My Favourite Movies That Were Set On Mars

“The Martian” (2015)

Matt Damon shows once again why he’s one of the top actors in the solar system as he plays astronaut Mark Watney, who is stranded alone on Mars after the rest of his team is forced to flee the planet due to a massive dust storm. The film is directed by Ridley Scott (“Alien”), who certainly knows a thing or two about making great space films, and features an all-star cast that includes Jessica Chastain, Jeff Daniels and Kristen Wiig. It’s based on the novel of the same name by Bay Area native Andy Weir.

“Mission to Mars” (2000)

Sure, it might only be the 173rd best film based on a Disney attraction, yet we’ll watch anything directed by horror master Brian De Palma (“Carrie,” “Scarface”) and this tale of a Mars mission gone wrong is pretty intriguing. It also features a star-studded cast that includes Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle, Connie Nielsen, Jerry O’Connell and Kim Delaney. (Available on several platforms.)

“Ghosts of Mars” (2001)

Remember what we said about De Palma? It goes double for John Carpenter, even when the legendary “Halloween” director delivers such an uneven oddity as this box office bomb starring Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham and Pam Grier. Yet, we’re charmed by the film’s campiness, which may or may not have been intentional. (Available on several platforms.)

“Total Recall” (1990)

Arnold Schwarzenegger was at the peak of his career in the early 90s and was one of the era’s most sought-out action heroes. Having starred in a sci-fi blockbuster, Terminator, in 1984, destiny called him again to star in yet another sci-fi classic, Total Recall. Based on the novelette We Can Remember It for You Wholesale by Philip K. Dick, the film follows Douglas Quid, who is troubled by visions of himself on Mars. Taking up a memory implant, things change drastically, and so does the very existence of his previous life. Apart from being the classic sci-fi 90s movie with a few sprinkles of explicit content, the film dives deeper into many philosophical and political layers that make one question the very essence of humankind.

John Carter (2012)

Living in 1868, Confederate soldier John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) discovers a medallion after a run-in with an extra-terrestrial and uses it to travel to Mars. Carter’s unique physiology gifts him supernatural abilities while on the planet, and he uses them to fight bad guys and rescue the princess. While John Carter was a box office bomb, it is far from a bad movie. It is a visual treat as Carter escapades around the dusty planet and a good adaptation of the Barsoom novels it is based on. Disney hoped the movie would lead to its next big franchise, but its box office failure quickly killed those plans.

“Red Planet” (2000)

Coming out the same year as Mission to Mars and with a similar premise, Val Kilmer stars with a robot Cujo in another movie about an expedition to the red planet and the discovery of life there. Due to  an ecological crisis on Earth. As part of the first stage of terraforming, automated interplanetary missions seeded Mars with atmosphere-producing algae. The crew of Mars-1 is dispatched to investigate when the oxygen produced by the algae mysteriously decreases. The movie, which also stars Carrie-Ann Moss, Benjamin Bratt & Simon Baker,  was a critical and commercial failure and is Hoffman’s only feature film to date.

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