(director/writer: John Carpenter; screenwriter: Larry Sulkis; cinematographer: Gary Kibbe; editor: Warschika; music: John Carpenter/Anthrax; cast:  Pam Grier (Commander Helena Braddock), Ice Cube (Desolation Williams), Nancy Henstridge (Lt. Melanie Ballard), Jason Statham (Sgt. Jericho Butler), Joanna Cassidy(Whitlock), Liam Waite (Michael Decanso), Clea DuVall (Bashira Kincaid), Richard Cetrone (Big Daddy Mars), Rosemary Forsyth (Inquistor), Duane Davis (Uno), Lobo Sebastian (Dos), Rodney A. Grant (Tres); Runtime: 98; MPAA Rating: R; producer: Sandy King; Screen Gems/Sony; 2001)

Lacks taste or anything innovative.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

The genre films of John Carpenter (“The Thing”/”Halloween”) have continued to descend in quality over the years. No longer able to direct major cult films, Carpenter now puts out either merely decent or bad films, seemingly losing his gift as a storyteller. This is one of his enjoyable bad films he co-writes with Larry Sulkis. It’s a futuristic sci fi/horror film, one that lacks taste or anything innovative.

2176, Mars is a colonized matriarchal society and has been transformed to a mostly Earth-like atmosphere. The murderer Desolation Williams (Ice Cube) is in a jail cell in a remote mining town, Shining Canyon, on Mars, and is to be brought back to Chryse City, the headquarters for the Mars police force, by train to receive punishment. But the train returns with only one survivor, Lieutenant Melanie Ballard (Nancy Henstridge, former model), badly hurt and chained to a bedpost and no trace of the prisoner.

In front of a superior (
Rosemary Forsyth), Ballardtells of how her cop squad when arriving found the town deserted with all the locals decapitated and hung upside down. In the jail, Ballard locates Williams. They learn that the ghosts of Mars, dressed as punk rockers, were recently released from a tomb. They wish no more visitors and do their evil spiritual thing of mass killings. Ballard realizes to escape from the ghosts she needs help from the bad ass killer dude and some of his hardened jailbird friends, as they take on the ghosts. When the cop commander (Pam Grier) is killed, Ballard takes command. The gist of the film fills us in on the routine action scenes and her unconvincing romance with one of the most obnoxious cops in her squad (Jason Statham).

Lacking originality, the derivative film seems
like a science-fiction version of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 (1976).

REVIEWED ON 7/17/2017       GRADE: C+