In "John Carter" (2012), the latest movie about the planet Mars, special effects wizards created an amazing visual feast of gigantic, scary monsters and other treats. Mars has been depicted in the movies in many ways over the years. Here are six memorable movies about Mars, each with a unique view of the red planet on film.
"A Trip to Mars" (1910)
Thomas Edison's short film "A Trip to Mars" is the first depiction of the mysterious planet in the history of the movies. Edison's vision of Mars includes scary tree monsters and "reverse gravity" that allows a wayward scientist to walk upside down on the bottom of the planet. A gigantic Martian finally blows our hero back home to Earth from the palm of his hand.
"Just Imagine" (1930)
This musical comedy imagines what life will be like in 1980 (completely unreal, of course) and then spends the last third of the movie on Mars. Once there, three earthlings meet the King and Queen, who take them to a party where the entertainment consists of dance numbers by scantily clad women who love really fat, older men. They learn that everyone on Mars has an evil twin and they finally escape. This movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Art Direction.
"Robinson Crusoe on Mars" (1964)
In this fun flick, an astronaut and a monkey are the only survivors of a spaceship crash on Mars and must find a way to survive with no oxygen, water, or food. As he explores the planet, the astronaut learns that alien beings have turned it into a slave planet for mining. One slave escapes, is renamed "Friday," and helps Crusoe flee through underground Martian canals to a polar icecap, where they wait to be rescued.
"Total Recall" (1990)
In this sci-fi thriller based on a Philip K. Dick story, Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a construction worker who keeps dreaming he is a secret agent from Mars. When he tries to take part in a virtual experience, the technician finds his memory has been wiped, and he is then pursued by old friends and his (fake) wife to Mars.
On the red planet, Schwarzenegger goes to a red-light district of mutant humans, meets a girl, and they and other Martians fight off his pursuers. He in turn helps them obtain fresh air and fight off their oppressors while continuing to wonder if it's real or all a dream.
"Mission to Mars" (2000)
Probably the best feature of Brian de Palma's "Mission to Mars" is the score by Ennio Morcone, alongside songs by Van Halen and Buckwheat Zydeco. Despite negative reviews, the movie was a blockbuster hit based mainly on its spectacular digital special effects.
A giant dome on the planet sends out a beacon to space that leaves only one survivor, who must then be rescued by a six-man team. Mystical and metaphysical events then occur that lead to an unexpected ending.
"Cowboy Bebop: The Movie" (2003)In the year 2071, the Bebop crew of bounty hunters must act to stop a deadly virus on their home planet of Mars and the murder of members of the planetary government. Soon, they learn the fate of the planet rests in their hands.
This movie is loved by most fans of the anime genre. It won the 2004 Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Animated Feature.
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