Crimson Force (2005)

Let’s see…

Astronauts go to Mars and find a big pyramid.  Inside it, they find a dying but powerful civilization divided into separate orders of priests and warriors, which may invade the Earth unless they can defeat the bad guys and make peace.

And it wasn’t written in the Thirties.

It isn’t by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

John Carter is nowhere in sight.

There’s even a beautiful Martian Warrior Princess.

And it was actually a Sci Fi Network TV movie which came out in the Nothings.


It’s hard to wrap your head around the idea.

But I have a confession to make: I love those city old pulpy stories, so I knew I’d have to hunt this one down as soon as I heard of it.

Now, as it was made in 2005, not 1936, it features a surprisingly detailed, mostly realistic spaceship which looks like gull winged super shuttle complete with worn heat resistant tiles.  As is often the case with movie spacecraft, it is rather large inside and much fancier than the real thing.

Nor should it come as much of a surprise ,the pyramid is the purported one in Cydonia, not far from the Giant Face and the supposed City structure all those UFO fanatics loved to point out.

More of a surprise is that Richard Hoagland and his “hyperdimensional physics” also make an appearance, although he is never mentioned by name.  Many of you will recall that he was a frequent guest on Art Bell’s Coast to Coast AM radio show, where he would make claims like his hyperdimensional physics explained why the constellation Orion was on the Apollo shoulder patches, without ever explaining what hyperdimensional physics actually were.  He was also one of the biggest promoters of the whole Mars conspiracy theory — Ancient lost civilization, secret Earth military bases, the head on Mars and all.

I guess it was inevitable he’d show up in a B-Movie sooner or later.

One also notes, as in an old Flash Gordon serial, or a Seventies episode of Doctor Who, there are only a handful of extras at what is supposedly the most important gathering of the entire Martian year (and remember, that’s two of our years!), what we might call “free energy day” (yeah, I know it has a real name but I can’t remember it right now).  In fact, not only this big event but most of the events in the film take place in suspiciously small places.

But then that is standard for TV movies.

There’s not a lot more to the film than my canned synopsis above — there’s sabotage, treachery, death rays, halberd fights and some CGI-generated backgrounds for all this to take place against.  There’s even a moment borrowed from Total Recall, although it is just as physically absurd here as it was there.

But at least it gives them the chance to do some icky gore effects.

It’s not brilliant or Earth-shattering — after all, it is a Sci Fi Original movie.  But it has a wonderfully pulpy flavor to it, redolent of some of my favorite vintage Science Fiction, like the original Flash Gordon serials, the Mars stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs and even the classic Tom Baker Doctor Who episode, “Pyramids of Mars.”  It’s not trying to be artistic or classic or even to lecture us.

All it really wants to do is to entertain us.

But that’s all that’s really asked of it.

So try not to take it seriously — not even for a moment.

And try to remember not to go outside without your suit.

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