JeffVice's Review of Red Planet

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In all fairness to "Red Planet," there have been worse science-fiction films released this year — just not recently. In fact, you'd have to go back to "Battlefield Earth" to find another one that was so poorly conceived and executed. So it's no wonder why the film was bumped from its original spring release date to late fall — that and the fact that it would have wound up going toe-to-toe with another, similarly themed (and similarly awful) project, "Mission to Mars." And believe it or not, the two films also share a lot in common besides their setting, such as a tendency to rip off some of their much-better forefathers (including Stanley Kubrick's seminal "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Not that the makers of this dull futuristic thriller can even get that part right — not when they can't even create enough tension to keep audiences from nodding off or create characters that we might even remotely care about. Part of that problem has to do with the casting of unlikable star Val Kilmer, who plays space engineer Gallagher, one part of a team headed to Mars to check on terraforming efforts there. But the mission goes wrong quickly, thanks to a solar flare, and five crew members (Kilmer, Tom Sizemore, Simon Baker, Benjamin Bratt and Terence Stamp) find themselves stranded on Mars without food or water and with their air supply quickly running out. Unfortunately for them, mission commander Kate Bowman (Carrie-Anne Moss) is under orders to leave the presumed-dead crew there and return home. And if that wasn't already bad enough, their exploration robot, AMEE, has malfunctioned and is now hunting the survivors down one-by-one. "Red Planet" is rated PG-13 for science-fiction violence (including robot attacks, as well as space explosions), scattered strong profanity (such as one utterance of the so-called "R-rated" curse word), gore, brief partial female nudity and a crude sight gag. Running time: 108 minutes. E-MAIL:
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Okfor ages12+