Thursday, July 17, 2003

ghosts of mars: vintage carpenter {a review in staccato}

Ghosts of Mars is John Carpenter doing (a la high concept) an "Assault on Precinct 13 in space". That last film was in-turn a stylized metropolitan upgrade of Rio Bravo (reminder courtesy PhobosWeb). Reminiscent of Id Software's classic Doom (perhaps because of the gung-ho kill-'em-all spirit and the setting on Mars). Carpenter comes up with an entertaining bricolage, as he efficiently sticks to his low-budget roots, shooting in a New Mexico gypsum mine (coloured red with a bio-degradable dye). He even composes the score (again) for this one -- getting Anthrax, Buckethead and Steve Vai (curiously uncredited, but seen in the Scoring-Of mini-documentary). Appropriate music for the tone and mood of the film. Natasha Henstridge makes a great feminine version of Snake Pliskken (Kurt Russell).

On the downside, Pam Grier is wasted in a brief role. There's not too much in the straight-line story and Carpenter barely makes up for it with a curious narrative style: flashbacks, flashbacks-within-flashbacks, and even a flashback-within-a-flashback-within-a-flashback. However, you can't shake off that uneasy feeling that you've seen all of it (and parts thereof) several other places before (and a lot of them, thanks to Carpenter).

Goodies: Two compact little mini-documentaries on the shooting and the scoring of the film.

a critical review of the film {Senses Of Cinema}

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