On the last day of the first manned mission to Mars, a crew member of Tantalus Base believes he's made an historic discovery; fossilised evidence of bacterial life. Unwilling to let the relief crew claim the glory, he disobeys orders to pack up, and goes out on an unauthorised expedition to collect further samples. But a routine excavation turns to disaster, when the porous ground collapses, and he falls into a deep crevice and near certain death. His devastated colleagues attempt to recover his body. However, when another vanishes, they begin to realise; the life-form they've discovered is highly dangerous to all human life. Written by
THE LAST DAYS ON MARS is a surprisingly well-made film about things we've already seen before. And that's the charm that makes it worth watching. To begin with, the film is brisk (1 1/2 hours) and doesn't waste much time in telling its story. Even the few moments of quiet contemplation of life/death don't overstay their welcome. The characters don't make stupid decisions, but they do make them with little motivation.
The film is essentially a cross between 28 DAYS LATER and THE THING, but the film is aware of its influences and doesn't try to reinvent the wheel. If anything, it strips them down to the foundation and goes with a simple explanation that feels more believable than 28 DAYS LATER. The film takes the technology seriously without turning it into a spectacle. It kind of reminds me of RED PLANET in that sense, but it doesn't depend on CGI spectacle to lend undeserved importance. The film very simply suggests that the characters be taken as real people who are reacting to the situation in front of them, just on a different planet where the rules of survival are equally alien.
TLDOM is worth watching because of the skill and confidence of the people making it. Perhaps the only thing holding it back from the attention it deserves is that in spite of that skill, it doesn't have anything different to say.
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