Europa Report, the new sci-fi/horror/thriller THE LAST DAYS ON MARS is a fast-moving genre jumper that eventually morphs into, yes, a zombie movie. If you follow this blog at all, you'll know that TrustMovies is not particularly keen on the zombie genre. That said, this new one, directed by first-time/full-length filmmaker Ruairi Robinson (shown below) and written by Clive Dawson (from a short story by Sydney J. Bounds), proves pretty much worth your time and interest.
Pushover, The Killer Is Loose and Invasion of the Body Snatchers come immediately to mind -- and it should recall those tight, smart, low-budget genre films that usually did their job well without nearly all the fuss-and-muss of the big-deal studio films. LDOM is, like the old "B"s, well-written, -directed and-acted. Mr. Robinson proves especially good at making everything from the sets to the dialog appear real in a mostly low-key manner -- except for the gorgeous and scary Martian sandstorm that begins the film and becomes (unless you're particularly fond of zombie make-up) the film's highlight in terms of special effects. The dialog, in particular -- thanks Mr. Dawson and the acting crew -- has the ring of real behavior to it.
Liev Schreiber (above), an actor who, throughout his whole career, has specialized in "real," the actors -- initially loose and playful -- rise quickly, as does the movie itself, to the occasion of a life-and-death situation.
Goran Kostic, as the initial loose-screw in the opera-tion as this crew prepares to leave Mars for good, to the always capable Olivia Williams (above) as the bitchy crew member (for good reason, as it turns out), the international cast of this British/Irish co-production delivers a raft of good performances that prove exactly what is needed.
Romola Garai (above, of The Crimson Petal and the White) is always space-suited here but proves up to her usual level, while Elias Koteas (at left, below, with Tom Cullen) lends a nice air of authority tinged with vulnerability to his role.
World War Z -- which, again, shows up the difference between the "B" movie and its overkill A-list counterpart.
Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing, complete with both Universal Pictures and Focus Features screen grabs, open this Friday, December 6, theatrically in New York City (Landmark's Sunshine Cinema) and Los Angeles (Landmark's NuArt in West L.A.). Additional theaters in some thirteen cities will be added in the weeks to come. Click here to see 'em all.