Robinson Crusoe on Mars


Action / Adventure / Sci-Fi

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 94%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience - Upright 62%
IMDb Rating 6.6 10 5187


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August 02, 2016 at 11:10 AM



Adam West as Col. Dan McReady
720p 1080p
781.85 MB
23.976 fps
1hr 50 min
P/S 4 / 2
1.64 GB
23.976 fps
1hr 50 min
P/S 2 / 6

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Brandt Sponseller 8 / 10

Classic Science Fiction at its best

During an orbital exploratory mission to Mars, Commander Christopher Draper (Paul Mantee) and Colonel Dan McReady (Adam West) are forced to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a large meteor. They inadvertently put themselves in a position for Mars' gravitational pull to take over, and they're running out of fuel. Thus first Draper, then McReady eject. Draper finds himself alone, Robinson Crusoe style, and must figure out how to survive.

Director Byron Haskin and company spared no expense to make sure that all of the scientific elements of this film were accurate enough to function as a graduate level "motion picture textbook" for planetary sciences courses, and the special effects are so realistic that even Peter Jackson felt that his Lord of the Rings trilogy fell short of the technical wizardry on display here. Of course I'm joking. The truth is that while Robinson Crusoe on Mars is extremely cheesy in many respects, this is a very fun film, with a gripping, often-suspenseful story and a great sense of adventure. It rises above its flaws to merit an 8 out of 10 from me.

Actually, Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a great example of why science fiction is usually considered to belong to the genre umbrella of "fantasy" (and yes, that's even true of literary "hard science fiction"). Even though they often involve plot points based on technical aspects of the sciences--and believe it or not, this film is primarily focused on that--in their broader structures, the stories are usually fantasy tales, and reality is dispensed with as soon as either (1) it doesn't suit what the author considers to be a good story, (2) the author's scientific knowledge/research reaches its limit, or (3) the author engages in speculation (which is fundamental to the genre).

Despite scriptwriters John C. Higgins and Ib Melchior frequently engaging in (1) (and very likely (2) plus an added departure point for films--budgetary limitations), the suspense in the first half of the film is propelled by Draper's need for oxygen, water and food. These are basic concerns that many other "shipwrecked on a planet" films often bypass through some kind of deus ex machine. In Robinson Crusoe on Mars, they never stop being central to the plot. Admittedly, if every film merely dwelled on those issues, we'd quickly grow tired of it, but it works extremely well here.

Even more remarkable, for the majority of the film, Robinson Crusoe on Mars is a one-man show. Mantee must hold the audience's interest on his own for a good 70 or 80 minutes. He does so easily. He brings just the right mixture of tough-guy ingenuity and vulnerability to the part.

Of course, part of the enjoyment of watching the film at this point in time is that much of it is unintentionally funny. There are some strange editorial corrections, such as the overdubbed "15 Days" when Draper is making an accounting of his supplies. We are treated to ridiculously bad spaceship animation. There are odd floating fireballs when Draper first touches down. There isn't much effort in many shots to keep the settings looking like Mars. There is one scene with Ed Wood-style changes back and forth from night to day. And so on.

On the other hand, if we look at the film as residing more in a realm of surrealism, elements such as the floating fireballs are actually pretty cool, and much of the cinematography and settings are excellent. The exteriors were primarily shot in Death Valley National Park, and it is beautifully captivating here. Also, some of the attempts to make the exteriors look more Mars like are actually gorgeous. We get purple and blue rockscapes against smoky skies, and we often see nice nods to classic sci-fi illustrators such as Frank R. Paul (whose work often graced the covers of fiction magazines like Amazing Stories) in features such as bright red skies. Haskin also has a few moments of effective ingenuity, such as a crucial plot point appearing as video that Draper took and watched later. Plus, some of the film is intentionally funny--my favorite instance being the line, "Mr. Echo, go to hell!"

The biggest flaw in my eyes is that the ending seems a bit rushed. A lot happens in the last ten minutes or so of the film, without the suspense it could have had with a longer running time. Despite the flaws, however, this is worth a watch by serious fans of classic sci-fi, and it's interesting to note influences films like this have had on later-generation works in the same vein, such as Red Planet (2000).

Reviewed by innocuous 6 / 10

WAAAAAY ahead of its time!

Even though this movie was made in 1964, it puts to shame the more recent (and astronomically more expensive) "Mission to Mars" and "Red Planet".

The characters act much more like real people/enslaved extraterrestrials than was common in sci-fi films of that era. Mantee is well-trained and resourceful, handling most problems (with the exception of his forced isolation) with reasonable aplomb. He is much closer to what we expect an astronaut to be than the ridiculous characters from MtM and RP.

The equipment is also a notch above the usual 60s fare, with real cables, actual dials and knobs, and that utilitarian look so common in military hardware. I have to give this film and extra half-star just for the realistic technology.

Overall, a good, solid sci-fi film from the golden age. Like many others, I'm waiting for the DVD.

*** out of *****

Reviewed by Lechuguilla 10 / 10

one of my favorite sci fi films

Few sci-fi films in cinema history present viewers with an alien landscape so starkly beautiful and desolate as the one in this film. Our setting is an empty and foreboding land of majestic cliffs, barren deserts, and imposing geologic monoliths. The wide-angle camera shots provide a breathtaking sense of geographic scale. Combined with that reddish/orange horizon and a black sky adorned with stars, the simple and uncluttered ongoing panorama evokes an emotional sense of isolation and alienation. The images here are every bit as enthralling as the sci-fi artwork of visionary painter Chesley Bonestell. The setting is a backpacker's paradise.

But the only backpacker in this dream world is Cmdr. Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) whose space vehicle crash-lands on the rocky planet. He must find a way to survive, using only his ingenuity and resourcefulness. And that's the story's theme. Of course he does have Mona, the monkey, to help him in his quest. That a film can run to nearly two hours with a cast of just three people is amazing. But the stunning visuals help, as does Mona, who conveys real personality with her animated expressions, accompanied by those yelps and squeals.

You wouldn't think there would be much dialogue with such a meager cast. But there is, as Draper talks into a tape recorder about his adventure, for posterity, and as he converses with Mona who in her own way returns the banter. That Draper's haunting world is lifeless may be slightly deceptive. And only his continued exploration of his surroundings can reveal a definitive answer, as the plot proceeds.

Yes, the film's science and technology are dated, but who cares, except purists? What I found a tad amusing was that Draper's equipment batteries could last so long. But then creative liberties are to be expected when the science is fictional or semi-fictional. This is a story of grand human adventure reminiscent of "Journey To The Center Of The Earth" (1959). As such, it inspires us, and propels the imagination. When a sci-fi movie can do that, it succeeds.

With its evocative landscapes engineered by terrific cinematography and artwork, with its simple story of survival, and with a persuasive performance by Paul Mantee (and Mona of course), "Robinson Crusoe On Mars" is a striking film, one that ranks among my all time favorite sci-fi films.

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