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on March 8, 2008
Did any of you pay attention to the movie that you were watching? Or were you doing something while this was playing in the background? I am just trying to address some of the problems that people seem to have with this movie that I think are not real problems. First, one reviewer wrote that is unbelievable that the characters would be able to walk around without helmets on the surface of Mars. NEWSFLASH, the characters themselves explain how this is possible, and within the first 20 minutes no less. Second, another reviewer said the aliens don't even look like aliens. That is because they are not aliens. The Ghosts that the title refer to posses the humans that are colonizing the planet. That is why they look human, cause they ARE. Third, the dialogue has been commented on in more than a few reviews and while it is cheesy it is not like this is Shakesphere. It is about a group of police officers who are going to place that none of them want to be. Of course they are going to sound irritated, wouldn't you?

I would just like to say before i finish that the next time you review a movie please watch it and at least try to pay attention.
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on June 27, 2004
It's John Carpenter, so what does everyone expect? I know what I expected, and "Ghosts of Mars" pretty much delivered. Thudding sound track, B-movie dialogue, heads on stakes, "Road Warrior" like zanies with metal sticking out of their faces stalking the "good" guys. Bring on the popcorn. Then there's a humorous twist. The "guys" in this future world live in a Matriarchy. Guys make the coffee, defer to the women, but also are told to deal with mechanical problems when they arise. (Well, at least the "breeder" - Jason Statham as Jericho - does.) Carpenter works all kinds of little jokes into the script on this wrinkle alone. Natasha Henstridge as the tough cop hero, and Ice Cube, as the con hero, are serviceable - and they know when to shoot, kick, and punch. And that's all that's needed here. I don't know who the main Martian is (he looks like Marilyn Manson in Kabuki), but he's perfect! Four stars for operating well within genre.
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on March 8, 2004
Ghosts of Mars (John Carpenter, 2001)
Man, was everyone down on this movie or what? Come on, folks. This wasn't great art, and it wasn't meant to be. It's simple turn-your-brain-off fun that follows the formula of most of John Carpenter's earlier flicks to every dotted I and crossed T. And while that seems to be exactly what had the fans howling in the aisles, please, folks, help me out here.
Okay, so all the guns exist today even though it's in the future. (Escape from New York, anyone?) The bad guys look a lot more like the guys from GWAR than they do actual bad guys. (Vampires, They Live, erm, the crazies from Escape from New York.) The action runs a very taut line between not gory enough and ludicrously faked. (Escape from New York-- are you sensing a pattern here?) So what? Everyone overlooked it twenty years ago.
The basic idea is that a team of space marines has to go get a prisoner, Desolation Jones (Ice Cube of Trespass and Friday fame), from a remote outpost and take him back to HQ to stand trial. Problem is, when they get there, they found out a whole lot of crimes matching the ones he's supposed to have committed have happened while he was in his holding cell. So the team, headed up by a drug-addled Lieutenant (Natasha McElhone), her commander (Pam Grier), and their new officer, an overly cocky and wildly oversexed Sergeant (Jason Statham, best known for his Guy Ritchie films) figure there's something nasty going on, and have to figure out what it is and how to stop it before the train, which has gone on to make a few more stops, gets back.
No, you're not going to find great acting, the plot's been done before, and, well, it's about as silly as can be. But folks, that's pretty much what John Carpenter has always been about, from Dark Star till the present day. Some of his movies forget to be humorous, some of them forget to be scary, some of them are just sci-fi action pictures. That's what this one is. Things blow up, the bad guys chase the good guys, things blow up, people bond, things blow up, you get the idea. Turn your brain off and enjoy the ride. ** ½
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on March 16, 2004
Yeah, everyone's whining about Ghosts Of Mars. Everyone's pretty much given up on John Carpenter. I admire Carpenter for making the films he wants to and not succumbing to whatever trendiness is expected of horror directors. Wes may be hip wit da teens, but John does what he wants to, even if you think it's lame. Ghosts Of Mars isn't his finest hour, it's not even all that great, but it's Carpenter. This is the kind of film Carpenter has always made. He's never admitted to being more than a B film director and he chooses to be such. After Starman, he coulda been in the big time, but chose his own independent Prince Of Darkness over the Hollywood machine. Ghosts Of Mars would have had more critical and fan praise if it were released in the mid eighties. It wouldn't have seemed so cliched. Personally I admire him for making such a film, passe as it may seem. If I were you I'd check it out. Just don't be expecting some sci-fi extravaganza(which I think everyone was expecting), expect cheesy B movie thrills.
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Ghosts of Mars(released Aug.01)stars Natashia Henstridge,Ice Cube,Pam Grier,Joanna Cassidy and Jason Statham.It is a good cast wasted on a poor script and the actors just sleep walk their way through this been-there,done-that yawner from John Carpenter.Maybe because it was filmed mostly at night it would explain the yawn part.
The story opens on Mars which is almost fully terraformed.There has been on going exploration of the planet for some time.A remarkable discovery is made when a blasting site reveals an opening in the side of a cliff;obviously artificial.Joanna Cassidy is the person who first explores the tunnel and inadvertently opens up the door at the end of it.This unleashes a reddish cloud which contains the souls of thousands of dead Martians from ages past and they aren't up for garden parties.It is more of a possess now and kill later kind of thing.
Henstridge,Grier and Statham are three out of five cops sent to retrieve a dangerous killer in the form of Ice Cube.When they reach the settlement by train they come upon one grisly discovery after another.This leads to the ultimate discovery of hundreds of miners that have been possessed by the Martian souls and are bent on killing the "invaders"(that's us).The spirits can possess either the living or the dead so the crew has to be careful at all times.
In the end most of the original cops have gone and in fact Henstridge and Cube are alone fleeing on the train.Cube manages to get away from Henstridge who wanted to return him for trial.When she arrives back at HQ,she is interrogated by a disbelieving panel of superiors.As she sits alone in her room she suddenly hears alot of raucous outside.Who should show up but Ice Cube as the possessed beings have reached HQ and Cube and Henstridge are ready to fight but are taking no prisoners.
This movie must have certainly looked better on paper,because it doesn't look good on film.It is almost as if Carpenter had an obligation for one last film to someone,and came up with this lame duck of an idea.The cast goes through their paces barely awake;there is very little excitement or suspenseful build ups at any time.The SFX are really pedestrian at best and do not help anyone or anything about Ghosts of Mars.
Technically speaking the film is in its w/s a/r of 2:35:1 and looks clear and crisp.Extras include the making of GOM,commentary,a vid diary,featurettes on the making of GOM,the S/FX and the scoring and the trailer.
All in all a very mediocre Carpenter film;a real disappointment.The plot is hum drum and the lack of excitement and drama exuded by the actors on screen really shows,because of it.2 1/2 stars.Pass on it.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon July 27, 2010
All this movie is just mad Max on Mars. There's great quantities of blood lots of action and an appalling lack of sex. Luckily, I saw the Blu-Ray version so I was able to fast forward through most of it. The Blu-Ray also has commentaries that are not worth listening to.

200 years in the future, a train on autopilot enters the station with only one passenger handcuffed. She is brought in to the Council to explain her experiences. We get one big flash back. She was sent to pick up a prisoner in an outpost-mining town. However, what she found there could infect the whole planet. We get to watch as they handle the situation or try to handle the situation or whatever.

No time for story too busy slashing each other up with makeshift weapons that have little points on them and take more energy to build than the standard weapons of the time. No time for love just drugs and killing and more killing and slicing and dicing and chop-O-medics and spitting blood and scratching your eyes out and so forth and so forth and so forth. Wouldn't you know it, no one stays in the car.
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on June 14, 2003
For some reason I can't stop watching this movie. Yes, I must admit, this movie is really entertaining...Despite it's cheesy portrayal of life on Mars. Something about this movie just makes me sit down and watch it whenever it's on. It might be the fact that the movie knows exactly what it is -- A B-movie sci-fi flick. It doesn't try to be anything else. And, not only is Natasha Henstridge portrayal of a Mars cop really cool, she's also damn fun to watch because she's incredibly beautiful. When watching this movie, don't get distracted by the improbable plot, concentrate on the cool characters and the great performances by the cast. The movie is loaded with memorable characters, including Ice Cube's Desolation Williams. And most importantly, the movie never takes itself too seriously, which is perfect for a movie of this sort.
John Carpenter is the best at creating fun-to-watch characters straight out of a comic book. Please give the movie a chance. It gets better the more you watch it.
Also, the constant screaming of "Mahwah, mahwah" by Bid Daddy Mars is kinda funny. Whatever he's screaming he certainly means it! Don't mess with the Ghosts Of Mars!For some reason I can't stop watching this movie. Yes, I must admit, this movie is really entertaining...Despite its cheesy portrayal of life on Mars. Something about this movie just makes me sit down and watch it whenever it's on. It might be the fact that the movie knows exactly what it is -- A B-movie sci-fi flick. It doesn't try to be anything else. And, not only is Natasha Henstridge portrayal of a Mars cop really cool, she's also damn fun to watch because she's incredibly beautiful. When watching this movie, don't get distracted by the improbable plot, concentrate on the cool characters and the great performances by the cast. The movie is loaded with memorable characters, including Ice Cube's Desolation Williams. And most importantly, the movie never takes itself too seriously, which is perfect for a movie of this sort.
John Carpenter is the best at creating fun-to-watch characters straight out of a comic book. Please give the movie a chance. It gets better the more you watch it.
Also, the constant screaming of "Mahwah, Mahwah" by Bid Daddy Mars is very funny. Whatever he's screaming he certainly means it! Don't mess with the Ghosts Of Mars!
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on September 19, 2002
Mr. Bruce Rux asked 'Why?' about "Ghosts of Mars". I thought he deserved some specific answers to his many questions.
Mars is ruled by a matriarchy. WHY?
- And why not? Men don't have the exclusive in power. Nobody's asking why our society is a 'patriarchy'. Mrs. Hilary Clinton will probably be the next president of the United States and nobody'll be asking why. Margaret Thatcher's been for a long time the first person in Great Britain and nobody asked why. Don't be another macho one!
A man cuts off his own thumb. WHY?
- Because he's a strong drug addict. Just before he does it, he filled his brains with nitrous mix through a black market breather, a Laugher. And as Jericho explains, that nitrous stuff turns your brains into cheese. In two words, it makes you dummy, totally unsensitive and unconscious. That's why he cuts off his thumb without even noticing right away.
The entire movie is told in multiple flashbacks. WHY?
- You mustn't go to movies very often, pal. "Ghosts of Mars" isn't the only movie told this way. There are plenty of them. Remember "Titanic". Lately there was "The Hole". Or Brian de Palma's "Casualties of War". Or Carpenter's "In the Mouth of Madness". Or "D.O.A.". Or...
There are flashbacks within flashbacks...WITHIN FLASHBACKS! WHY?
- That's a way of storytelling, like any other one. The main character of the movie is the only survivor of a massacre. Like in "The Hole" and many other films. In front of her superiors, she tells everything about what happened to her and the others. The thing is, Melanie Ballard isn't the only one to tell about the events; some other people - inside flashbacks -, especially Dr. Arlene Whitlock, Jericho and Uno, also tell about what happened to them, about what they saw and what's going on around them. They have to, to make things clear for the others - and for us. There's no problem about that. Many people find this way of storytelling complicated and confusing; I'm still wondering how they do it.
Natasha Henstridge stars - and DOESN'T STRIP! WHY?
- Because it's not in her contract - she's not supposed to show her beautiful body every time she makes a movie. Besides the role wasn't written for her, but for Courtney Love, who's far from being as sexy as Natasha. And remember this: in a Carpenter movie, women DON'T strip. They're treated as real human characters, not like simple ... toys, like in Hollywood.
Henstridge is a lawman - er, "person" - who allies herself with a notorious criminal...even AFTER the mutual threat they're fighting is over! WHY?
- Pardon me. The mutual threat Melanie and Williams are fighting is NOT over! In the end the ghosts invade the city of Chryse, where Melanie is. Williams comes to rescue her and they keep fighting together. Simple!
ICE CUBE! ON MARS!! WHY?
- Hey guy, it's just a film! Don't mix everything! In "Total Recall", Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone end up on Mars and nobody asked why.
Jailbreakers get themselves locked in the same cell as the guy they're trying to bust out! WHY??
- They don't get themselves locked. They come to rescue Desolation Williams, but Uno, who was keeping an eye on the cops, has a moment of joy and unwariness when he sees his brother again. Melanie uses it and locks them in the cell. Logical.
Joanna Cassidy in a hot-air balloon - ON MARS!! WHY???
- You're dealing with a science-fiction film. It takes place in 2176, at a time when men have made the air breathable on Mars. Not as well as it is on the Earth, but breathable anyway. And don't forget the winds. Another thing you forgot: in the film, Joanna Cassidy is a scientist, and on Mars, the gravity is much lower than on the Earth. So flying in a hot-air balloon is much easier on Mars than on the Earth.
Aeons-old Martian gas makes men into ooga-chaka zombies, who grunt to "I Can't Stop This Feeling, Deep Inside of Me"!! WHY?!?
- Some possessed men are aware of what happening to them, and in one scene, one of them deals with a human, and he tries to warn her (Melanie), that's all. He cuts his throat because he knows he's already dead, and in order to try to tell the human what's going on.
The Martian zombies dress for a Kiss video - ON MARS!! WHY!?!
- They dress as anything they want, not for what you call a Kiss video. They're not like us, they make a savage, early tribe. And you're right, they're Martian, on Mars. They're here to break any invasion of their planet, and they have to look like determined, pitiless warriors. And they don't care about the Kiss band - they don't even know what it is. Again, don't confuse fiction for reality!
The good guys escape, only to rush back into the jaws of certain doom - FOR NO GOOD REASON!!! WHY!!!
- For no good reason?? I'm gonna give you one good reason: DOMINION!! "Ghosts of Mars" isn't only a science-fiction film with elements of western and horror, it's also a reflection about colonialism and the human condition. The purpose of the film is the conquest of Mars. And to make this conquest possible, the so-called 'good guys' have to destroy, completely erase the enemy while it's still only in Shining Canyon, before it gets to Chryse and spreads all over the planet. As Melanie explains: 'It's not their planet any more'. The thing is, the enemy is a gang of ghosts. We can't kill what's already dead, but with an atomic bomb, maybe you'll do it. That's why they take the risk, and unfortunately many human people die. The bomb explodes but doesn't kill the enemy, and in the end Melanie and Desolation have to face it again... and the film finishes. This is an opened ending, like in "Halloween". Things will be more complicated on Mars than they were on the Earth, with the Indians. You can't kill what's not alive! Maybe they'll be making a sequel...
You said that nothing in the film makes sense - you're totally wrong. Everything in "Ghosts of Mars" makes sense. John Carpenter is not a primary filmmaker, he's one of the best ones still working. Maybe the best one. Like many other people in the U.S., you didn't understand much about this movie - if you didn't try to. Now I hope you will! You said that you love it, so why don't you try to understand it? And when you say that it's as bad as "Battlefield Earth", I don't agree, not at all. "Battlefield Earth" is another Hollywood complete disaster, and "Ghosts of Mars", a great independent work. Both films can't be compared, and you can't compare Carpenter to... Roger Christian.
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on July 31, 2002
Shamefully and unfairly calumniated, denigrated, insulted, disgraced, depreciated by a mob of blind journalists, critics and public viewers fond of, if not obsessed with neatness, clichés and deja-vu in movies, afraid of everything new, creative and non-conformist, unable to analyse correctly and understand... the last Carpenter release, his rejoicing "Ghosts of Mars" is a rare piece of work we unfortunately no more have the courage to make and face these days.
'For them, we are the invaders...'
What did you expect? "Total Recall" n° 2? "Species" n° 3? Another teen movie? In case you forgot, Big John Carpenter is an independent artist, a rebel and he makes his films the way he wants them to be made, keeping all the usual Hollywood stuff away. In "Ghosts of Mars" like in most of his previous films, no stupid sentimental scene, no cheap love story, no body-builded superstar like Schwarzenegger for bumping off all the bad guys one after another (and no super female to back him up) and of course for triumphing in the end, no heavy, exhausting special effects, no honeyed music... in two words, not any of all the conventions always desired by the brainless but too demanding riff-raff (critics included). This film must be seen as a real action movie, and the hell with the established criterions!
"Ghosts of Mars" is first the proof that Carpenter is no more influenced by the others; he's now influenced only by himself, his own work. The Shining Canyon siege reminds us of the ones in "Assault on Precinct 13" and also "Prince of Darkness", the possession theme takes us back to "The Thing", the fighting scenes, to "Big Trouble in Little China" and Big Daddy Mars is very close to Blake in "The Fog" and the chilling bum played by rocker Alice Cooper in "Prince of Darkness". The only outside influence is Cyril Endfield's "Zulu", about the Martians and their methods, mutilating the human bodies they took possession of - not mutilating themselves; of course, they're already dead! -, acting like a savage tribe (what's all that stuff about Marilyn Manson??? For Christ Sake! this is ridiculous!). There's also some of "The Exorcist", and the scene where Henstridge manages to get rid of the ghost inside her, thanks to the dope she's addicted to, may give us a solution to demon possession.
Instead of kicking...in real life, Carpenter does it in his movies. He always did so far and there's no reason he doesn't do it again. Despite some senseless elements in the script - we don't really understand why the ghosts of Mars can't get through the doors and walls, and why the human characters, after escaping from hell, come back to it right away, in order to try to blow up the whole place and the ghosts with it, with an atomic bomb (the problem is, you can't kill what's already dead) -, the movie manages to work. One of the most important things is the political background which is still here, as visible as it was before, and Carpenter didn't take gloves for nothing, especially not for the Mars planet itself - a dark mining colony, soon becoming some kind of a hell, and reminding us Manhattan transformed as an outdoor prison hell in "Escape from New York", for the two main characters (the one is a gang leader, the other, a drug addict), for the society of the earth, settled on Mars - a matriarchal society, ruled by women (why not? It's very envisageable, and doesn't need any explanation), and for his country's history: the ghosts can be easily compared with the American Indians. Using the hard way, Carpenter reminds us that Mars is, for the mankind, just another territory to be conquered, whatever the price (one more general slaughter?), doing it again, 21 years after "The Fog" which has a similar message about the past. 'It's not their planet any more', Melanie Ballard says. Finally, there were in this movie all the elements leading to its (unfair but foreseeable) critical and public failure. All the more because, probably for the first time since "Johnny Guitar" (forget about the "Alien" series), it's a woman who got the first role in a high-grade action movie. And as we know, the audience is filled with machos...
About the actors, we'll notice the good performance of very (too?) pretty Natasha Henstridge, here in the role of a strong (and of course sexually attractive) woman, far from all the conventions in force in Hollywood. For once, she doesn't strip - why should she, Bruce? It's not in her contract, and besides the role wasn't written for her - even macho Jason Statham can't make her! - and she really ACTS! At LAST! Ice Cube makes it rather well in a Plissken-looking role (like Plissken and 'Napoleon' Wilson in "Assault on Precinct 13", James 'Desolation' Williams doesn't believe in anything but staying alive), and Pam Grier ("Coffy", "Jackie Brown"), back with Big John five years after "Escape from L.A.", and Joanna Cassidy ("Blade Runner", "Who framed Roger Rabbit?") make diverting appearances. The result is a hell of a sci-fi movie, managing to cleverly mix many genres (action, horror, western, comedy of manners...) with quite little money; a movie to be taken at the third degree and consumed like good source water: with no moderation. Just try, you'll see, it's very easy...
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on October 18, 2003
Did the producers of this "film" (and I use the term "film" very loosely) actually think they had something of value on their hands? Did they consider that there might be some intelligence sitting in the showing room? Did they hope to even "break even" with box office receipts?
I won't be a "spoiler" to those that wish to view it but I will add that there is a great predictability factor present. One example is labeling two characters as "rookies". I knew then that those two would have a short onscreen "life span".
You can spot the plot inconsistencies MILES before they occur. There are so many unanswered questions by the end of the picture that one might wonder if the screenwriter had finished primary school.
Fortunately for Pam Grier, her screen time is limited. I'm sure that she would love to disassociate herself with this, shall we say, lump of coal.
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