At first glance, you might mistake Mars for A Scanner Darkly: both use a very similar style of computer generated rotoscoped animation, although Mars has a simpler, less realistic approach, perhaps close to some of the segments of Richard Linklater’s earlier attempt at rotoscoped animation, Waking Life.
But, instead of a paranoid Phillip K. Dick exercise in fragmented realities, Mars is a far gentler (and funnier) film; a deadpan, oddball comedy featuring love, romance and spaceflight.
It would be easy to dismiss it as little more than a RomCom with SF trappings, but there is more to it than that. It presents us with a far too familiar near future, where we are no longer much good at anything and the space program is more concerned with ratings than with actually learning anything new. Its hero might be said to be the poster child of this new future – a celebrity astronaut who has no other onboard role than sending out PR messages (although he does manage to redeem himself in the end). And then there are two robot space probes that are in love with each other, a new life form on mars (which actually developed from germs left by a Russian technician with an appalling cold!) and Kinky Freidman as the President.
We can always use another quirky, offbeat comedy, particularly one as intelligent and quietly entertaining as Mars.
Just don’t expect a lot of explosions, okay?