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Reel critics

November 15, 2000

Bad outweighs good

Summer Grindle of La Crescenta is a sophomore at Los Angeles County

High School for the Arts.

The newest in a handful of Murphy's Law space movies, "Red Planet" is

so far the most palatable, but that isn't saying much. This particular

space spectacle begins with a casual, and useless, narrative, but soon

becomes passively entertaining, with Val Kilmer, music by Sting and a few

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well-written lines. But the bad far outweighs the good.

The astronaut jargon strewn throughout is ridiculous, as are the

sometimes gruesome deaths of obligatory characters. The special effects

are interesting, but borrowed. "Red Planet" is a scrapbook of 20th

century sci-fi flicks.

No story, wasted cast

Matt Verboys of Burbank is a researcher for a television company.

It's easy to forgive a dumb, big-budget sci-fi flick if it's at least

entertaining. Unfortunately, "Red Planet" is as unbearably boring as it

is stupendously stupid. First-time director Antony Hoffman delivers

pretty pictures, but little in the way of suspense or coherent

storytelling.

If the characters are stranded on Mars (which looks an awful lot like

Arizona), then the helpless actors are stranded by Chuck Pfarrer's empty,

patched-together screenplay -- an impressive script in that it manages to

be worse than the ones he wrote for "Virus" and "Barb Wire." Of the

talented but thoroughly wasted cast, only Carrie-Anne Moss (of "The

Matrix" fame) manages to jump-start her limp role.

Along with the underwhelming "Mission to Mars," this effects-laden

turkey makes two failed missions to the red planet in one year. Guess

we're lucky Hollywood doesn't run NASA.

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