“Get your ass to Mars!”
The Martian, our latest on screen journey to the red planet, will be released in theaters this weekend. And while, according to its stellar reviews, it may be our best trip to our celestial neighbor it’s by no means the only time we’ve visited. Films about Mars have been made for decades, each with their own approach to portraying the planet. We wanted to celebrate those visions in preparation for Sir Ridley Scott’s film this weekend.
So, strap in and get ready to blast off. Here are five of the most notable Mars movies:
Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)
In a way, The Martian is very much an unofficial remake of this film/book adaptation. Stranded on Mars with nothing more than his space suit and his ship’s test monkey Mona, Christopher “Kit” Draper must learn to find food and oxygen on the planet’s surface before he starves to death. Like The Martian, this films deals with having to figure out how to survive on Mars and the battle with prolonged isolation. Despite the claims of scientific authenticity (the 60s were so cute!), you can be guaranteed this one won’t be as true to science as Sir Ridley’s film.
This admittedly get pretty weird when aliens come into the picture, but it’s actually quite a good movie for the time and is remembered fondly. If you can find it, it’s certainly worth a watch.
Total Recall (1990)
One of the Arnold Schwarzenegger classics, this one plays fast and loose with physics in science in service of having some testosterone fueled fun. When Douglas Quaid decides to get memories implanted of a Mars vacation, his entire world is shattered when he becomes the center of a conspiracy involving the red planet. To survive and save the people of Mars, he must battle evil corporations, mutants, corrupt military, and worst of all… his ex-wife.
If you haven’t seen it, you have to check it out. It’s also one of the most quotable and gif friendly movies ever made. Seriously. Check out these gems:
How could you not want to see Arnold make all these faces?
Mission To Mars (2000)
Back in 2000, there was a “War of the Mars movies” at the box office between this film and Red Planet. Mission to Mars was the more heady of the two, telling the tale of an expedition sent to find out what happened to the first crew sent to Mars. Their mission (to Mars) leads them deep in the secrets of the planet and the past civilizations that once inhabited its surface.
Overall, it’s not a terrible film but rather dull. The cast is good, but aside from a few notable sequences there’s just not a lot of story there.
Red Planet (2000)
Unlike Mission To Mars, Red Planet is more concerned with being entertaining and sexy than really giving your mind a workout. Val Kilmer leads a stranded crew through the deserts of Mars, all the while trying to figure out how the planet suddenly has a breathable atmosphere. Along the way, they’ll have to brave the harsh terrain, their malfunctioning robot AMEE, and each other.
While we’d say Red Planet is about the same level of quality as Mission To Mars (as in, not great) we kind of like this one a little better. Yes, it’s a much dumber movie but it also has a sense of danger and fun that keeps you motivated to stick with it.
John Carter (2012)
The latest big budget film to take us to Mars, John Carter is something of a discarded work. It’s certainly not a bad film and has a really great sense of fun at times, but it doesn’t stand toe to toe with some of the elite blockbusters of the modern era. The victim of a regime change at Disney, the film was released with minimal marketing and kind of faded away.
Telling the story of a Civil War vet transported to Mars during the height of their own civil turmoil, John Carter must pick sides in the Mars conflict and confront his own inner demons to save his new friends.
Honestly, the movie is worth a watch if you want a big budget sci-fi movie that isn’t afraid to get weird. It’s not perfect, but overall it’s a fun flick that’s gotten a bad rap for its lackluster box office performance.
What’s your favorite Mars movie? Let us know in the comments!