The sci-fi/horror film The Last Days on Mars follows a group of astronauts, who are 19 hours away from completing their six month mission on Mars. The crew members include Vincent Campbell (Liev Schreiber), Rebecca Lane (Romola Garai), Kim Aldrich (Olivia Williams), Robert Irwin (Johnny Harris), and the captain Charles Brunel (Elias Koteas). As the crew begins preparing for their final briefing, a scientist asks Brunel for permission to head out one more time on the planet’s service. The scientist claims to be checking a non-responsive sensor, though it is quickly revealed that he has discovered a bacteria growing under the Martian surface. It quickly becomes apparent that the bacteria is infectious and those who come into contact with it, quickly become violent grey-skinned zombies. With the infection spreading and only a few hours remaining until the crew’s shuttle arrives, Vincent and the others have to find a way to escape Mars and prevent the infection from returning to Earth.
For what it is, I thought that The Last Days on Mars was an OK enough. There is nothing all that special or original about the plot, which I would say has references to everything from 28 Days Later to The Thing. Out of all the possible Martian treats, it almost seems like a bit of a cop out that the film went with an infectious bacteria that turns people into violent zombies. I’m not asking that the film have little green men, it just seems like this is something that I have seen many times before.
The Last Days of Mars has a very impressive multinational cast, lead by Liev Schreiber as Vincent Campbell. One element of Vincent’s character, which I didn’t think was fully developed, was how he seems to be suffering from claustrophobia, after an incident that occurred on the voyage to Mars. This incident is only shown in brief flashes and I did not really understand how it pertained to the plot at hand. The other two major recognizable faces in the film are Elias Koteas and Olivia Williams, both of whom I felt were a bit wasted in the film, though I do have to note that it was neat seeing a Canadian in charge of the mission. One of the crew members becomes a de-facto antagonist by end, which I believe was only added to add some higher stakes to the film’s climax.
When it is all said and done, The Last Days on Mars gets its job done, but isn’t really memorable by the end. The film suffers the most from a lack of character development, with many crew members either quickly succumbing to the infection or are merely locked behind a door, never to be seen again. However, for some cheap space zombie thrills, the film is fine enough.7 | FAIR