Robinson Crusoe on Mars
Reviewed by John Milner
Rating: 9.5 Beans
obinson Crusoe on Mars
A Review by John M. Milner
When this film first opens, we see Colonel Dan McReady (Batman's Adam West) onboard an Earth probe of Mars. First impression is that this is our hero, a strong, up-standing American male, out to overcome any obstacle set before him in this film. We are also introduced to Mona, the monkee who McReady (or "Mac") has spared from shooting into space. And there's "Kit" Draper (played by Paul Mantee, last seen in 1995's Apollo 13) who's obviously the lovable, but inept sidekick. All the makings for a great sci-fi flick. This one a 1964 Paramount Production, directed by Byron Haskin, who directed "War of the Worlds".
All is going well, until our hero has to elude a meteor and ends up trapped in Mars's gravitational pull. Here's an interesting twist, rather than crash land on Mars, the ship just kinda floats around for a while. No matter, Kitt ejects and lands on Mars, followed eventually by Colonel Dan (Wasn't that the guy in Forrest Gump? Oh wait, that was Lt. Dan! Never mind.) So, while we wait for our hero to show up, let's watch and see Kitt walk around Mars for...a heck of a long time, actually! Remember that scene in Star Wars where C3PO wanders through the desert. Well, imagine that sequence stretched out for about 20 minutes to a half an hour. He figures he's short on water and oxygen, but all will be solved when he finds Colonel Dan. Unfortunately, Colonel Dan's dead, which means Holy Suprise Plot Twists Batman! Kitt has been the hero all this time, and Colonel Dan was just a big name bit player. But Hey! Mona is still alive. Thank heavens, for she immediately puts in a performance that shows more acting ability than the rest of the cast combined.
Alone on Mars with little hope of rescue, Kitt suddenly transforms himself from a second banana into this intergalactic McGyver as he discovers how to burn some crazy yellow rocks to produce oxygen, salt Mona's food up so she'll lead him to an underground water hole (where the first ever hot-dog tree grows), concoct an alarm clock out of a scale, some sand, and some other stuff and even a swinging bachelor pad that would make the Flinstones proud. Of course, none of this can take the place of human interaction. No problem, Colonel Dan is back, but won't say a word to Kitt."Are you sore at me?" Kitt asks. My first reaction was "Well, you buried the guy alive, whaddya expect?" Oh wait, this was all a dream sequence. A real companion shows up in the form of Friday (played by Victor Lundin, who is obviously not happy to be here) an escaped slave from a race seen only as cartoon-like flying saucers. Kitt tries to teach Friday English, with some degree of success. (What is it with us earthlings? We always have to teach aliens our language, never thinking that it might be easier for the aliens to teach us their native tongue!)
It should come to no suprise that these aliens end up chasing Kitt and Friday halfway across Mars. How come they don't show up until the movie is half over, then are suddenly do a flyby every ten or fifteen minutes for the rest of the movie? Our intrepid friends, with Mona still out-acting them at every turn, end up in a mountain range in Mars' polar icecap. (I expected them to come across a Brazilian soccer team at any moment). When I came out of the boredom-induced coma this film put me into, I found myself almost envying Colonel Dan, at least he died in the opening sequence of the film, sparing him from having to watch the rest of it.
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