August 2001
John Carpenter’s “Ghosts of Mars” : Is there a Ghostbuster in the House?

John Carpenter’s “Ghosts of Mars” - Is there a Ghostbuster in the House?

Scene from Ghosts of Mars I have seen an hour and 45 minute glimpse of the future and it ain’t pretty. For those of you concerned that there might not be any black folk in 2176 AD, fear not brothers like Ice Cube and sisters like Pam Grier are all part of the population on the now human inhabited Mars. That is the good news. The bad news is a brother still can’t get a break from the police as Ice Cube can attest. On a temporary side note however, Latinos and Latinas you also are present on the planet of Mars. I know after seeing “A.I.” and almost every other science fiction movie there is a concern among people of color whether or not we go the way of the dinosaurs. But I digress.

The film is a series of flashbacks that recount the strange events that surround a seemingly routine transport of a prisoner. The prisoner James “Desolation” Williams (Ice Cube) has established himself as one of Mars most wanted. Sadly, in 2176 brothers are still using the product of my environment alibi. I guess that Scene from Ghosts of Mars reparations bill did not pass. However, when the police team assembled to bring the convict in arrives at Shining Canyon they find a multitude of slaughtered bodies. Commander Helena Braddock (Pam Grier) leads the team into the unknown ghost town. They begin the process of trying to uncover the events that have led to this point and like most cops they blame Ice Cube. The hypothesis is tested as members of the team begin to dwindle. Catch Pam Grier quick because if you blink you might miss her. With Braddock gone Lt. Melanie Ballard (Natasha Henstridge) assumes command. Fortunately, she is pretty sharp and recognizes that something is not right. Because of her “ingenuity”, she recognizes that another prisoner knows more than she is admitting to the police team. Professor Whitlock (Joanna Cassidy) finally confesses that she has let a dormant Martian scourge escape from an archeological dig site. Guess what? They are pissed and they are taking names and kicking booty. Ballard with the assistance of the horny Jericho (Jason Stratham) recognizes that they are outnumbered by the Martian enemy and enlists “Desolation’s” posse to help them fight the formerly hibernating aliens. Yes, convicts and cops working together. Suffice it to say there is a lot of killing and very little character development. Scene from Ghosts of Mars

In a film that conceptually blends multiple genres (westerns, sci-fi, horror) the potential for an entertaining film loomed large. Unfortunately, it fails miserably. The aliens are better suited for a Kiss concert or convention rather than Mars. Furthermore, for 175 years in the future we have not come that far in regards to weaponry. The dialogue is miserable. For example, Henstridge’s character is found saying, “It’s not their planet anymore. It’s ours.” Whoah, that’s deep. Sounds vaguely reminiscent of the eradication of Native Americans. As for the original inhabitants of the planet the best dialogue they can muster is akin to one going through root canal without anesthesia. Ice Cube deserves a better role and better dialogue than what he gets here. Henstridge is not convincing as the leader of this group as her drug habit is a weird side bar to the movie that I cannot even pretend to offer an explanation. I wish I could find a positive thing to say about this one, but I cannot. Wait a minute, Stratham’s accent is cool for a while. No, on second thought, I did not have to pay to see this one, and I would advise the rest of the blackfilm.comers to do the same.


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