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"JOHN CARPENTER'S GHOSTS OF MARS"
(2001) (Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube) (R)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Heavy Extreme Extreme *Moderate Extreme
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
Mild Moderate Heavy None Extreme
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Moderate Minor Mild Mild Extreme


QUICK TAKE:
Sci-fi: Police officers and criminals of the future band together to battle various homicidal colonists on Mars who are possessed by some ancient Martian spirit.
PLOT:
It's Mars, 2176, and 640,000 people now live in various outposts on the red planet, working in several mining operations and nearing completion of making the air completely breathable. When a train arrives in the city of Chryse on autopilot with only one survivor and scores of bodies in its wake, a colonial council opens an investigation into what occurred.

Accordingly, police officer Lt. Melanie Ballard (NATASHA HENSTRIDGE) is questioned about how she became that sole survivor and she then recounts her tale. It seems that a police transfer team headed by Commander Helena Braddock (PAM GRIER) and consisting of Ballard, Jericho (JASON STATHAM), Bashira (CLEA DUVALL) and Descanso (LIAM WHITE), arrived in the mining town of Shining Station to transport a prisoner, James "Desolation" Williams (ICE CUBE), back to Chryse.

Upon arriving in the town, however, the team discovers the prisoners still locked up, but all of the guards missing and/or dead. They soon learn from one of the few sane survivors, Professor Whitlock (JOANNA CASSIDY), that most all of the colonists have been possessed by an unleashed, ancient Mars spirit and have gone mad, forming angry mobs that follow a crazed leader and kill anyone who doesn't fit in with them.

As they then battle the crazed and homicidal colonists and deal with Williams and a trio of criminals -- Uno (DUANE DAVIS), Dos (LOBO SEBASTIAN) and Tres (RODNEY GRANT) - who've arrived to spring him from jail, Ballard and the others do what they can to survive and get themselves out of the town before the hordes overtake and kill them.

WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
If they're fans of someone in the cast, science fiction films and/or the work of John Carpenter ("Halloween," "John Carpenter's Vampires") they might, but male teens seem the likeliest audience among kids.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: R
For strong violence/gore, language and some drug content.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • NATASHA HENSTRIDGE plays a police officer who's assigned to transport a dangerous criminal who's located on Mars. She attempts to do so, but must not only deal with him, but also the hordes of possessed and homicidal colonists that she (and others) must kill to survive. She also takes some sort of illegal drug and uses strong profanity.
  • ICE CUBE plays a notorious and reportedly dangerous prisoner who stole some money and may have killed others (although he disputes that), uses strong profanity, and reluctantly joins forces with Ballard and the others to kill the attackers in order to survive.
  • JASON STATHAM plays another police officer stuck in the same situation who acts/reacts the same way as the others, uses some strong profanity and comes on to Melanie.
  • CLEA DUVALL plays a new member of the police escort force who likewise finds herself in a bad situation where she must kill or be killed.
  • PAM GRIER plays their leader who uses some profanity and is apparently a lesbian who comes on to Melanie.
  • LIAM WHITE plays another police officer.
  • JOANNA CASSIDY plays a science officer with some insight about what's occurring on the planet.
  • DUANE DAVIS, LOBO SEBASTIAN and RODNEY GRANT play Williams' comrades who arrive to free him by force but end up joining the cops in battling the attackers.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    Curious if this title is entertaining, any good, and/or has any artistic merit?
    Then read OUR TAKE of this film.


    (Note: The "Our Take" review of this title examines the film's artistic merits and does not take into account any of the possibly objectionable material listed below).


    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Here's a quick look at the content found in this R-rated sci-fi film. Violence is listed as extreme due to many people being killed in bloody and/or gory fashion, including but not limited to a great deal of gunfire, various beheadings - and the sight of many severed heads - explosions, and many instances of brutal and lethal hand-to-hand combat. Some of that material and other scenes may be unsettling or suspenseful to some viewers, and various characters have varying degrees of bad attitudes.

    Profanity is listed as extreme due to the use of at least 26 "f" words, while other expletives and colorful phrases are also present. Some explicit and non-explicit, sexually related dialogue is spoken, while both a man and woman separately come on to the female protagonist (who's briefly seen in her panties and tight tank-top in an unrelated scene). That character is also apparently a drug addict of some sort, and is high/hallucinating a few times from taking them.

    If you're still concerned about the film and its appropriateness for yourself or anyone else in your home who may be interested in seeing it, we suggest that you take a closer look at our detailed content listings for more specific examples of what's present and/or occurs in the film.


    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • It's reported that an illegal substance was found in Melanie's bloodstream.
  • Melanie takes a pill containing the above illegal substance and hallucinates from it (we see some of her visions). Helena later asks her if she's high and then states that she needs Melanie straight.
  • Melanie makes some comment about "money to burn, whores to f*ck and drugs to take" (referring to the locals).
  • Williams looks at Melanie and can tell that she's high.
  • Spotting his associate on the floor due to Melanie manhandling him, a man sarcastically tells him that since he's on the floor, why doesn't he get him a beer.
  • Melanie asks if a black market breather "gets you high" and Jericho responds that it turns your brain to Swiss cheese. We then see one man repeatedly breathing from that to get high (and he accidentally cuts off his thumb while that way).
  • After the Martian spirit infects Melanie, Jericho puts one of her pills (of the illegal drug she'd already been taking) into her mouth, stating that it should mess with anything inside her. She then reacts to the drug, has various visions, and the spirit eventually leaves her.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • We see a small cut on Melanie's neck.
  • Melanie and Jericho see blood on the wall and then spot more on the floor, including a smeared trail of it.
  • We see a severed forearm with a bloody/meaty end.
  • We see various, headless bodies hung upside down from the ceiling (with bloody hands).
  • A miscellaneous man slits his own throat open with a knife, causing blood to pour out.
  • Melanie has a tiny bit of blood from her nose after being punched.
  • We see what look liked severed fingers or pulled out teeth (with roots) inside something that's bloody.
  • We see a person with blood coming out of their mouth and many bloody cuts on their head.
  • We see a close-up of a very bloody face.
  • We see a flashback showing more people hanging upside down without their heads (but not seen in tremendously bloody detail) and some blood on their arms/hands.
  • We see many severed heads on poles and then see a woman drive a recently severed head down onto one of those poles/stakes.
  • The bad Martian leader has many bloody cuts on his face and is seen many times.
  • A person is decapitated and the head is held up with blood dripping from it.
  • A person who's shot is bloody.
  • We see a large needle/small rod of sorts that's run up through a person's cheek (under the skin with blood coming out).
  • We see various people hitting other people and then see more severed heads, along with hearing that faces were being cut off and worn as masks (and we then see someone putting someone else's skin on their own face).
  • A man scratches his face, resulting in bloody cuts/scrapes.
  • A man accidentally cuts off his own thumb (while high) with a large machete (we see the severed digit, blood squirting out, and then a bloody bandage around his hand).
  • A person stabs a spear into another man's chest, more people are shot and others then throw razor sharp discs, one of which cuts off a man's arm (with blood coming out) and then another decapitates him (we see the head come off).
  • A man has some blood from his mouth.
  • We see a man with deep and bloody gashes on his face.
  • We see a man with a bloody and charred face after he was briefly on fire.
  • A razor sharp disc decapitates a person (with blood squirting out) and another one cuts a man's throat, killing him (with blood squirting out).
  • We see Williams sewing up a bloody leg wound on Melanie.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • The attackers obviously have both for killing many people (although they're apparently under the control of the Martian spirit or spirits).
  • Jericho keeps trying to hit on Melanie (sexually).
  • Williams is a convicted criminal (of at least robbery and possibly murder), has both types of attitudes toward the police, and some of his thugs show up to break him out of jail at gunpoint.
  • Some thugs call the police "pigs."
  • Natalie lies to an investigatory council about how she ended up handcuffed inside the train.
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • Scenes listed under "Violence," "Blood/Gore" and "Jump Scenes" may also be unsettling, suspenseful or scary to some viewers, especially younger kids, but most all of it's played in a cartoon-like, "B" movie fashion (albeit a violent and gory one).
  • Melanie and Jericho see blood on the wall and then spot more on the floor, including a smeared trail of it. They then slowly make their way through this seemingly abandoned station with their weapons drawn.
  • Melanie slowly goes looking for Williams who's escaped with a shotgun.
  • Much of the film consists of Melanie and others battling with the crazed individuals and/or trying to elude them and make their way to safety.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Futuristic shotguns/machine guns/handguns/knives/swords/razor sharp discs: Carried and/or used to threaten, wound or kill others. See "Violence" for details.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • Phrases: "What the f*ck /is going on/happened/is this supposed to mean/do you mean?" "I want to get the f*ck out of here," "Who the f*ck are those clowns?" "You f*cking pr*cks," "Stop f*cking around," "Cut your f*cking t*tties off," "F*cked up," "You mindless m*therf*ckers," "It's a f*cked up situation," "F*ck him," "Whatever the f*ck he is," "See you later, you big m*therf*cker," "What are you going to do, f*cking shoot me?" "Sh*tty," "Oh, sh*t," "Do you think I'm falling for that sh*t?" "Bullsh*t," "You can believe that sh*t," "Don't bullsh*t me," "Bizarre ass," "I don't give a damn," "Whores," "What the hell /is going on around here/is going on out there/do you mean/is that/are they doing/was that/are you doing?" "Piss," "Balls" (testicles), "(Let's) get the hell out of here," "Bitch," "How the hell did that happen?" "Kick our ass," "Shut up," "Scumbags," "I'll be G*d damned," "Pigs" (police), "Dumb ass," "Hell, no," "Where the hell have you been?" and "Let's just kick some ass."
  • The Martian leader has many piercings in the skin of his chest.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • Another officer suddenly steps out in front of Jericho.
  • A prisoner suddenly comes up against some jail cell bars.
  • A man suddenly appears in the window of a vehicle.
  • A man suddenly tries to grab another person.
  • Accompanied by sudden music, a person suddenly tries to attack Melanie.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • A heavy amount of rock-oriented dramatic and suspenseful music plays in the film.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • At least 26 "f" words (4 used with "mother," 1 used sexually), 15 "s" words, 1 slang term using male genitals ("pr*ck"), 1 slang term for breasts ("t*tties"), 18 hells, 8 asses (2 used with "hole"), 4 damns, 2 uses of "God," and 1 use each of "G-damn," "Jesus," "Jesus Christ" and "Oh God" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • It's implied that Helena is a lesbian. When she tells Melanie that she needs her straight (and not on drugs), Melanie replies that she's "as straight as they come" (not referring to drugs). Helena then replies, "That's a shame" as she rubs Melanie's arm. Later, Melanie talks to Jericho and states that she knows she'll have to pay the price with Helena to get a promotion.
  • Melanie makes some comment about "money to burn, whores to f*ck and drugs to take" (referring to the locals).
  • Jericho tries coming on to Melanie and tells her that he has numerous hidden talents (said with a smirk) and that he'd miss the chance to give it a go with her. He then makes some comment that he was going to do her for free. In response, she tells him that maybe she'd sleep with him if he were the last man on Earth, but then adds that they're not on Earth.
  • A prisoner shows some cleavage.
  • Melanie comments on something only being eight inches, causing Jericho to reply that his case is different and that she'll appreciate what he has to offer (more of him hitting on her).
  • We briefly see what looked like a hand covering a bare breast.
  • Jericho comes on to Melanie again, stating a room they're in is rather cozy. He then states that it could be "our last chance to...uh...dance." She then goes up to him and they passionately kiss, but are interrupted before anything else happens.
  • We briefly see Melanie in her underwear and tight tank top.
  • SMOKING
  • A few miscellaneous characters smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • A man sees his brother killed during a battle (we learn their familial connection after the fact and his grieving is momentary at best).
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • Exploration and colonization of Mars and if/when that will ever take place.
  • Why no one of recent can make a good movie about Mars.
  • VIOLENCE
  • Melanie and Jericho see blood on the wall and then spot more on the floor, including a smeared trail of it as well as a severed forearm with a bloody/meaty end. Others find various, headless bodies hung upside down from the ceiling (thus showing the results of previous, unseen violence). We see other results of such violence throughout the film (severed heads on poles, etc.).
  • We see Whitlock's hot air balloon crashing to the ground and exploding.
  • Helena tries shooting open a lock with her gun.
  • A miscellaneous man slits his own throat open with a knife, causing blood to pour out.
  • Williams holds a knife to Bashira's throat as he tries to escape, while someone holds a gun on him. Melanie arranges for him to exchange Bashira for her, and after that occurs, he then holds his knife to her. She then suddenly hits and kicks him, and we then see her point of view as he punches her.
  • A person tries to strike Melanie with a shovel, resulting in her punching and hitting that person several times (sounding like she breaks his arm). Williams then arrives and hits this man, striking him many times in the face with the butt of his shotgun.
  • A crazed woman attacks Williams, prompting Melanie to shoot and kill the attacker.
  • The Martian leader stabs someone with a sword of sorts (we don't see the impact).
  • A person is decapitated and the head is held up with blood dripping from it.
  • Melanie slams Whitlock back into a wall, wanting information from her.
  • A person attacks Whitlock, causing Bashira to try to use a stun stick on them. That person then knocks her down, hitting her several times before Melanie repeatedly shoots the attacker.
  • Some men grab Jericho and hold their guns on him.
  • We see various people hitting other people and then see more severed heads, along with hearing that faces were being cut off and worn as masks (and we then see someone putting someone else's skin on their own face).
  • Various men hold their guns on the cops.
  • Williams elbows one of his own men in the gut.
  • After one of Williams' henchmen makes a threatening comment to Melanie, she punches him in the throat and then bends his arm back around him.
  • A building explodes.
  • A crazed man throws a razor-sharp disc that hits a man in the head, knocking him down and presumably killing him.
  • Williams races into a group of crazed colonists, randomly spraying them with machine gun fire. Others then join him, shooting machine guns and shotguns at the attackers, killing or wounding many (but no blood). An explosion then knocks many people into the air, while more shooting occurs and the good guys also hit the bad ones (with their guns) as they try to hit or slice them.
  • More people are killed or hit, and a grenade is thrown that explodes and sends bodies flying.
  • A person stabs a spear into another man's chest, more people are shot and others then throw razor sharp discs, one of which cuts off a man's arm (with blood coming out) and then another decapitates him (we see the head come off).
  • More buildings explode and/or are on fire.
  • There are more explosions.
  • Bashira shoots and kills an infected man.
  • A crazed person suddenly tries to attack Melanie and she fights with him, kicking him as he tries to slice her. She then apparently breaks his leg several times.
  • Williams and Jericho hold their weapons on a person they suspect could be infected by the spirit.
  • After the infected people get into a compound via a large battering ram, Melanie and others take turns shooting and killing many members of the advancing horde. They also use detonators on them that explode around them, resulting in a large number of infected people being killed.
  • During this, a canister of some sort explodes after being shot, catching one infected man on fire.
  • We then see hand-to-hand combat between the infected and those who aren't, with brutal hitting and stabbing taking place.
  • More buildings explode.
  • There's more gunfire and explosions as part of the group tries to distract the crazed group away from the others, with more crazed people being shot and others being killed. During this, Melanie is wounded and falls to the ground, while more hand-to-hand combat occurs.
  • A razor sharp disc decapitates a person (and blood squirts out), we hear the sounds of the crazed mob attacking another person (but don't see the impact), and a razor sharp disc cuts a man's throat, killing him (with blood squirting out).
  • A crazed man fights with Williams, while Melanie fights with another man (with kicking, hitting and throwing around). A person is kicked from the train and part of it - now detached - explodes, killing another man.
  • A nuclear explosion blows up an outpost, presumably killing many crazed colonists with it.



  • Reviewed August 6, 2001 / Posted August 24, 2001

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