A Brief History Of Mars In The Movies

The latest epic adventure from Andrew Stanton, the Academy Award-winner who brought us such animated delights as Finding Nemo and Wall-E, has been met with a mixed reception from critics.

The film, John Carter, is based (loosely) on A Princess Of Mars, a novel written by Edgar Rice Burroughs back in 1912. It tells the story of war-weary, former military captain (Taylor Kitsch) who is somewhat inexplicably transported to Mars when he comes across a golden amulet.

Unfortunately for John, he gets embroiled in an intergalactic battle between two Mars-dwelling tribes and ends up falling for the Princess Dejah Thoris (played by the much more sensibly named, Lynn Collins) from one of the opposing tribes. Naturally, chaos ensues etc.

As a tribute to the setting of this big-screen-special-effects-marathon, we have compiled a list of the most intriguing representations of the red planet. So buckle up and prepare yourself for some breathtakingly bad SFX.

John Carter (2012)

First up, let’s take a look at the inspiration behind this feature. Coming straight from the Pixar studios, this is the exception to the bad SFX rule with the planet’s four-armed Tharks and be-tusked Warhoons all masterfully crafted. The clip below is a particularly impressive example – it’s John Carter vs. a huge white ape.

Doom (2005)

Based on the computer game of the same name and starring the unlikely duo of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Rosamund Pike, this is a terrible film. But it’s set on Mars, so….

Ghosts Of Mars (2001)

John Carpenter’s sci-fi creation tells the story of human possessed by evil Martian ghosts. Cue lots of shouting and Jason Statham in a pair of wraparound swim goggles.

Mission To Mars (2000)

Tim Robbins went from a role in one of the most beloved films of ALL time, to taking a role in this Brian De Palma bizarrity several years later. Along with Don Cheadle and Connie Nielsen, Robbins blasts himself into space in order to bring back any survivors from a failed mission to the red planet.

Red Planet (2000)

Starring Val Kilmer and Carrie Anne Moss (back in the days when The Matrix gave her a free pass into ANY sci-fi thriller), this film follows the plight of a team of astronauts trying desperately to save planet Earth by taking a trip to Mars. SPOILER: Things do not go to plan.

Mars Attacks! (1996)

Not set on Mars but offering its own unique interpretation of what life from Mars would do to our lil’ planet. One of the stronger films on the list, not least because Jack Nicholson is in it as the president of the USA – no dystopia in our book!

Flash Gordon’s Trip To Mars (1938)

These Martians may look horrendous in their rubber getup, but their middle-American accents maks them sound more likely to read the headlines than attack our hero. An intergalactic classic starring Buster Crabbe as the titular hero and Charles Middleton as the terrifying Emperor Ming. No, he really is scary.