Sunday, March 2, 2014

3 Short Paragraphs: The Last Days on Mars

2013, Ruairi Robinson -- download

** SPOILER ALERT Don't read the below if you want to experience any surprises from the movie **

I never commented on how much I like the design esthetic in Europa Report.  There is probably a whole line of thought of how the interior of real space ships and habitats should look and that in our current age, it is starting to become rather chicken and egg. Do the movies inspire NASA on how the interior of Mars lander would look or are industrial designers on movie sets still looking at the interiors of the space station for ideas on realism? Either way, there is something about that mix of clean white plastic, smudged with filth after months or years of use, and the novel ways of organizing interiors that appeals to me. Some day, probably soon, someone will probably depict the interior of a star ship in a fundamentally new and intriguing way and our viewing paradigm will shift. Until then, we are given rounded edges, vacuum sealed doors out of submarines and slow moving all-terrain vehicles... all white. This is the visual cue that tells us this is a scifi movie based in realism, not future tech.

The Last Days on Mars is about the last few days of the second team to land on Mars. We don't know what happened to the first team, but likely they just finished their 6 month term and went upstairs to the orbital ship. The problem is that this second expedition hasn't discovered anything startling, and since the first team did all the "first men on mars" work, these guys feel stressed and let down. Also, a little space batty. Tensions are high between the multi-national team and most of them are dicks to each other. So, nobody is surprised when the Russian lies about why he has to go outside one last time and they all freak out when he falls into a crack in the ground.

The crack in the ground has two things: proof of life on Mars and ... well, proof that this is a horror movie. You see, the bacteria they discover is the zombie plague. There is no way around it, this is a zombie movie, just one set in a wonderful looking space exploration movie. This follows all the tropes of a zombie movie to the cue: the dead come back to life and snarl & gargle while they try to bite you, if you get scratched or bitten you eventually die and change, and you have to bash them repeatedly in the head to stop them from moving. Talk about a sucky way to end your trip to Mars. Luckily, everybody dies off before the infection / bacteria / zombie horde can get back to the orbital ship and then... well, then it would actually become the answer all the other zombie movies were looking for --- where did the zombie plague come from?