Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Boarding Prometheus, Part III

As Prometheus prepares to land in theaters this Friday, let’s take a look at some non-”Alien” franchise science-fiction films that you might be interested in viewing. 

Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Directed by Byron Haskin, “Robinson Crusoe on Mars” is one of the stronger sci-fi/space exploration films, making a strong attempt to deal realistically with the possibilities of trying to survive on a foreign planet. Given the knowledge we had about Mars at the time of its release, it’s fairly impressive in its execution. Although it’s technically based on the novel, it takes a lot of liberties with the source material (the astronaut is named Christopher “Kit” Draper). Upon crash landing on the planet, Draper realizes his resources are limited and time is of the essence. Not only is there the need for water, food and shelter, but also the need for oxygen; Mars has some oxygen in the air, but not nearly enough to survive (according to the film). 
“Robinson Crusoe on Mars” features only four speaking roles (the screen time barely reaches a length of fifteen minutes) and sections of film are completely void of dialog, although no where near as unbearably intense as 2001. Byron Haskin has previously directed “The War of the Worlds,” and his sharp eye for science fiction is definitely present in “Crusoe.” Partnering up with a chimp, named “Friday” (a nod to the novel), Draper trudges through the Mars landscape, coming across some ominous Martians, whose intentions are initially ambiguous. I won’t spoil what happens next, as knowing less about the film is rewarding upon the initial viewing. 
The Criterion release is overflowing with amazing features, including commentaries, interviews and documentaries, and the Blu-ray looks phenomenal. It’s available on Netflix instant, but it’s worth the $20 purchase on Amazon.

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