Dir: María Lidón
Star: Vincent Gallo, Maria de Medeiros, Joaquim de Almeida, Maria Lidón

Just as they are about to land on the red planet, the first manned mission to Mars goes wrong. The crash-landing which results kills the commander and leaves the remaining five astronauts in an impossible predicament. For it's soon realized that, even if they are extremely frugal with usage, there are just not enough resources to sustain all of them for the two-plus years until a rescue ship can make the trek from Earth. The difficult decision is made that three of the crew will walk out into the frozen near-vacuum of Mars, to give the other two a shot at survival, and that trio head down towards a curious geological formation and some apparent fog, photographed as the ship came in towards the ground. Turns out that the apparently dead planet may not always have been quite as lifeless as is now the case. Could this possibly be a lifeline for the previously-condemned astronauts?

Unfortunately, the execution possesses all the intensity of a slow leak into cold, dead space, and sucks the life from the concept with much the same relentlessnees. There's just too much traipsing about: first through the Martian landscape [which in no way resembles the Canary Islands seen through a red filter], and then through what seems like an endless array of twisty little passages, all alike. Every play one of those computer games where you have to pick up X items to complete a level and move on, and you just can't find the Xth one? That's what much of this feels like, and you yearn for a cheat code. I did like the way the characters were not your typically square-jawed heroes: Luca, the enginner (Gallo), in particular, is a aggravating so-and-so, but most of them cheerfully admit to having lied on their psychological tests, so as to get on the mission. However, the plotting which surrounds these travellers is sluggish, and the film doesn't so much build to a climax, as peter out into unconsciousness. In space, no-one can hear you yawn,

[December 2009]

Mars attacks
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