Ghosts of Mars (2001)

ghosts of mars poster 2001 movie
4.5 Overall Score
Story: 4/10
Acting: 4/10
Visuals: 5/10

Feels like classic Carpenter

Lacks energy and punch

Movie Info

Movie Name: Ghosts of Mars

Studio: Movie Studio

Genre(s): Movie Genre

Release Date(s): Movie Release Date

MPAA Rating: Movie Rating

ghosts of mars natasha henstridge drugs

Wow…this drug is giving me Total Recall!

Mars is being terraformed, and as humans make their mark on the planet, the old crimes of Earth are surfacing there.  Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier), Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge), and a team of soldiers have been sent to a mining outpost to bring in notorious criminal James “Desolation” Williams (Ice Cube).  When they arrive, they discover something older has been unearthed in the mining colony and something is taking over the people.  The creatures are warriors and bent on reclaiming Mars…and survival could mean being teamed up with Desolation.

Written and directed by John Carpenter (with additional script by Larry Sulkis), Ghosts of Mars (sometimes called John Carpenter’s Ghost of Mars) is a science-fiction horror film.  Following Carpenter’s Vampires in 1998, the film was released to negative reviews but has garnered a cult following.

ghosts of mars ice cube jason stratham

I’m really not understanding this sequel to Boyz N the Hood

I never saw Ghosts of Mars when it was released.  Despite being Carpenter, it didn’t look very good.  Watching it twenty years later, the movie feels like classic Carpenter…but it is a problem since it was made twenty years after his “classic” period.

The story for the movie feels like it combines a bunch of Mars science-fiction and the Ice Warriors from Doctor Who (with wind instead of water).  The story is told in flashback so you know that Henstridge makes out (which always loses tension…not necessarily a good thing).  The film ends up almost being a space version of Assault on Precinct 13 as much of the movie has the characters trapped in a building…it isn’t entirely compelling.

Natasha Henstridge and Ice Cube seem to combine to form one Snake Plissken.  Neither quite makes it to the level they need to be to be iconic, but they have some of the traits.  Clea DuVall’s role is small and cut short (pun) and the movie was one of Jason Statham’s early acting roles.  I wish Pam Grier had been in the film longer and Joanna Cassidy, Peter Jason, and Robert Carradine done get enough development.  I do like Richard Cetrone as the “Big Daddy Mars”.

ghosts of mars richard cetrone big daddy

I’m just a miner searching for my Clementine

The problem is the look and energy.  As mentioned, it does feel like Carpenter’s old movies which is kind of fun, but you kind of expect more at this point from the film.  The special effects, the tone, and the pacing all match his early films (which is great), but I wanted Carpenter to evolve.

Ghosts of Mars is a rather plodding horror movie which seems more along the lines of thriller.  The ending of the film is expected but it never seems to peak…even in the train scene.  It just feels like a plateau that needs more “oomph”.  Carpenter left Hollywood after Ghosts of Mars but return with The Ward in 2010.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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