John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars
The barely coherent John Carpenter’s Ghosts of Mars follows 22nd-century cop Melanie Ballard (The Whole Nine Yards’ Natasha Henstridge), who’s sent to a prison on the red planet to pick up accused mass murderer James ”Desolation” Williams (Ice Cube, whose entire dramatic technique consists of scowling, then snarling). Instead, the two team up to fight marauding zombies who have been possessed by a mist that apparently forces them to paint their faces white and drool blood like a bunch of Marilyn Manson groupies.
The screenplay (by Carpenter and Larry Sulkis) shows glints of wit. ”Maybe I’d sleep with you if you were the last man on Earth,” Ballard tells a horny fellow officer (Snatch’s Jason Statham). ”But we’re not on Earth.” Still, the acting is so pallid that you’re never sure the cast members quite get the jokes. In ’80s Cheez Whiz treats like Escape From New York and Big Trouble in Little China, the auteur’s amateurishness (self-penned synth scores, grade-Z F/X) seemed a badge of his unpretentious integrity. Now it just feels like incompetence.