The film received a limited release on 6 December 2013 in the United States and 11 April 2014 in the United Kingdom. It stars Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garai, Goran Kostić, Johnny Harris, Tom Cullen, Yusra Warsama, and Olivia Williams. It is an international co-production between Ireland and the UK.
In the 2040s, a Martian research base, Tantalus Base outpost, is created. The eight person crew, who have been stationed there for six months, are only nineteen hours from the completion of their research mission. The spacecraft Aurora is inbound from Earth and will collect the team by lander. Mars scientist Marko Petrović has found samples that may point to life on the planet. Without revealing his discovery, he devises a ruse for a last sojourn on the surface. Crewmate Richard Harrington drives Petrović in a solar powered rover to the spot where he had found the sample. After he obtains soil with the biological agent present, a fissure swallows Petrović.
Captain Charles Brunel and crewmate Lauren Dalby plan to explore the pit to retrieve Petrović's body. Dalby remains at the pit but disappears before the team can return with equipment. Brunel authorizes Vincent Campbell to explore the pit and he finds a fungus-like life that grows in the fissure. Dalby and Petrović reappear at the main outpost, but the Martian bacteria has mutated them into fast, aggressive, zombie-like creatures with blackened skin and no trace of their original personalities. Harrington dies from a power drill attack by one of the zombies and later revives as one himself. The remaining crew hold off the zombies while Brunel and Campbell return. Brunel is also fatally injured and reanimates, which provides the crew with new insight into the symptoms: thirst, memory loss and aggression.
Eventually, after several fights and escapes from the zombies through the habitat modules, mission psychologist Robert Irwin deserts scientist Kim Aldrich, who had often infuriated her crewmates. Rebecca Lane is also stabbed in the leg during the frantic escape to a rover. With their rover's power low, the survivors – Campbell, Irwin and Lane – decide they must get to the other rover, which is still at the site of the fissure. Under the pretense of a scouting operation, Irwin steals the second rover and unsuccessfully attempts to persuade Campbell to abandon Lane, who he states is infected. Irwin meanwhile conceals evidence of his possible infection.
While Campbell and Lane wait for the sun to rise and the solar powered batteries to recharge, they discuss the nature of the zombies and Lane questions whether any human consciousness remains trapped in them. Campbell attempts to comfort her and falls asleep. When he wakes up alone, Campbell realizes that Lane has fled into the desert and he chases her. Lane, who knows she is likely to turn, fails to deter Campbell from following her and in desperation, commits suicide by removing her helmet. After she dies, Lane reanimates and begs Campbell to destroy her. Campbell reluctantly complies by bashing her head in with a rock.
Campbell and Irwin separately converge on the Aurora lander, where the reanimated Aldrich kills the lander's crew. The other zombies appear desiccated and inert. An obviously infected Irwin initiates a launch, which takes him and Campbell into orbit. Campbell stuns Irwin and ejects the body and virulent blood droplets into the vacuum of space. In a message to mission control, Campbell says he does not have enough fuel for a rendezvous but supplies aboard can last for months if they want to launch a rescue. He tells them that this may not be advisable as he may be infected; if so he has just enough fuel for re-entry and a fast death. Campbell concludes that it will take 15 minutes for the transmission to be received and will be awaiting their reply. He subsequently ends the communication, still floating alone in space.
- Liev Schreiber as Vincent Campbell
- Elias Koteas as Charles Brunel
- Romola Garai as Rebecca Lane
- Goran Kostić as Marko Petrovic
- Johnny Harris as Robert Irwin
- Tom Cullen as Richard Harrington
- Yusra Warsama as Lauren Dalby
- Olivia Williams as Kim Aldrich
The visual effects for The Last Days on Mars were done by Screen Scene VFX in Ireland. Influences include Paul Greengrass, Michael Mann, and Sergio Leone; Robinson wanted to make a paranoid thriller reminiscent of Alien.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, gave the film a 19% rating, with the site's consensus being, "Neither intelligent enough to work as thought-provoking sci-fi nor trashy enough to provide B-movie thrills, The Last Days on Mars proves as cinematically barren as the titular planet." Metacritic rated it 46/100 based on 21 reviews. Justin Chang of Variety called it a "murkily derivative sci-fi-horror entry that basically amounts to Red Planet of the Dead." Stephen Holden of The New York Times called it "good on atmospherics but unimaginatively plotted". David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter called it atmospheric and gripping but "unapologetically derivative". Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote, "Lean, muscular and on the money, The Last Days on Mars takes a familiar story and tells it so tautly that we are pleased to be on board."
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- Turan, Kenneth (2013-12-05). "Review: 'The Last Days on Mars' shows space exploration's scary side". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-04-03.
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