• TADFF Movie Review: The Last Days on Mars (2013)

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    In our film venturing experience, we have always found movies to be more enjoyable when Mars comes to us rather than when we go to Mars. I offer War of the Worlds and Mars Attacks against Mission to Mars and Red Planet as evidence.

    Director Ruairi Robinson hopes to change popular opinion with the new movie The Last Days on mars that had its Canadian Premiere at the Toronto After Dark Film Festival on Tuesday evening.

    Starring Liv Schreiber (Scream, Wolverine), Olivia Williams (The Sixth Sense) and Elias Koteas (Shutter Island, Fallen), The Last Days on Mars chronicles the final days of a group of astronauts on the red planet who while collecting planetary specimens discover possible life in the surface soil.

    The discovery is in fact alien bacteria that turns the small crew (one-by-one, of course) into 28-Days Later type zombies just as they countdown the final 18 hours before they are returned to earth. The movie then follows the standard path of survivors doing what they can to survive while everything around them seems to go to pot.

    Anchored by effective but not flashy special effects, The Last Days on Mars does use its visuals to its advantage. Unfortunately, the routine made-for-television script by Clive Dawson does little to elevate the film to even mediocre status and brings old and stale ideas to the production table.

    Director Ruairi Robinson works on his first feature film here (his film short Blinky should be sought with maximum effort) is given a lot to work with here. A science fiction script, a cast of competent actors lead by A-Lister Liv Shreiver and a small but manageable budget of around $12 million could be worked into miracles with the right man behind the cameras. But poor editing and daft execution fail Robinson and the film badly. Fighting scenes are so choppy that you have no idea who is winning and character decisions follow the thriller guide book – a book that should be burned, pissed on and then burned again.

    We went into our screening hoping for The Last Days on Mars to be everything that Prometheus wasn’t. But instead, we got more of the same including situations that had us scratching our heads while orating ‘wha?’ out loud in a crowded theatre.
    The Toronto After Dark Film Festival is having its best year yet with quality entries from around the world. This one was a step back.

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