Mysterious Red Planet: 20 films about travel to Mars

While progressive humanity can’t wait for the landing of a man on Mars, filmmakers have long conquered its expanses and got used to it quite well. In the parallel world of cinema on the Red Planet, traces of a distant alien mind and local inhabitants have already been discovered, earthly colonies have been created, and in some places the planet itself has become habitable. We offer a selection of the best films about Mars – from new movies to classics of the genre.

To the Stars (2019)

Humanity is finally ripe for a project to search for extraterrestrial life. Captain McBride leads the “Project” Lima “and goes into deep space, but the connection with the expedition is lost forever. After 16 years, the son of the legendary captain, Major Roy McBride, will have to go to the Martian base to establish contact with a possibly living father. It’s all because of the strange signals sent to Earth, presumably from Neptune.

What do you think, is it worth filming a sequel, and what should be in it?

Original title: Ad Astra
Genre: Fiction, thriller, drama, detective, adventure
Actors: Brad Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones, Ruth Negga …
Country: USA, China, Brazil
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.4, IMDb – 6.5
Age restrictions: 16+


First (TV series 2018)

In an attempt to solve the problem of overpopulation, earthly governments are turning their eyes to the Red Planet. The first space launch suffers a tragic failure right at the start. The explosion claims the lives of the entire crew, but the project is not curtailed. Astronaut Tom Haggerty, who by chance was not among the dead, receives an invitation to lead a new mission. It is worth noting that the series about the training of the conquerors of Mars is far from the standard science fiction of recent years, because the main attention in the film is given to people, their experiences and the pursuit of a dream.

Original title: The First
Genre: Fantasy, drama
Actors: Sean Penn, Natasha McElhone, Lisa Gay Hamilton …
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.3, IMDb – 6.7
Age restrictions: 18+


2036 origin unknown (2018)

The long-awaited manned mission to Mars ends with the death of the crew during landing on the surface. The reasons are not known, but this leads to a decision – to use only artificial intelligence in interplanetary flights, controlling it from the Earth. Among the few remaining spaceflight specialists is Mackenzie Wilson. She leads a new expedition, and paired with ARTI, the latest artificial intelligence, must find out the mysterious circumstances of the death of the first team.

Original title: 2036 Origin Unknown
Genre: Fiction, Action, Thriller
Actors: Katie Sackhoff, Ray Fearon, Julie Cox…
Country: United Kingdom
Rating: Myreleasedate – 4.9, IMDb – 4.4
Age Limits: 16+


Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars (2017)

The next Mars movie is an animated sequel to the famous 1997 battle fiction masterpiece. The war against the arachnids has been going on for 20 years, Federation forces have the last outpost of hostile insects under siege, and Johnny Rico, a Space Marine veteran, has been training recruits on Mars, in a quiet and safe home front. However, the enemies of humanity find a way to get into the heart of the solar system and attack the Martian colonies.

Original title: Starship Troopers: Traitor of Mars
Genre: Cartoon, fantasy, action
Actors: Casper Van Dien, Dina Meyer, DeRay Davis…
Country: Japan, USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 5.9, IMDb – 5.5
Age restrictions: 16+


Terraforming (2016)

At the end of the XXI century, earthlings decide to start a long-term program to equip Mars for life. Automatic ships are sent from Earth, populating the lifeless desert with special types of plants that can create a breathable atmosphere and transform the soil. Five centuries later, a team of scientists sets off to complete the terraforming process, but contact with it is lost. No one imagined that during this time the planet had new owners.

Original title: Terafomazu
Genre: Horror, fantasy, action
Actors: Rinko Kikuchi, Rila Fukushima, Shun Oguri …
Country: Japan
Rating: Myreleasedate – 4.9, IMDb – 4.7
Age restrictions: 16+


Mars (TV series, 2016 – 2018)

In 2033, the Martian pioneers found the base “City of Olympus”. The first steps of an international team of cosmonauts and scientists are accompanied by difficult and tragic trials, but after a while, replenishment arrives and the development of the Red Planet cannot be stopped. With a unique combination of fictional storytelling, documentary footage and interviews with real experts, the series has received the highest ratings and made it to the list of the best films about Mars.

Original title: ars
Genre: Fantasy, drama, adventure
Actors: Jihyo, Alberto Amman, Clementine Poudatz …
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 7.1, IMDb – 7.5
Age restrictions: 12+


Space Between Us (2016)

Teenager Gardner Elliot had an amazing fate – he is the first person born on Mars. In addition, no one knows about its existence, because the staff of the research base, together with the management, decided to hide this fact from the public. Gardner’s mother died in childbirth, and the inhabitants of the station became his only family, but you can’t keep track of an inquisitive teenager. A guy meets an ordinary earthly girl via the Internet and decides to go on a trip to Earth.

Original title: The Space Between Us
Genre: Fantasy, drama, romance
Actors: Britt Robertson, Asa Butterfield, Gary Oldman …
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.5, IMDb – 6.4
Age restrictions: 16+


Martian (2015)

A gripping film about human survival on Mars tells the story of space robinson, astronaut-biologist Mark Watney. The research expedition gets into a strong storm, and during the urgent evacuation does not take Mark with them, considering him dead. The astronaut is left alone, and at his disposal is only a serviceable habitation module and a supply of food for several months. There is no communication with the Earth, and there is still four years to wait until the next expedition. The film garnered numerous reviews from the audience, and disputes over its scientific validity have not subsided to this day.

Original title: The Martian
Genre: Fantasy, adventure
Actors: Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor …
Country: UK, USA, Hungary
Rating: Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 8.0
Age restrictions: 16+


Space (TV series 2015)

The action of the science fiction series takes several centuries into the future – at a time when the solar system is fully mastered by mankind. The Martian colonizers have gained independence and share spheres of influence with the Earth in the system. Private detective Joseph Miller is tasked with finding the missing daughter of a powerful man. As a result, Miller finds himself embroiled in a maelstrom of interplanetary intrigue, power struggles and state secrets.

Original title: The Expanse
Genre: Fiction, thriller, drama, detective
Actors: Stephen Strait, Cas Anwar, Dominic Tipper …
Country: Canada, USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 7.9, IMDb – 8.5
Age restrictions: 16+


Last Days on Mars (2013)

Another film about a flight to Mars, in which the astronauts suddenly encounter an aggressive life form. A team of eight specialists has been working on the Red Planet for six months. Less than a day is left before the end of the mission, when one of the scientists makes a long-awaited discovery. Finding signs of cellular activity, the astronaut brings samples to the base, which turns into a deadly nightmare for the entire expedition.

Original title: The Last Days on Mars
Genre: Horror, fantasy, thriller, adventure
Actors: Liev Schreiber, Elias Koteas, Romola Garay, Olivia Williams …
Country: UK, Ireland
Rating: Myreleasedate – 5.5, IMDb – 5.5
Age Limits: 16+


John Carter (2012)

In the past, a veteran of the American Civil War, and now archaeologist John Carter, is incredibly transported from Earth to Mars, which turns out to be not a lifeless desert at all. A former soldier finds himself in the middle of a war between two powerful civilizations. The green giants of Tarka fight for independence with the “red people”, and Carter, at first being a prisoner of the native giants, becomes their ally and joins the fight.

Original title: John Carter
Genre: Fantasy, action, adventure
Actors: Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Mark Strong …
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.9, IMDb – 6.6
Age restrictions: 12+


Mars and April (2012)

In the distant 2060, an aging musician and a young instrument maker are obsessed with the same girl who inspires them to create new masterpieces. But the beautiful muse suddenly disappears into the virtual space of the live broadcast of the first Martian expedition, which is hosted by the VR television of the future. Of all the fantastic films about Mars, this picture stands apart, being a deep philosophical parable and reflection on the nature of the human mind, love and creativity.

Original title: Mars et Avrilй
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, drama
Actors: Jacques Languiran, Carelyn Devernet, Paul Amarani …
Country: Canada
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.6, IMDb – 6.0


Red Faction: Origins (2011)

The film adaptation of a series of popular computer games takes us to the distant future, where Mars is already thoroughly colonized and more or less habitable. It’s been a quarter of a century since Alex Mason fought the Earth Defense Force for the independence of the Martian settlers with weapons in his hands. The war hero lost heart, because his wife was killed by enemies, and his daughter was kidnapped, but his grown son, who became an officer of the Red faction, intends to restore justice.

Original title: Red Faction: Origins
Genre: Fantasy
Actors: Brian J. Smith, Daniel Nicolet, Kate Vernon …
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 5.4, IMDb – 5.1


Interplanetary (2008)

Mars has been conquered and studied by earthlings, and a small colony owned by the private financial corporation Interplanetary Inc is quite successfully functioning on it. Trouble begins with the sudden madness of one of the colonists, who kills two colleagues. The incident is hushed up without too much understanding of its causes, but real problems soon begin – a lizard-like monster penetrates the station. Cinema is an American science fiction horror film with comedy elements.

Original title: Interplanetary
Genre: Horror, fantasy, comedy
Actors: Carey Borders, Alison Britt, David Brown…
Country: USA
Rating: IMDb – 4.4
Age limit: 18+


Martian Odyssey (2001)

A dramatic film about the explorers of Mars, whose journey to the planet turns into an ordeal. A lander crashes, the flight leader dies, and the five survivors must make a difficult choice. Help will arrive only in a year and a half, and food and air supplies for this period will only be enough for two. Three astronauts are forced to leave the module and carry out their last mission – to investigate a strange object near the crash landing site.

Original title: Stranded
Genre: Fantasy, drama
Actors: Vincent Gallo, Maria de Medeiros, Joaquin de Almeida …
Country: Spain
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.0, IMDb – 5.4
Age restrictions: 16+


Ghosts of Mars (2001)

Action-packed action film tells about Mars in the distant future, when during the colonization people were exposed to a supernatural threat. A group of police special forces is sent to the outlying mining colony to arrest a dangerous criminal. Communication with the colony has been missing for a long time, and upon arrival, the police find themselves right on the battlefield with a mysterious force, accidentally awakened by miners in the Martian bowels and terrifying people.

Original title: Ghosts of Mars
Genre: Horror, fantasy, action
Actors: Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham…
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 5.3, IMDb – 4.9
Age restrictions: 18+


Red Planet (2000)

By the middle of the 21st century, the ecological situation on Earth is becoming so critical that the resettlement of mankind on the third planet from the Sun becomes a matter of life and death. Automatic probes deliver algae to the planet, producing oxygen for future colonies. After a while, a manned mission is sent to the Martian orbit to control the process, but the formation of the atmosphere is suddenly interrupted. The heroes of the film will have to descend to the surface of Mars and find out the reason, because we are talking about the survival of all mankind.

Original title: Red Planet
Genre: Fiction, action
Actors: Val Kilmer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Tom Sizemore …
Country: USA, Australia
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.2, IMDb – 5.7
Age restrictions: 16+


Mission to Mars (2000)

The team of the first Martian expedition discovers a strange anomaly on the surface of the planet. When trying to study the phenomenon, three crew members die, the ship’s electronics fail, but the surviving astronaut captain manages to send a distress signal. The arriving rescue mission, in an attempt to understand the tragedy, comes to amazing results that can turn the idea of ​​​​humanity upside down.

Original title: Mission to Mars
Genre: Fiction, thriller
Actors: Gary Sinise, Tim Robbins, Don Cheadle…
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 6.7, IMDb – 5.7
Age restrictions: 12+


Mars (1996)

The Martian colonies of the future are far from utopian ideals. They have been turned into an industrial sewer where lawlessness flourishes and disease rages. It is all the fault of the predatory mining of a unique natural resource – sylex, the fuel of the future. “Keeper of order” Templer arrives on the planet from Earth to find out the circumstances of the murder of his brother and punish the criminals, but immediately upon arrival he becomes a target for local  crime .

Original title: Mars
Genre: Fantasy, Action
Actors: Olivier Gruner, Shari Belafonte, Gabriel Dell Jr….
Country: USA
Rating: Myreleasedate – 4.9, IMDb – 3.9
Age restrictions: 16+


Total Recall (1990)

Doug Quaid is an ordinary hard worker, spinning in a gray routine. One day, on the advice of a friend, Doug decides to turn to a corporation that sells memories, but a harmless entertainment turns the life of a simple guy upside down. Suddenly, he becomes the object of hunting for the special services and discovers the skills of a trained fighter. Even his own wife is trying to kill Quaid, and now, in order to find out the whole truth, he needs to go to Mars. Despite its age, the film is still watched in the same breath and is included in the top of the best science fiction action films of all time.

Original title: Total Recall
Genre: Fiction, Action, Thriller
Actors: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Rachel Tikotin, Sharon Stone …
Country: USA, Mexico
Rating: Myreleasedate – 7.7, IMDb – 7.5
Age Limits: 18+


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Jared Lambert/ author of the article

I’ve been writing about movies, TV shows and anime for over 3 years, and you may have seen my reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

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