A crew is just about to return to Earth from the red planet after six months. Then things get complicated.
Irish filmmaker Ruairi Robinson is better known for his short subjects, particularly 2001’s Fifty Percent Grey which picked up an Oscar nomination. He makes his feature directorial debut not with the mooted remake of Akira but horror sci-fi flick The Last Days on Mars.
As first efforts go, it’s really quite impressive. Robinson roped in a decent cast and the special effects work (which was crafted at Screen Scene in Dublin) is excellent, no doubt drawing on his background in CG animation.
So location and atmosphere are easily in place, we’re given some time to get to know the characters and everything is proceeding in a perfectly decent, if entirely familiar, direction. But then the film takes a massive genre swerve, introducing dull space zombies and never quite committing to the about face.
If you’re going to make a space bound horror, do it. If you want something more contemplative, do that instead. Half measures are what ultimately spoil this experience, as well as a second half which doesn’t seem to have any idea how to sustain pace or intensity over a 98 minute running time.
Pros like Liev Schreiber, Olivia Williams and Elias Koteas keep things together as best they can but the result is just too unsatisfying to really recommend. Robinson undoubtedly has talent as a filmmaker, he just needs to stick to his guns when it comes to presenting his vision on screen.