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Red Planet

reviewed by Lynn Barker

The RED PLANET is Mars and, in the year 2050, it's the last hope for a home for Mankind. We've polluted and overpopulated Earth so badly that scientists have been Terraforming Mars; giving it an atmosphere and plantlife so that we can "move" there. Something has gone wrong, however and Mission Commander KATE BOWMAN (Carrie-Anne Moss from MATRIX) heads a crew on a mission to find out what happened and repair the damage.

When a solar flare knocks out power to the ship in Mars orbit, Bowman must stay behind while crewmembers GALLAGHER (Val Kilmer), BURCHENAL (Tom Sizemore), SANTEN (Benjamin Bratt), PETTINGIL (Simon Baker) and CHANTILAS (Terrence Stamp) crashland on the surface in an escape pod. Once on Mars, the men learn that nothing is as expected. Even their "navigation" robot AMEE has gone into "military" mode and is stalking them.

As the crew attempts to survive, they discover that AMEE isn't the only non-human life on the planet. While Bowman desperately tries to aid the men in getting back to the safety of the mothership, time is running out.

RED PLANET says a lot about the spirit of Man and his uncanny ability to use brains, brawn and plain old courage to get himself out of the most impossible, life-threatening situations. In this case, it's refreshing to see that a lot of these qualities are present in a WOMAN! It's Commander Bowman who, to me, is the real hero of this film. She's calm under fire, thinks on her feet and ends up saving the "hero" in a brave and well-calculated rescue move. Although the film is slow at times, special effects and sound effects are awesome and you'll enjoy AMEE and all the cool gadgets. Most notably, RED PLANET is worth seeing for its portrayal of a strong, in-charge, professional woman (who happens to have a crush on one of her crew members but, hey, she's human!)

Rated PG-13

Directed by: Antony Hoffman

Screenplay by: Chuck Pfarrer and Jonathan Lemkin from a story by Pfarrer

Starring: Val Kilmer as Gallagher
Carrie-Anne Moss as Commander Bowman
Tom Sizemore as Dr. Burchenal
Benjamin Bratt as Santen
Terence Stamp as Chantilas
Simon Baker as Pettengil

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