Very Trippy Film For Fans of Avant-Garde Sci-Fi Flicks
I just saw this film this afternoon at the KGB Theatre in NYC. It was
pretty much what I expected, a little weirder maybe, but a rather great
feat. This is highly recommended to fans of the Flaming Lips, to lovers
of avant-garde or experimental film, to fans of sci-fi film (both campy
and non-campy), and, uh, to college students. Yes, I think college
students will love this movie.
First, the cons: Some of the acting is weak and the plot was a bit hard
to follow, of what little there seemed to be.
The pros: The special effects were no less than AMAZING for a movie of
such a low budget. The Flaming Lips' score for the movie was equally
astonishing, perhaps one of the most effective sci-fi soundtracks I've
ever heard. There were enough jokes and visual surprises throughout
that the film never became dull, cheesy, or cliché. The use of black
and white and color in this film was fantastic--the use of overexposed
light was fantastic as well.
---***SPOILER ALERT***--- So here's how the first Christmas on Mars
goes down: Major Cirtis is living on Mars with a bunch of other
astronauts at a space station. He begins having a series of
hallucinations at Christmas time, when a baby in a plastic womb is due
to be born as the first human baby born on Mars.
Major Cirtis had chosen some old man to play Santa for the celebration
of the baby being born (I think), but the old man gets cabin fever and
runs outside the space station with no suit on and kills himself.
Just as he runs out the door, a Martian has arrived at the space
station. He is brought inside, says nothing, then is charged with the
task of being the replacement Santa. There is a rather disconnected
close call with death for the crew of the ship, but they are ultimately
saved while Fred Armisen and Major Cirtis sing 'Silent Night' together.
The baby is born healthy, and the captain confides that the Martian
turned out to be a pretty good Santa Claus after all.---***END
OK, so the plot of the film doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but it
doesn't need to, and it doesn't dwell on it, either, so it's really
only secondary to the experience. First and foremost are the amazing
visuals, perfectly complemented by the music. At times a throwback to
old '40s sci-fi and at times more brash than any sci-fi flick that has
come before it, the film is stunning to look at.
But, if you're expecting to learn something from this, or to take away
a great life lesson, or wanting some incredibly intricate storytelling,
then you're looking in the wrong place. This is more of a pop-up
picture book than a novel.
It's kind of a cross between the Monkees' movie "Head" but with an
aesthetic and setting similar to the '70s cult classic "Dark Star".
Fans of a film like "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" or "Waking Life"
won't have any trouble appreciating "Christmas On Mars".
All in all, a wildly entertaining film. Not for everyone, for sure, but
anybody who likes films that *look* different than most other films
will surely enjoy this. A silly, satisfying, theatrical work of art,
enthusiastic to the end, and easy to get caught up in. Go see it. You
won't regret it..
Weird, introspective, groupie art film
I give this a five because I didn't feel the urge to just yank the disk
out of the player-- although I did fast forward through a good portion
of it. However I did watch it through to the end. . .and scratched my
head when it was done.
For most of you ordinary folks who might feel moved to try this video
offering. It's set on Mars. That's just about ALL the Science Fiction
that will make direct sense to you. The rest of the plot is rather
spare and spotty. The colony is falling apart. It's Christmas Eve. A
Baby is being born in some weird machine. An enigmatic Alien shows up.
The Guy who's supposed to play Santa for the Base commits suicide.
And a Station Manager is walking about and we hear his maundering
thoughts as he listens to all the complaints, protests and hopelessness
from the fellow colonists.
Beyond that, the special effects are more in line with the old
visual/photographic effects of the old Beatles cartoon movies--but done
pretty well. The set of the Mars base/station is actually pretty
cohesive and believable. . .but it's the story that requires your
willful mental compliance (or is it Complacency?), not the sets or the
It's saying something about Hope and Birth and Christmas, I think-- but
you'll still be scratching your head when it ends.
This weird offering is best enjoyed with a group with lots of food and
alcohol and conversation. The Alcohol should be liberally distributed
and imbibed BEFORE the movie is started.
Many of you have seen or been to parties where a big flatscreen was
playing some weird video while everyone is talking and having a good
time and listening to music. And every once in a while, they look at
the big screen on the wall and go: Huh?
That's exactly what this movie is like..