Sad, in a way, that it’s all just…sort of OK. Workmanlike. Not a disaster, nothing to be ashamed of. We leave A, reach B and move on to C. There is a pretty decent central performance from Amber Heard and a few genuine jumps. There is also a nice, schlocky bow tied around the story. It doesn’t have the air of outright laziness that Village of the Damned displayed.
Still, it is an empty experience. I switched it off the first time I tried it, around three years ago, a little depressed by the painfully everyday opening scene. Much of this movie is, sad to say, interchangable with a season-padding episode of Buffy, or an X files or some other 90s box-set fare. Pushing through to the end, it turns out, is just about worth it – if you weren’t judging it on John Carpenter terms.
Things are so business like, you almost miss the usual late-period Carpenter flaws. We are not overburdened with redundant characters cluttering up the screen. We’re not subjected to intrusive music (John said he was too old to compose it). There is an underused talent, in Jared Harris, but there is no other part going begging for him, as is so often the case in other late Carpenter.
John, we sense, is taking it seriously enough – and having absolutely no fun at all. Can Ghosts of Mars at least give me that?