Well, say what you want about “Flight to Mars” (reaching its 70th anniversary this year) but damn it, they make good on their promise in the title. There is definitely a flight to mars. It’s just a long, drawn out, monotonous, tedious flight to mars involving four boring male characters and one woman whose duties involve getting aggressively hit on by the spaceship’s captain, taking notes, and making the men coffee.
Five space explorers from Earth land on Mars and are greeted by a team of friendly inhabitants. In time, the Earthlings learn that the martians covet their ship. Fearing they have depleted the key mineral used to power their life-support systems, the Martians are determined to get off their dying planet by any means necessary. Not only do the Martians intend to leave the stranded crew behind to die, but they also plan to invade and conquer Earth. The discovery of this sinister alien agenda kicks off a race to get off the red planet before the visitors meet their dooms.
“Flight to Mars” is a tedious science fiction adventure; despite running at a crisp seventy minutes, the script feels like it was an initial ten pages stretched in to a feature length. That’s a real shame, as “Flight to Mars” introduces so many concepts and plot elements that could have been used to produce one damn good, thought provoking space adventure. Instead most of the run time is relegated to the crew announcing going to mars, flying through space for twenty minutes talking about random occurrences while flying, and eventually landing on Mars.
The meeting is genuinely anti-climactic as they’re greeted with other humanoids draped in painted scuba suits that invite them in to their civilization. From there it’s more monotony with the crew falling in love with some martian women, and engaging in experiments. A lot of the subterfuge about the martians overthrowing the humans, going to Earth and invading it is wholly ignored. There’s also the idea of bringing a Martian woman to Earth—can she even survive our atmosphere? There’s also a lot of talk about Mars dying, but there’s never a lot of empathy toward them by the humans. Why not work with the humans or make a treaty with Earth to help restore Mars?
It all comes off as pointless drama and obstacles to get us to the climax, rather than really digging its heels in to the interesting plot threads left dangling. “Flight to Mars” is suggested more for the sci-fi completists, and hardcore genre enthusiasts, but as a singular film experience, it’s a chore.
The new release from MVD Entertainment Group and Film Detective features a new 4K restoration sourced from the original Cinecolor separation negatives. Special features include audio commentary by author/film historian Justin Humphreys; there’s “Walter Mirisch: From Bomba to Body Snatchers,” a new documentary short from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; “Interstellar Travelogues: Cinema’s First Space Race” is a new documentary short with celebrated science fiction artist/historian Vincent Di Fate from Ballyhoo Motion Pictures; finally, there’s a full color insert booklet with an essay by Don Stradley.