The Last Day on Mars (Blu-ray Review)

After seeing the trailer a couple months back I will admit that I was really looking forward to this one.  I mean who doesn’t like space exploration movies, right?  I am a huge fan of those myself.  When I found out The Last Days on Mars was on the front doorstep today I couldn’t wait to get home and watch it.  My boyfriend, however, did not share my same level of excitement for the movie after he read so many negative reviews.  In fact, that is to put it mildly.  He was down right upset about having to sit through it, but of course he would sacrifice 90 minutes for me.  So with that being said I should have known from the moment the Blu-ray jammed up our PS4 for the first time ever before we even hit play, causing him to have to reboot the whole system, that this was going to be a disaster.  I guess I am not very good subtle hints, huh?  However, I didn’t let that little mishap damper my spirits.  As of late I have been trying to be a cup half full kinda person.  Okay, lets get into it shall we?



The Last Days on Mars is a movie about an unfortunate group of scientists that have been living in an isolated habitat on Mars for the past six months.  Their six-month mission is almost over with only 19 hours remaining until they are picked up by the orbiting spaceship that will transport them on their six=month journey back to Mother Earth, and replacing them with another group of scientists that will pick up where they left off.  Last Days on Mars stars Liev Schreiber (Showtime’s “Ray Donovan”) as Vincent.  Vincent is the engineer and go-to guy on the mission.  He does, however, have some issues that really are never explained by anything other than a few flashbacks.  I gather it must be post-traumatic stress or something that previously went awry, but who knows.

The movie had an extremely slow start to it and the interactions between the crew were very confusing.  I had a hard time gathering what the team’s mission was until the movie progressed quite a bit further.  As the crew was about to debrief before their return home, scientist Marko (Goram Kostic) uncovers something in his research.  Keeping this discovery to himself, he persuades the mission’s easily manipulated captain, Charles Brunel (Elias Koteas), to let him take one more look around the red planet.  Well I can tell you Marko was not out for a joy ride, he wanted to try and collect some more samples of his discovery.  Sadly for him while collecting the samples, the porous ground of Mars collapses, causing Marko to fall to “death.”  The rest of the team tries to deal with the loss of Marko and follows protocol to recover his body.  While the crew heads back to base in order to gather the appropriate equipment, yet another member of the crew that stayed back at the work site has vanished.  Have no fear, both bodies will show up again shortly at the base, and that is all I will say about that in efforts to keep this review as spoiler-free as possible.

My main problem is with these “creatures.”  Oops?!  Did I just say creatures?  They are indestructible!!  I mean, how can I as the viewer, root for the rest of the crew when truly their survival attempts are quite pointless.  Is this a slasher in space?  Sure feels like it!  That is as far as I will go so that I again stop short of any serious spoilers, but let’s just say that it may be similar to a very popular show that rhymes with “Talking Red.”  You know the saying, in space no one can hear you scream, well, Houston, we have a problem, because in The Last Days on Mars, my saying is, no one can see you snooze.

And that’s just it.  I was bored.  This movie could have been so special.  I was itching for a good sci-fi journey, despite the low budget, but all I got was a second rate horror movie in my opinion.  The effects were great and it’s low budget doesn’t really show, but that was it.  That’s the show stopper.  The story was what was bland and quite unoriginal.  The acting was also fine, but even they had to know that the story wasn’t up to snuff.  No?  I don’t know.  If I had my choice between a one-way trip with this film or a round trip, I’d pick the former.  Happy to have seen it, but that’s about it.



Let’s take a quick look below at the key details of this Magnolia Blu-ray release as it relates to its video presentation.

  • Encoding: AVC MPEG-4
  • Resolution: 1080p
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
  • Clarity/Detail: Things are a bit mixed here, but for the most part detail prevails.  When it’s dusty, obviously things are not the clearest.  But it doesn’t get any clearer or more detailed when we are talking the rocky terrain of planet Mars, the individual stitches that adorn the crew’s spacesuits or the fine wrinkles and stubbles on Liev’s face.
  • Depth: I’m quite happy here with the depth that’s all abound thanks to the backgrounds being blurred and the sharpness as discussed above.  The characters all have that three-dimensional quality to them onscreen.
  • Black Levels: There are a lot of dark scenes here and thankfully things look great here with some very deep and inky black levels throughout the presentation.
  • Color Reproduction: The colors, when employed are bright and vibrant such as the red bloods against the white spacesuits.  But let’s face it.  However, there’s not much color on Mars and things are quite dusty to say the least.  So I think the filmmakers did a good job here of capturing that essence and appearance via the color tone here.  There are a few scenes where Liev’s character dreams about Earth’s blue skies and it looks amazing.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all appear natural and accurate throughout.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There are no visual signs of blemishes, pesky specs, artifacts or noise.  However, I was distressed to see some halos in some scenes, but that’s a minor quip.



And now let’s finish out the A/V specs by dissecting the DTS-HD Master Audio track that Magnolia delivers here.

  • Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1,
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: This is a weird one.  Sometimes it sounded bombastic and robust and other times I found it be a tad underwhelming, but only minimally…nothing to adversely affect the score.
  • Low Frequency Extension: When the ground collapses underneath the one astronaut, you’ll feel it!  Our dog did!
  • Surround Sound Presentation: This is probably my favorite part about this audio track, its immersion.  From the score to the atmospheric storms and lightning, nothing is held back from making you feel like you are part of the action.  One of my favorite moments was when our crew was being chased in a particular scene and hearing those quick pounding footsteps come at you from behind was quite a remarkable reproduction.
  • Dialogue Reproduction:  Voices are strong and carry for the most part, but there are limited to the center primarily in the mix.  I did find them hard to understand at times, but that also could be attributed to the actor’s particular accents.



I have to say that I’ve grown kind of accustomed to having some kind of Digital Copy format accompanying Blu-ray releases as of late so it saddens me there’s nothing here.  There’s also no commentary track as well here.  And if you are one of those people who want to be busy for hours on end with special features, this may not be the disc for you.  And sadly, there’s no Pop Up Menu to bring up on this Blu-ray, at least not from my PS4 player.  So here’s the slim pickings you have to work with here.

  • The Making of The Last Days on Mars (HD, 15:17) – Liev, cast and crew talk about what drew them to this project.  They all talk about the story and of course the characters they portray.  There’s also plenty of clips and footage thrown in this one.  I do like how they talked about the vulnerability of the 6’3″ star of this film and what he brought to the role.
  • Analyzing The Visual Effects (HD, 6:00) – This one, set to music, is nothing but visual effects shots with no spoken word.  It’s cool seeing all the layers and how they were rendered, but that’s about it here.
  • Behind The Scenes Comparisons (HD, 4:01) – This is a short Picture-in-Picture featurette where the big screen shows the behind-the-scenes shoot and camera monitors following the action while the little window shows the finished product.
  • AXS TV: A Look At The Last Days on Mars (HD, 3:11) – This one is kind of a repeat of the “making of” one I discussed above where the cast chats about the story and what drew them to it.
  • Magnolia Trailers (HD) –  These trailers, kicking off with the vastly superior Europa Report, are playable via the main menu or start up immediately upon the disc’s insertion into your player (that’s what she said…LOL).



In my opinion, The Last Days on Mars is a rental.  Unless you are a hardcore Liev Schreiber fan who has to own everything he’s in, I can’t recommend a purchase of this one.  The effects are decent, the audio and video are up to snuff, but it ultimately lacks in story and extras here.  This may make a great lazy day weekend rental, but not much more from this reviewer.  If you must have it, our pre-order link is here.  The Last Days on Mars will ultimately crash land on Blu-ray March 4th.  I kept this review as spoiler-free as possible so I hope I did not ruin anything for anyone still interested in it.  If this was a spoiled review, you can guarantee I would have had a lot more to say about this.  But for now, let’s use the word meh or average.


3 Responses to “The Last Day on Mars (Blu-ray Review)”

  1. Mike

    I felt the same… effects were good, cast was good and did the best with what they had to work with. It’s just too bad they didn’t have a decent script; that, or it was edited down time wise and there was too much left on the cutting room floor.

  2. Brian White

    You didn’t have a problem with the creatures Mike? I sat down hoping for a great Sci if adventure no matter the budget. But this proved dumb to my senses. At one point I was actually pissed off and I hadn’t felt like this since Die Hard 5. Had we not been reviewing this, I would have shut it off. The script just completely fell down.

  3. Mike

    Brian, you know – I can get down with the coming zombie apocalypse originating on Mars. Alien DNA mutating human DNA – sure, why not. I’m not so sure it was the creatures. The whole time I was watching the movie I felt that something was missing; with the creatures, with the overall story, the backstory of Lievs’ character; that’s why I mentioned possibly too much on the cutting room floor. Don’t get me wrong, it bored the crap out of me, and I’ll never watch it again. I’m just thinking there HAD to be more here.