Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)
"Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (opens in new tab)" is based on the Japanese anime series "Cowboy Bebop," and features many of the same cast and crew members.
The heroes of the film are sanctioned bounty hunters who roam the solar system on the spaceship Bebop. Unfortunately, a colony on Mars meets catastrophe after a truck on Mars is deliberately exploded in a large city, spreading an assumed pathogen (killing or sickening hundreds of people.)
The Bebop crew gets involved when a bounty is put on the terrorist. From there, it's a rollicking adventure as the Bebops chase down the culprit and tries to distribute a vaccine for those dying on Mars.
John Carpenter's Ghosts of Mars (2001)
"Ghosts of Mars (opens in new tab)" is a horror film that follows the evolution of society on Mars in the 22nd century, when much of the planet has been terraformed and colonized.
While things appear to be going well (the colonists don't even need spacesuits anymore), a group of miners goes missing after they accidentally disturb the spirits of an old Martian civilization. You can guess where the plot goes from there (death, destruction, horrifying mutilation). But hey, a least it's a chance to watch teams in a remote environment blow up a nuclear reactor to try to contain the spirits.
Like many video game franchises turned to screen, "Doom (opens in new tab)" didn't do very well at the box office. However, the story is still entertaining to watch if you enjoy first-person shooters.
In the film, marines head to Mars to check out the status of a research facility, after people there stop communicating back with Earth. They discover genetically engineered beings roaming the facility and causing havoc, forcing the Marines to battle their way through. What's really fun is how they get to Mars: not by a spaceship, but through a portal in the Nevada desert.
Christmas on Mars (2008)
In an entertaining departure from the usual Mars movies, "Christmas on Mars (opens in new tab)" was created by the alternative rock band The Flaming Lips (and all of the band members appear in the cast, too.)
The film has a bit of an odd plot, which explores what happens during the first Christmas on Mars (an extra-special event since the first baby was also born on the Red Planet.) The film was never aimed for a big-screen audience, instead it enjoyed a limited theater release as well as a direct release to DVD.
Mars Needs Moms (2011)
Here's yet another Mars movie based on a book (by Berkeley Breathed), but what's refreshing about "Mars Needs Moms (opens in new tab)" is that it's aimed at children and fully animated.
In the film, protagonist Milo (Seth Green) is nine years old and is so fed up with his mother that when she asks him to do chores, he suggests life would be better without her. Milo quickly regrets his words when his mother is abducted; his rescue attempt doesn't go so well as he also gets shoved on to the same spaceship.
In true Disney fashion, what follows is a cute series of adventures as Milo tries to rescue his mother before she undergoes a procedure that will kill her; he meets up with some of the local inhabitants and formulates a daring plan. This movie didn't do well at the box office, though.
John Carter (2012)
"John Carter (opens in new tab)" ended up being a disappointing remake of the Edgar Rice Burroughs stories of Mars in the early 1900s, but it's still worth a watch for the comedy and for the amazing special effects.
John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) accidentally gets transported to Mars after he runs into a Thern (a fictional being from Mars) inside of an Earth cave. There, he discovers the inhabitants waging war as they try to survive on a dying planet. As Carter spends time getting to know the Martians, he comes to realize life on Mars may actually be more attractive than the life he left behind on Earth.
The Last Days on Mars (2013)
Mars really does attract horror films, doesn't it? "The Last Days on Mars (opens in new tab)" is yet another stab at the genre.
In the film, Vincent Campbell (Liev Schreiber) and his crew have almost finished a six-month mission on Mars when a crew member finds signs of possible life on the surface and decide to take one last spacewalk. Pro tip? Never take that last spacewalk.
From there, it's one big battle with mutant Martian bacteria that enjoy using humans as nasty host creatures. Campbell and crew try to escape, but it's a struggle to stay ahead of the infection; near the end, Campbell tells NASA they will have to make some tough choices in deciding whether to rescue them.
The Martian (2015)
"The Martian (opens in new tab)" is just amazing. This movie, which is part satire of NASA procedures, part inspirational in the way it shows astronauts and Mission Control solving a big problem, garnered lots of critical acclaim when it was released in 2015.
In the film, Mark Watney (Matt Damon) is accidentally stranded on Mars when his crew leaves without him, leaving him alone on a planet with no easy way to get home.
He records his efforts to make contact in sardonic video diaries, as NASA races against time to get a rescue ship to him before he runs out of food – mostly, potatoes that Watney grew himself. Watney also takes a page from "Red Planet" and retrieves the Mars Pathfinder rover, although we'll let you watch the movie to see the true awesomeness of his rover hacking.
The Space Between Us (2017)
Oh, teenage love; it's rough enough when you live in different cities, but what about different planets?
In "The Space Between Us (opens in new tab)," Gardner Elliot (Asa Butterfield) is a boy who was born on Mars; his existence was kept a secret because the company in charge of the first Mars landing (Genesis) doesn't want a public relations problem. When Gardner is a teenager, he meets Colorado-based Tulsa (Britt Robertson) in an Internet chat room.
He's so enamored that he decides to come to Earth, despite the immense medical risks. The star-crossed lovers do a road trip, which doesn't go so well as a deadly medical condition begins to catch up to Gardner. The film still has a somewhat happy ending, but the plot didn't go over well with critics or with audiences and the movie performed poorly at the box office.