Length: 98 minutes
Release Date: August 24, 2001
Directed by: John Carpenter
Genre: Action / Horror / Sci-Fi
“Ghost of Mars” is a science fiction thriller starring Jason Statham and Natasha Henstridge as police officers dispatched to transport a prisoner. After arriving at the prison, they soon realize that deadly ghosts have been unleashed and are possessing the bodies of humans. When their team members are killed off one by one, it is up to them to save the human race.
“Ghost of Mars” is set in the 22nd century on the planet Mars. After humans changed the atmosphere of the planet, it is now inhabitable and safe for humans. To keep the planet free of violent crime, there is a large police force. Two officers – officer Melanie Ballard and Sergeant Jericho – are sent to pick up a prisoner in a deserted mining town.
Upon arrival, the officers find a seemingly deserted town. Soon though, the prisoner informs them that an underground doorway was opened and ghosts that took possession of the minors’ bodies were released. Since the prisoner and others held at the jail were held in captivity, they are the only survivors.
Soon after, the possessed miners begin attacking Melanie, Jericho and the prisoner. After shooting and killing some of the miners, the officers discover that killing the bodies they possess only makes them leave and then enter yet another body.
By the end of the day, nearly all of the humans have been possessed by the ghosts. To kill all of the ghosts simultaneously, Melanie and Jericho set off a nuclear reactor. Thinking the ghosts are now gone, they return and give their report to their superiors, who are incredulous. Although Mars appears to be safe for humans, the ghosts manage to escape and invade the rest of the planet.
The two lead characters – Melanie and Jericho – are very demanding roles, as the characters are tested both physically and mentally throughout the film. Jason Statham , who plays Jericho, shows just why he has been cast in a string of action-oriented roles in recent years. He effortlessly transitions from fighting ghosts with nuclear weapons to comforting his fellow officer. Natasha Henstridge nails the role of Melanie and keeps pace with Statham in a seemingly effortless way. Although the characters are not outwardly involved in a romantic relationship in the movie, the on-screen chemistry in undeniable.
Although the majority of “Ghosts of Mars” takes place during a single day, the audience is fully introduced to the latest planet colonized by humans. The dialogue between the two lead characters explains the government structure and Martian society. The inclusion of the background information is essential to the story, and it is also fascinating to get an in-depth perspective of director John Carpenter’s vision of what an inhabitable Mars would look like.
To explain the existence of the ghosts and the motivation for possessing humans, the film uses short flashbacks to show the history of the planet and how the ghosts were unleashed by a curious scientist. Since the action in the film is not interrupted by the explanation and details of the backstory, the pace of the movie is consistently quick and aside from the first 10 minutes, there is a near constant flow of action sequences.
“Ghost of Mars” has great special effects, especially when it comes to the ghosts possessing humans. All the humans that become inhabited by ghosts go through transformations that completely change their appearances. The actors playing the miners do a great job with perfecting the role of possessed human, as even their movements and facial expressions change once they are transformed.
Aside from the story and the characters, the setting is realistic in a futuristic way. Most of the events take place in the jail and the mine, so there are twists and turns and dark shadows keeping the suspense going. The set design also has a lot of great detail. The red sand and murky atmosphere come together to make a realistic-looking planet Mars.
The film comes to a close in a way that seems a little too perfect and for good reason. Order is restored and Melanie and Jericho make it back to their station safely without any further trouble. However, the action picks right back up again where it left off. The plot twist is completely unexpected and it leads up to the perfect ending.
“Ghost of Mars” has a unique plot that is brought to life by the great acting of Jason Statham and Natasha Henstridge. From the setting to the explanation of how humans maintain life on Mars, John Carpenter creates a detailed and interesting film. With just enough futuristic elements and action sequences, “Ghost of Mars” is a great thriller.
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