The late 70’s and 80’s was a time when John Carpenter was king of cult cinema, a man who came up with some of the most creative and immensely entertaining flicks of the time that, while usually made for a small budget, were still full of imagination.
The 90’s however hasn’t been so good with most of the efforts of the genre proving to be disappointing and forgettably average. Sadly this decade has kicked off with a film that looks the same – “Ghosts of Mars” is a leaner, meaner and more western film in style than you’d expect from the sci-fi setting. Nevertheless its sadly derivative, unsuspenseful and frankly uninteresting despite a great setting and a few nice quirks.
A reprehensible effort from Ice Cube is off-set by Henstridge who gets to stretch her talent a bit in this and show off in a strong feminine role. Jason Statham stands out as one of the other guards, you could blink and miss the very underused Clea DuVall, the normally great Joanna Cassidy is rather ‘ehhh’ in a bad role, whilst Pam Grier makes the most of what little time she has as the butch lesbian team leader.
The use of the Martian setting feels like a very enclosed set despite some colourful rocks, whilst the baddies are disappointing ‘pierced’ humans with not much to them. The script is very ordinary and predictable, the suspense isn’t much, and yet Carpenter gives it a little something (which I can’t define) which makes it slightly more watchable than you’d might think. Video effort at best.