By Travis Eddings | August 25, 2001

A band of human colonists try to stay alive as they keep deadly alien zombies at bay in “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars,” a ridiculous and badly written “blast the ghoul picture.”
In the year 2176 on Mars, a police squad (which includes the likes of Natasha Henstridge, Pam Grier, Jason Statham and Clea DuVall) are assigned to transport a dangerous criminal named James “Desolation” Williams (Ice Cube). The brute is locked up in an old mining town called Shining Canyon where on the outside, hordes of stupid-looking villians so awfully made up, even I can’t find the proper words to make fun of them, are running around ripping peoples’ heads off. But enough plot already. What you really want to know is what happens once “Desolation” teams up with the police to do battle against the creatures. Well nothing personal to the makers of this movie, but I’ve staged fights with G.I. Joes in my sandbox that were more thrilling than the stuff that happens here.
John Carpenter hasn’t made a good movie in a number of years, but this is his worst film to date. Even in his most dreadful hours (“Prince of Darkness”) the director at least managed to provide a decent synthesizer score. But here, the music is banal as everything else. And what depresses me the most about “Ghosts of Mars?”: that Carpenter made this piece of junk in the same year I’m sure he would have been given the chance had he wanted it, to direct the next installment in the “Halloween” series. That, I’m sure would have pleased his legion of fans more.
The case may be that Carpenter is straying from doing a sequel to that landmark film, so he can make different kinds of pictures. Carpenter doesn’t make enough movies to where he has the time to make worthless ones. If dreck like “Ghosts of Mars” is the route Carpenter wants to take, then it may be time for the aging filmmaker to take a step back and remember where he was coming from back in a time when his name above a picture meant this was a movie to get excited about. “John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars” is rated R for violence, gore, profanity and grotesque piercings.

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