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Film: Red Planet

Red Planet is a 2000 Science Fiction film starring Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss and a robot with a bad case of multiple personality disorder.

In 2056 AD, Earth is in ecologic crisis as a consequence of pollution, it's an The End of the World as We Know It story with a twist. Missions have been seeding Mars with atmosphere-producing algae for twenty years as the first stage in terraforming the planet. When the oxygen quantity produced by the algae is inexplicably reduced, the crew investigates, and must continue the mission of terraforming the planet for human colonization.

Not to be confused with a more fancifully-plotted film about a trip to Mars, released in the same year.


Provides Examples Of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: AMEE(Autonomous Mapping Exploration and Evasion). It's not really her fault, however - who leaves military combat software on a robot on a civilian mission? All it took was a few hard bumps and she was back in combat mode. Averted with Lucy, though.
  • All There in the Manual: Only Santen's first name is mentioned in the film. All the rest are to be found in the DVD extras.
  • Almighty Janitor / Everybody Calls Him Barkeep: While Gallagher is "mechanical systems engineer", everyone calls him janitor. More or less his job in the mission is form of advanced space janitor and he's the one with superb engineering skills in the landing crew.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen : At some points.
  • Artificial Gravity: Most of it is really well made and researched.
  • Artistic License - Astronomy: For a full and detailed list of what's wrong with this movie, see the Bad Astronomy article (warning: spoilers). Surprisingly, many things were done correctly.
  • Artistic License - Biology: The explanation of the origin of the bugs and how they function. Also, they're called "nematodes". Nematodes are worms in Real Life.
  • Asshole Victim: Santen.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Sure, bring a combat robot on a mission of science. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Bittersweet Ending: The world is saved. Too bad about all the dead astronauts, two of whom were killed by the world-saving bugs.
  • Chekhov's Gun: All over the place, from Rob's tinkering to AMEE's modes and strange personality traits in the crew.
  • Chemistry Can Do Anything : The algae stuff.
    • Which is more than plausable in given setting.
  • Collapsible Helmet: Suits used by landing crew are equpped with those.
  • Continue Your Mission, Dammit!: Chantilas says this, in fact many of the characters say this rather a lot.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Even stabilising a cracked rib.
  • Dying Alone: Chantilas, so much. Also Gallagher is afraid of doing so in the end.
  • Eaten Alive: Defied. Poor Quinn decides to go out with a bang instead of letting the bugs finish him off slowly and painfully.
  • Enemy Rising Behind: AMEE is chasing Pettengill. He knows that way too much. But he doesn't know from where to expect her until last moment, when he turns right toward her during attack.
  • Exact Time to Failure: Mars-1 is on decaying orbit and Kate is using fuel meant for return trip to slow down the decay. It's stated early on that if she won't start journey back to Earth in 36 hours, she simply won't have enough fuel to do so. Then we got the astronauts trapped on Mars with no supplies. Not only they will be abandoned if they won't reach the probe on time, but soon after they will die out of dehydration, thus making the whole plot a Race Against the Clock.
  • Five-Man Band: Landing crew follow this trope
  • Flipping the Bird: Gallagher is flipping one toward the whole planet
  • Forced to Watch: Inverted. When Gallagher's air supply runs out, he starts to suffocate right in front of Burchenal and Pettengill, who will soon run out of air too. They try not to watch, but they can still hear Gallagher, as they can't block the com-link with him.
  • Foreshadowing: Burchenal says that sooner or later he will find out what happened to the algae. He did, in very unpleasant way.
  • Fragile Speedster: AMEE the Robot is tough, but she can get blown away by the wind if she's not careful.
  • Gaia's Lament: By all accounts, Earth of 2056 AD.
  • Gender Is No Object: Kate Bowman, mission's commanding officer and captain of the ship. No-one ever questions her position because of being a woman. Not even Santen.
  • Ghost Planet: Mars obviously.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Quinn lights himself and the bugs and the algae on fire so they won't eat Rob, allowing Rob to escape to the shuttle.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Burchenal, in ignorant scientist flavour. On the other side of the equation is the faith-espousing Chantilas, with whom we're obviously meant to agree when he says that "science can't answer any of the really interesting questions."
  • I Will Only Slow You Down: Chantilas, after suffering significant internal injuries early on.
  • In Space Everyone Can See Your Face: Averted. Lights are placed on the suit, not inside helmets.
  • Jerkass: Both Santen and Pettengill, with escalating conflict between them.
  • Just a Machine: Though never directly stated, it's obvious that the human characters regard AMEE as this when the surviving crew members start casually discussing plans to disassemble her and use her parts (effectively killing her) to build the communication device they need to contact their ship in orbit. Unfortunately, AMEE is standing right beside them, with her "military mode" switch broken, and hears the entire conversation, which is what prompts her to go rogue.
  • Kill It with Fire : The bugs.
    • AMEE too.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Pettengill's death.
    • Santen's too for that matter.
  • MacGyvering: Rob's gadgeteering saves his life throughout the movie.
  • Macho Macho Man: Santen. One could wonder how he became second-in-command with all his quirks.
  • Mars: No duh.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Actually, Meaningful Foreground Event. If you look very closely in one of the earlier scenes, you can see one of the bugs in the foreground as the camera pans across the landscape.
  • Mission Control: Houston is literal one for the mission. Kate became one for rest of the astronauts.
  • Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Solid 5, bordering 5.5 in many aspects.
  • Mr. Exposition: Chantilas. Burchenal also got his moments.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Kate Bowman is as attractive as she is decisive. She's also shown in a shower.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Well, some of the crew feel this way towards the rest of humanity.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Invoked in-universe. Kate is not afraid of dying - what really scares her is that she might travel back to Earth alone. For half a year.
  • Orifice Invasion / Orifice Evacuation: One of the dead astronauts gets this treatment with the bugs. The Squick level is astronomical.
  • Pillar of Light: Each suit got strange, green light on it. It's purpose becames obvious when Pettengill is killed and the only way to find his body (and radio) is finding a light beacon comming from his suit.
  • Precision F-Strike: Gallagher delivers a positively epic one before leaving Mars via the Kosmos probe.
    Gallagher: FUCK THIS PLANET!!!
  • Product Placement: But done in very tactful way. Many viewers don't notice it, not even after watching the film few times.
  • Psychological Horror: Very arguable, but much of the horror elements of the film is due to the thought of being abandoned on Mars while running out of oxygen. The killer robot plot doesn't kick in until after the halfway mark in the movie.
    • In-universe, AMEE is programmed to employ psychological horror tactics.
  • Sanity Slippage: The Robot AMEE, kinda.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Commander Kate Bowman, the lone astronaut on a stricken interplanetary spacecraft. Thankfully, her ship's AI is less insane.
    • During the scene where AMEE skulks about, looking for the crew, the same music is played as in Pitch Black when Riddick leads the survivors of a ship crash across a barren planet. The music was done by the same guy - Graeme Revell.
    • The Mars Pathfinder Lander and Sojourner rover not only appear but are also critical to the plot. The Russian Mars probe may also be a subtle Take That to Russia's less than stellar record with Mars missions.
    • The MEV lander also uses the airbag system used by Pathfinder and the later Mars Exploration Rovers.
    • Look closely at the giant space station in the intro. It's an expanded version of the real life International Space Station.
    • It's not the first time that actress Carrie-Anne Moss has to whip a misbehaving machine to keep it from killing her and her crew.
  • Shown Their Work: While there are quite a few science and physics gaffes, things such as counter-spinning artificial gravity rings for the ship are signs of better-than average technical consulting. There's also the time delay between Earth to Mars communications that's used to dramatic advantage.
  • Starship Luxurious
  • Super-Powered Robot Meter Maids: AMEE is pretty deadly for a scouting robot, isn't she? She was originally a military scouting robot; pretty much all of her lethality is the result of programming.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Quite a bit between Kate and Rob. The movie's last words imply that such tension will be fixed on the return home.

Ready To RumbleFilms of 2000 - 2004 Reindeer Games
MoontrapScience Fiction FilmsSilent Running

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