Yesterday we headed down to the East Village to catch one of the many screenings of The Flaming Lips long-awaited sci-fi movie Christmas On Mars. The theater was quite small, and there seemed to be only about 15 other people at this showing. Before the film started, they showed an interview with Wayne Coyne about the movie. It was a little too long and gave away a little too much about the movie, but Coyne is always an interesting person to hear talking. The opening scene audio-visual assault of the senses was right in line with their over-the-top psychedelic live shows and at first I thought the whole film would be nonsensical imagery, but the film then quickly gave way to dialogue between characters and a real plot. Without giving too much away, the movie takes place on new colony on Mars on Christmas Eve (hence the name) where the crew is dealing with essential equipment failures and facing questions about whether a baby about to be born from some artificial womb will survive.
Much of the film felt like a Kubrick throwback, but almost the entire thing came off like a spoof of sci-fi movies as a whole while trying to take itself seriously at the same time. This is a delicate balance to achieve, and I enjoyed it mostly for its comedic aspects where the film excelled. The sets were put together with almost no budget, and it was neat to see what they used to put them together, again adding to the laughs. And while there were many moments you were laughing at the film, there were also plenty of times you were laughing with the film. The boss of the colony or captain or whatever he was did an extremely entertaining comedic relief role, a type of role I typically hate. In fact, it seemed like every single character had its own distinct brand of humour it brought to the movie and most were great.
The other strong suit of this film was the audio/video sync ups and effects. Their mastery of freaking out the human senses comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with their spectacular live shows, but they used Christmas On Mars as an opportunity to be even more meticulously mindblowing to your eyes and ears. I think it was particularly striking to me because they’re tools were much more nuanced than what they employ live. Most of the film is black and white, yet they still had plenty of eye candy going on, and all of the tricks felt much more purposeful here than the random ridiculousness of The Flaming Lips on stage.
The film won’t change your life or anything and maybe the 7 year hype that has surrounded this thing probably created big expectations that it could never have lived up to, but overall I thought it was a very fun, interesting movie that I will probably watch a few more times and still enjoy. As far as Christmas movies go, this one is hard to beat.
- Posted by Davy Minor on September 17, 2008 at 12:47 pm