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Ghosts of Mars (2001)



Average Rating: 3.7/10
Reviews Counted: 103
Fresh: 22 | Rotten: 81

John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars is not one of Carpenter's better movies, filled as it is with bad dialogue, bad acting, confusing flashbacks, and scenes that are more campy than scary.


Average Rating: 3.6/10
Critic Reviews: 24
Fresh: 5 | Rotten: 19

John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars is not one of Carpenter's better movies, filled as it is with bad dialogue, bad acting, confusing flashbacks, and scenes that are more campy than scary.



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Average Rating: 2.4/5
User Ratings: 44,350

My Rating

Movie Info

Writer and director John Carpenter returns to the mixture of science fiction and horror that made The Thing (1982) a success. Natasha Henstridge stars as Lt. Melanie Ballard of the Martian Police Force, a member of a law enforcement team two centuries in the future, dispatched to the remote colony of Shining Canyon. There, the most notorious criminal on Mars, James "Desolation" Williams (Ice Cube), awaits transport to a more secure jail. Besides Ballard, the other cops include the rookie Bashira

Dec 4, 2001


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All Critics (117) | Top Critics (27) | Fresh (22) | Rotten (81) | DVD (31)

Written, directed, and edited with the offhand shoddiness of a day worker thinking about his evening beer.

August 28, 2001 Full Review Source: Village Voice
Village Voice
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Someday we're all going to look back on this one and l-a-a-a-augh.

August 27, 2001
Mr. Showbiz
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The acting is so pallid that you're never sure the cast members quite get the jokes.

August 27, 2001 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
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Schlocky, sluggish shoot-'em-up.

August 24, 2001
Washington Post
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A flawed but worthy effort from an auteur whose near-misses are more entertaining than many others' hits.

August 24, 2001 Full Review Source: Seattle Times
Seattle Times
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A tired and dispiriting affair that takes forever to get going.

August 24, 2001 Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A rather sturdy modernized mash-up of Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York.

April 14, 2011 Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness
Lessons of Darkness

Cheesy D grade popcorn guilty pleasure...

April 29, 2009 Full Review Source: Cinema Crazed
Cinema Crazed

Mad Max Heads for the Angry Red Planet on a Pitch Black Night of the Living Dead.

March 27, 2009 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Ghosts of Mars is not Carpenter at his best. It may very well be Carpenter at rock bottom.

February 14, 2008 Full Review Source:

A turd wrapped up in a nice bow is still a turd.

December 31, 2005 Full Review Source:

More Mars lacks than Mars attacks and an outing for Carpenter die-hards only.

March 4, 2003 Full Review Source: RTE Interactive (Dublin, Ireland)

Original movies on the Sci-Fi Channel have better production values.

June 20, 2002 Full Review | Comment (1)
Northwest Herald (Crystal Lake, IL)

a complete and utter disaster

May 12, 2002

The monsters were just not scary.

May 5, 2002 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

You'll wish you were on Mars and not on Earth suffering through this movie.

February 4, 2002 Full Review Source: 3BlackChicks Review
3BlackChicks Review

There's a great deal of promise in the outline of the tale, but somewhere along the line, the execution went awry.

December 21, 2001 Full Review Source:

The most disturbing thing about an aggressively tame production is the suspicion that John Carpenter has been taken over by one of his own mindless zombie Martians.

November 30, 2001 Full Review Source: Film Freak Central
Film Freak Central

I'm not the type to bash a "popcorn movie" for not being Macbeth, but even B-movie genre fare needs to be held to some kind of standard.

November 12, 2001 Full Review Source:

It loves being quick and dirty, and it wants you to love it too. That honesty can be hard to resist, even when the film itself starts to falter.

October 24, 2001 Full Review Source: Flipside Movie Emporium
Flipside Movie Emporium logra superar ese status de ser una película pasajera y punto...

October 11, 2001

There's a difference between a simple plot and a stupid one. Carpenter's is a no-brainer, but it's executed with flair, talent, and few lapses in logic.

September 21, 2001 Full Review Source: Film Blather
Film Blather

a '70s zombie picture with the posturing bravado and buddy-movie elements of an '80s sci-fi/action picture

September 9, 2001 Full Review Source:

It's hard to call this a thriller, since there is nothing thrilling about it.

September 7, 2001 Full Review Source:

One of the movie's first images is a flashing 'Auto Pilot' sign, and that's how it seems to have been made.

August 31, 2001 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Carpenter's work is recognizable as human art, but art untarnished by the sheen and polish of a global popular culture.

August 31, 2001 Full Review Source: Movie Habit
Movie Habit

Audience Reviews for Ghosts of Mars

August 8, 2013
Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

Yep back near the millennium there was a bit of a Mars movie rush. Alongside a couple other action thrillers earlier in 2000 this horror thriller was obviously a more fantasy based trip to the red planet courtesy of John Carpenter.

You know its Carpenter straight away with most of his films but this was different. For a start the soundtrack was a lot of actual heavy metal performers playing pieces created by Carpenter. So yes the tunes are all Carpenters work as usual but it just didn't have the cool quirky simple electronic vibes you associate with his films. The heavy metal stuff just feels too errr heavy for what the film is, it tries to force the action and gore upon you with loud thrashing music which just seems childish really.

Naturally with Carpenter it looks cheap haha, everything is normally basic but created well with clever lighting, camera angles and editing. In this there is none of that craftsmanship, it really does feel as if John has sold out and given us a loud cliched straight to DVD action flick with no real thought or imagination. Everything also looks really really poor, terrible sets, terrible effects and makeup work and why are the good guys all wearing ski masks lol!. You can virtually see the edge of the sets half the time, we are talking TV movie standards here people!.

The plot is completely lame lets be honest, in fact it just feels like 'The Fog' but set on Mars or in space. That red dusty alien spirit cloud that goes around infecting the miners? come on John!. On top of that its all just a basic crappy zombie-ish horror theme. Humans are turned into mindless zombies that like to mutilate themselves and cut peoples heads off, errr gee, like wow!.

Its a shame because the cast is pretty cool with good names. A very young slim looking Statham with a bit of fuzz left on his bonce, Grier who is always sultry n sexy (why does she have to buy the farm so soon John!?) and Henstridge does add a 'Ripley-ish' current but personally I would of cast someone else. Yes 'Ice Cube' is there too being ridiculously over the top trying to make us all think he's a rough tough gangsta' in space, when will you grow up and use your real name jesus!.

All together this really does feel like a rehash of previous thrillers 'The Fog' and 'Assault on Precinct 13' all mixed into one. Completely inept in every area, very cheap looking and totally un-thrilling in any way, how Carpenter produced such a generic piece of crapola like this I don't know. You only have to look at the space zombie bad guys to see how poor it is, looks like the makeup was applied by themselves and thought up by teenagers.
December 1, 2012

Super Reviewer

I wish I could somehow demonstrate how shockingly awful this movie was. I was constantly stricken with the face of a man walking in on a dog on chicken orgy. It happens! Anyway, Carpenter has always made B-Movies, but he often adds charm or intense sequences that bring them above the bar. Escape From New York looks dated today, but that is 30 years old. This is only a decade old and yet it looks like a huge steaming pile of crap. That's not the worst of it. I could easily forgive Carpenter's cheap looking visuals if the film was interesting or not a complete mess. The film has Natasha Henstridge recounting the events of a mission to transport a criminal. However, Carpenter doesn't just want to tell her story and finds himself trapped by a first person narrative. So then he has Henstridge recount certain events that other characters told her happened, and then ... well, it goes on and on. Recounts within flashbacks, all told with what seems to be a constant cross-fade. It's like Inception, only here it is genuinely confusing. The action is dull, the sets are small and uninspired, and the acting isn't worthy of that title. Only Statham seems to be giving it some effort, but he is simply forgotten about once the so called action starts. Add to this inexplicable character moments that mostly involve watching events and not taking action. It's worse than you could possibly imagine. The music is also inexplicable, with unnecessary crunching metal riffs that spoil every scene, at least they would if there was anything left to spoil. The unending transitions have left me cross-eyed. Damn you Ghosts Of Mars.
July 14, 2012

Super Reviewer

I really enjoyed this movie, i may of enjoyed this movie for al the worng reasons because as storys go this isnt that great as it doesnt explain an awful lot and ends with so many unanswered questions, and speical effects were ok but apart from that this movie is enjoyable and exciting with great action fighting scenes that excite any action fans!!
This movie is about a group of police and the story is set in 2120 on mars, the police group are on there way to a prison wheere they are to pick up a supposed murderer (ice cube) but everything is way to quiet and what turns out to be an easy routine prisoner pick up turns to be something more sinister!!
Really worth a watch espicially if you like john carpenter and his other movie Vampires!!
March 23, 2012
Film Crazy

Super Reviewer

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