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Red Planet Blu-ray Review



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#1 of 16 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted August 02 2011 - 06:51 PM

The year 2000 saw the release of two Mars-themed feature films - this one, directed by Antony Hoffman, and "Mission to Mars," directed by Brian DePalma. Though neither is regarded very highly, "Red Planet" manages to rank lower on Rotten Tomatoes, coming in at a measly 13% (though both films only get a "34" on Metacritic). While this seems unnecessarily harsh, there's no denying Hoffman's effort has problems.


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Red Planet

Release Date: Available now
Studio: Warner Home Video
Packaging/Materials: Single-disc Blu-ray "ECO-BOX"
Year: 2000
Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 1:46:29
MSRP: $19.99

  THE FEATURE EXTRAS
Video 1080p high definition 2.40:1 Standard definition
Audio DTS-HD Master Audio: English 5.1 / Dolby Digital: French 5.1, German 5.1, Italian 5.1, Castellano 5.1, Spanish 2.0, Portuguese 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles English SDH, French, German SDH, Italian SDH, Castellano, Spanish, Portuguese, Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Swedish None

The Feature: 2.5/5

By the year 2025 the Earth's resources are so depleted that its inhabitants begin looking elsewhere for a new home. Unmanned terraforming units are sent to Mars with oxygen-producing algae, and after 20 year's time the Red Planet's atmosphere looks to be habitable for colonization. But then oxygen levels begin to inexplicably drop, necessitating a manned mission to investigate and continue the relocation efforts. On the team are Commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss), co-pilot Lt. Ted Santen (Benjamin Bratt), science officer Bud Chantilas (Terence Stamp), systems specialist Robby Gallagher (Val Kilmer), bioengineer Quinn Burchenal (Tom Sizemore), terraforming scientist Chip Pettengill (Simon Baker), and an advanced robotic unit equally adept at navigation and combat functions named AMEE.

Over the six-month journey to Mars, the human members of the team form a reasonable working relationship, but the bonds get tested when an unexpected solar flare wreaks havoc with their attempt to land on the planet. Bowman winds up staying on the main vessel to regain control of its systems, while the rest of the crew must make an impromptu - and less than graceful - descent to the surface. With no way to communicate with Bowman, and their oxygen supply steadily depleting, the men must find a way to survive the unforgiving Martian environment and make it back to the orbiting ship. Complicating matters is a malfunctioning AMEE, now operating in military mode with designs to hunt down and kill each of them. Meanwhile the reasons behind the terraforming effort's apparent failure becomes clear, though the odds of the crew sharing the discovery worsen with each passing moment they remain stranded on the planet.


The year 2000 saw the release of two Mars-themed feature films - this one, directed by Antony Hoffman, and "Mission to Mars," directed by Brian DePalma. Though neither is regarded very highly, "Red Planet" manages to rank lower on Rotten Tomatoes, coming in at a measly 13% (though both films only get a "34" on Metacritic). While this seems unnecessarily harsh, there's no denying Hoffman's effort has problems, the first of which is the dreaded expositional voice over, outdoing even "Blade Runner's" for apathy in delivery. The rest of the film is an amalgamation of well-worn science fiction / action-adventure elements - an evolutionary-biological mystery in need of solving; a mission that goes horribly awry; an out-of-control, homicidal robot; the psychological unraveling of the team as it fights for survival...Nothing is necessarily wrong with any of the scenarios, but the script could have done without at least one of them, my vote being the killer robot. Its inclusion proves to be a pedestrian distraction in a film that otherwise tries to say some thoughtful things about science and creation, but never gets the chance to say it properly. Coupled with the awkward opening and closing voice overs, it's pretty clear "Red Planet" fell victim to some kind of studio tampering that called for more "clarity" and action. Though the film still has some compelling and well-staged elements, they're admittedly difficult to recognize amidst the glaring problems, and the attempt to balance all the competing conflicts ultimately proves more than the filmmakers are able to handle.

Video Quality: 4/5

The film is correctly framed at 2.40:1 and presented in 1080p with the AVC codec. The transfer features warm, deep color, strong and stable blacks, and contrast that exhibits the full range of values with no signs of compression. The image is also free of artifacts from digital sharpening, though it's not always the most crisp or detailed, often looking indistinct and hazy in wide shots. The 10-year old CGI effects also tend to stand out, but otherwise the presentation is free of visual distractions.


Audio Quality: 4.5/5

Dialogue in the 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is crisp, detailed and intelligible. Surround effects ranging from the directional to ambient are balanced and seamless. LFE is used sparingly, but has excellent depth and tone, giving things like space vessel flyovers and explosions great dramatic heft.

Special Features: 2/5

Deleted Scenes (14:22, SD) consist mostly of extended versions of scenes in the film, though "Fight" casts a character in a very different light.

  • Santen and Chantilas (1:01)
  • Green House (1:13)
  • Bacon and Wife (5:01)
  • Fight (2:24)
  • AMEE Jams H.H.C.'s (:36)
  • Kiss Flashback (1:55)
  • Potato Scene (:42)
  • Ice Cave (1:42)
Theatrical Trailer (1:38, SD)


Recap

The Feature: 2.5/5
Video Quality: 4/5
Audio Quality: 4.5/5
Special Features: 2/5
Overall Score (not an average): 3/5



Warner Home Video turns in a fine presentation for an otherwise problematic "mission to Mars" film. There isn't much to the special features, though that's not entirely surprising given the critical and audience reception.


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#2 of 16 OFFLINE   Cinescott

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Posted August 03 2011 - 12:41 AM

Great review. Red Planet has been a guilty pleasure of mine since its theatrical release, even though I completely agree that there are too many thematic elements competing with one another. The voice-overs by Moss are horrible; there's no denying that one. Even worse than Blade Runner IMO. I think the opening would have been better served with simple text on the screen. Killer robot? Doesn't really work. Weird algae creatures? Nope.


I do, however, like the presentation of Mars and the theme of trying to solve a problem with a limited supply of oxygen. That combined with the God/Science angle really makes this better than horrible, if you know what I mean. Regardless, it's 1000% better than the train wreck that was "Mission to Mars."


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#3 of 16 OFFLINE   newtonnjd

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Posted August 03 2011 - 12:58 AM

Great review. Red Planet has been a guilty pleasure of mine since its theatrical release, even though I completely agree that there are too many thematic elements competing with one another. The voice-overs by Moss are horrible; there's no denying that one. Even worse than Blade Runner IMO. I think the opening would have been better served with simple text on the screen. Killer robot? Doesn't really work. Weird algae creatures? Nope.


I do, however, like the presentation of Mars and the theme of trying to solve a problem with a limited supply of oxygen. That combined with the God/Science angle really makes this better than horrible, if you know what I mean. Regardless, it's 1000% better than the train wreck that was "Mission to Mars."

I'd disagree on that, I like "Mission to Mars" quite a lot!

#4 of 16 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted August 03 2011 - 01:04 AM

I liked Mission to Mars, but I barely remember Red Planet. Both had some embarrassingly bad science, which I generally have trouble looking past, but I'd still like to try revisiting this one on Blu-ray.
 

 


#5 of 16 OFFLINE   Johnny Angell

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Posted August 03 2011 - 01:38 AM

I'm with Scott on this one. I prefer Red Planet and it is a guilty pleasure. I think this one will be selling for $10 in the near future.
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#6 of 16 OFFLINE   Cameron Yee

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Posted August 03 2011 - 02:32 AM

Sounds like I should have created a poll for this one! Posted Image


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#7 of 16 OFFLINE   cineMANIAC

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Posted August 03 2011 - 02:48 AM

I liked Mission to Mars. Nice score by Ennio Moricone. All I remember from Red Planet is a giant balloon- falling out of a spaceship and rolling down the slopes of Mars. Oh, and Terrence Stamp.
 

 


#8 of 16 OFFLINE   Paul_Warren

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Posted August 03 2011 - 06:27 AM

I like both movies no idea when WB release this in UK though & Misson To Mars would look great on BD but its still MIA........... Red Planet is a lot like 1950's sci-fi movies in thats its dumb but fun to watch combined with some decent FX & acting its an ok movie & does not deserve the poor reviews not by a long way. If you want hard science in a movie go watch 2001 otherwise sit back & enjoy the ride!!

#9 of 16 OFFLINE   Billy Batson

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Posted August 03 2011 - 07:21 AM

I don't like Mission To Mars, & won't bother watching it again. I do like Red Planet (saw it only a few weeks ago) it's good pulp science fiction. If I want the BD I'm going to have to import it to the UK, I can't see Warner releasing it here.

#10 of 16 OFFLINE   Dave Scarpa

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Posted August 03 2011 - 07:23 AM

Log me as prefering Red Planet, but will definitely wait for it to hit the Bargain Bin
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#11 of 16 OFFLINE   PatW

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Posted August 03 2011 - 08:12 AM

Yeah, I enjoyed this one and disliked Mission to Mars. Pace off in that one. Will wait for Red Planet to go below $10 before I pick it up.

#12 of 16 OFFLINE   Douglas Monce

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Posted August 03 2011 - 11:43 AM

I thought Mission to Mars was one of the most embarrassingly bad movies to come out of a major studio in the last 20 years. Red Planet was a pretty enjoyable adventure film that didn't have any of the pretense of an "important" story line. I couldn't get through all of Mission to Mars. Doug
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#13 of 16 OFFLINE   Ron-P

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Posted August 03 2011 - 04:15 PM

Watched Red Planet last night and was quite pleased with the A/V, very impressive considering the film is 10+ years old. I also enjoyed Mission to Mars just as much. Might like MtM a bit more though.

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#14 of 16 OFFLINE   Michael Osadciw

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Posted August 03 2011 - 05:31 PM

The CGI was horrendous in this movie. The opening shots, the green algae - it was the worst I've seen for a major studio picture!! The movie had it's moments of good. Yeah, killer robot. I didn't fall for that one.

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#15 of 16 OFFLINE   Jeff Robertson

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Posted July 18 2012 - 08:11 AM

Well, it only took about a year, but I think the bargain price is here now. I saw this at Fry's this week for $6.


Still not cheap enough for me. I'm in the Mission to Mars camp. When that eventually arrives on Blu, I will wait for the bargain price first, but will pick it up. Posted Image



#16 of 16 OFFLINE   AL KUENSTER

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Posted July 18 2012 - 08:21 AM

I picked this up a month ago in a 3disc set Red Planet, Contact & 2010 for under $10
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