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Come on, guys, it ain't THAT bad!
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