MRR Review: ''The Last Day on Mars''

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A group of astronaut explorers succumb one by one to a mysterious and terrifying force while collecting specimens on Mars.
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MRR Review: ''The Last Day on Mars''

Rating: PG-13
Length: 91 minutes
Release date: December 6, 2013
Directed by: Ruairi Robinson
Genre: Science Fiction / Thriller

''The Last Day on Mars'' is a sci-fi thriller that's based on a short story called ''The Animators'' that was written by Sydney J. Bounds in 1975. It features a small cast of stars, including Liev Schreiber (''X-Men Origins: Wolverine''), Elias Koteas (''The Curious Case of Benjamin Button''), Romola Garai (''Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights''), and Olivia Williams (''The Sixth Sense''). In the film, Schreiber plays a character named Vincent Campbell, an astronaut who leads a six-month mission to Mars with his crew of eight. Throughout the journey, Vincent and his crew search for life forms on the planet; and as the journey nears its end, the crew is very unhappy because no life forms were found, and they prepare to return home.

During the last 24 hours of the journey, Marko, one of the crew's scientists, pinpoints an area where he discovered samples that support the idea that there are actual life forms on the planet. He also discovers samples of a substance on Mars that can potentially kill them all and wipe out the entire human race if it gets to earth. Under Vincent's leadership, the team decides to take the spacecraft to the area to research Marko's findings. After getting to the area, Marko exits the spacecraft to collect samples. Shortly after collecting them, he is swallowed by a fissure while attempting to return to the spacecraft. Two members of the crew, Lauren and Charles, desperately attempt to save their crew member. Charles is swallowed by the fissure as well.

Eventually, Charles and Marko reappear; however, they are not themselves. The two men were infected with biological agents that completely mutated them. They've become zombie-like creatures with amazing speed and superior strength, and they also have severely blackened skin. Unlike the other members of the crew, Charles and Marko can now survive on the planet Mars. The two have no recollection of their crew members and begin to viciously attack them. The other members of the crew fight for their lives.

The battle between the zombies and the astronauts goes on throughout the movie. During the battle, a few members of the crew unfortunately lose their lives. Vincent and Robert make an attempt to flee the area where the zombies are located; unfortunately, they discover that their spacecraft does not have enough power to fully exit the area. They can use solar power to recharge the spacecraft, but they must wait for the sun to rise, which keeps them close to the area where the zombies are located. Eventually, another crew member gets infected with the biological agents and turns into a zombie-like creature that Vincent is forced to kill in order to save himself. As the movie nears its end, Vincent realizes that his ongoing interaction with the zombies might have infected him, and he contemplates whether or not returning to Earth would be a good idea.

''The Last Day on Mars'' has amazing special effects. The visuals are very similar to other sci-fi movies that take place in space, but they seem to be more vivid and lifelike. The setting is realistic as well. For example, the planet Mars is red and very isolated in this film, and Robinson does a good job of making the audience feel the isolation that the film characters experience while there. The feeling of isolation that the audience feels makes it startling when the zombies actually appear, and the sound effects that accompany their appearance might make you jump. While the film does have intense moments, it is not very scary. It seems as if Robinson wanted the movie to have some of the elements of a horror film; however, this film is definitely a science fiction thriller that's filled with action, not a scary movie.

The amazing special effects and Schreiber's great acting are definitely enough to keep your attention throughout the movie; but if you're a fan of science fiction movies, you'll immediately realize that the film is somewhat predictable. It has the type of storyline that has become popular with science fiction movies, which mostly centers on a group of people trying to save the world or the human race. It would have been great if Robinson put a different spin on the film, but those who love the film believe that it is a great movie adaptation of the 1975 short story ''The Animators.''

Rating: 3 out of 5