The year's third everything-goes-wrong-in-space thriller is its second best, stripped of the dewy self-helpisms of its better, Gravity, and the limiting found-footage approach of its brainy/dumb lesser, Europa Report. Ruairi Robinson's The Last Days on Mars doesn't monkey with any of that NASA–approved, Neil deGrasse Tyson–pleasing speculative-fiction realism. Instead, it's just zombies versus an international research station on the wastes of the Red Planet, with all that such a premise promises: the thrill of the discovery of new life, the terror when that new life wants to eat all the old life, plus all the usual troubles with helmets, airlocks, a ship in orbit, and the competing interests of squabbling scientists, all written more as Earthlings than people. Their base even has one of those hilariously cursed names cribbed from myth: the Tantalus. Why not just go with the Chutzpah? The first half plays out by the numbers, with undead astronauts popping open the fragile bubble protecting the crew, but there's some grandeur to the second, especially when Liev Schreiber's stoic joe grunts through impossible decisions affecting the course of human existence. He and Romola Garai find intelligent life in boilerplate scenes of worried folks wondering if they might be infected with the worst of all contagions.
Ruairi RobinsonLiev Schreiber, Romola Garai, Elias Koteas, Olivia Williams, Johnny Harris, Goran Kostic, Tom Cullen, Yusra WarsamaSydney J. Bounds, Clive DawsonAndrea Cornwell, Michael KuhnMagnolia Pictures