Toronto After Dark: “The Last Days on Mars”

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  • Written By: Clive Dawson
  • Directed By: Ruairi Robinson
  • Starring: Liev Schreiber, Romola Garai, Elias Koteas

Toronto After Dark: “The Last Days on Mars”

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I’m sure everyone is familiar with the phrase “In space no one can hear you scream.” Well, in Ruairi Robinson’s new film The Last Days on Mars we learn that on Mars no one can hear the dialogue. In a bizarre twist to last night’s screening, whether it was a problem with the technical side of the screening or the mix within the film I wasn’t able to get a straight answer on, the character’s dialogue within the film was almost completely inaudible but the instrumental score and sound effects blared like the score from Prometheus. For the sake of journalistic transparency, I will do my best to review this movie as I understand it but I might have missed some of the more salient plot points due to the sound quality, so please bear with me.

The Last Days on Mars is a bit of a misnomer. The film actually deals with the last 18 hours on Mars where an international space crew is packing up and getting ready to go home, but one of the crew members jeopardizes everything when he goes out on a last minute mission to collect more samples which eventually reveals itself to be a deadly infection. Led by the intrepid hero-man Vincent (Liev Schreiber) and followed by astronauts all of whom might as well be wearing red shirts the crew quickly figures out what going on and then it’s a race to get to the landing dock where the main spaceship will pick them up to take them home.

The film shoots for the look of a blockbuster but unfortunately falls short as it becomes apparent that the budget could only afford them so many special effects and actions sequences that the rest had to be filled up with dust and quick cuts. While it feels as though Robinson is attempting to break through to the mainstream with this effort it feels extraordinarily derivative and oddly empty. While space and foreign planets are fantastically effective at ramping up the tension quickly due to the lack of air and long trip home, the carelessness with which characters got picked off gave it a hollow feel.

As the film staggered towards it’s conclusion like a space zombie, you realize how bland the whole affair has been. Nothing really matters and nothing was really lost because the audience has been given no clear focus for the story or how the virus spreads. Scenes just keep unfolding before you as characters inadvertently mumble their way through scenes. I eventually gave up trying to understand way they were saying. If you’ve seen any space thriller before, you’ve seen this one. The only potential reason there could be to seek it out is to have your annual hearing test.

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