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Mirror of Ambrose - “Enos Marmor Iuvato!”
James Enge

jamesenge
Date: 2012-07-17 00:59
Subject: “Enos Marmor Iuvato!”
Security: Public
Tags:crosspost to lj, movie review, review or meta-review

Movies don’t generally do space adventure well. The best sf movies involving space travel are mostly science fantasy (e.g. the Star Wars franchise). Which I also like, but which is different.

So I was excited to hear about Mars, an independent film mixing rotoscoped live action mixed with animated footage. Waking Life… in SPA-A-A-A-ACE? Had to see it.

Now I’ve seen it and I have to admit I’m a little let down. How can a movie be so dull when it features Kinky Friedman playing the President of the United States?

Lackluster acting is part of the problem. The dead-voiced, unconvincing performances of Howe Gelb (as NASA somethingorother Shep McWhatsisname) and Paul Gordon (as billionaire astronaut buzzkill Hank Morrison) brought the temperature down to lukewarm whenever they were onscreen.

But the finest actors in the world couldn’t have saved the script, which is an incoherent jumble that doesn’t quite tell any of the various stories it touches on.

There are some good bits, here, though: some comicbooky animations of space-travel via ion-cannon; the idea of terrestrial life infecting the Martian landscape; artificial intelligence kindling in landrovers; love and last chances in an alien landscape and in a half-empty mission-control room; a daring extravehicular repair mission in deep space.

Good intentions and good details don’t quite make the movie work, but it wasn’t a complete waste of time. There were nice performances by Cynthia Watrous and Michael Dolan running the earthside operations for a robotic Mars rover, and the lead actors (Zoe Dean and Mark Duplass) did well with a romance that was predictable but understated.

Not a must-see, but maybe worth seeing once. With a better script, a low-budget/low-fi movie like this could really be great.

MARS – The Movie [HD Trailer] from Geoff Marslett on Vimeo.

[Originally published at Ambrose & Elsewhere. Comments there are closed due to spambery--but not here on LiveJournal. You can also reach me on Twitter, or on Facebook.]
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peadarog
User: peadarog
Date: 2012-07-17 10:27 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
The trailer looks good, though...
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jamesenge
User: jamesenge
Date: 2012-07-17 17:50 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
It's a pretty good tour of the movie's good moments--which are indeed pretty good. But I hope Marslett works with a scriptwriter on his next project.
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C.S.E. Cooney
User: csecooney
Date: 2012-07-19 11:58 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
You know what this means, right??? You get to try your hand at SF SCRIPTS!

Just kidding. Just write more Morlock books. But there have to be amazing SF writers out there who specialize in the movie medium.

However, Hollywood is still about 50 years behind the literature movement. So it may happen yet, but maybe not in our day.
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jamesenge
User: jamesenge
Date: 2012-07-19 19:08 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
There are lots of ingenious people out there trying to break into scriptwriting for comics... maybe they should be writing movie scripts instead.

There have been lots of fanfilms associated with genre series. (A number of different STAR TREK continuations, for instance.) Maybe there's some infrastructure for this low-fi sci-fi movie movement already in place.
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jamesenge
User: jamesenge
Date: 2012-07-19 19:09 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Also: you're the dramatist. Saving imaginative filmmaking is clearly your responsibility.
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