Robinson Crusoe on Mars: Criterion Collection

January 28, 2012 5 Min Read

Review by: Fusion3600

Plot: What’s it about?

A command ship has been struck by a powerful meteor, forcing the crew inside to abandon the main ship, taking refuge in escape capsules. Kit Draper (Paul Mantee) and Dan McReady (Adam West) manage to escape the explosion, in pods headed to the surface of Mars. Draper’s capsule lands safely, so he and the ship’s monkey Mona survive the incident, but McReady isn’t as fortunate, as he perishes. Alone on the surface of this unknown planet, Draper has to take action to fulfill his basic needs, or else he faces certain death. He searches for sources of water and oxygen, then tries to construct a basic shelter, but even these elements won’t ensure his continued survival. He is able to create a somewhat stable existence, but then he discovers alien ships landing and unloading human-like slaves. Draper manages to free one of the slaves and names him Friday, but with a communication barrier added to the existing hardships, can the two forge any kind of relationship?

This is huge news for sci-fi fans, as Criterion’s laserdisc of Robinson Crusoe on Mars has been a rare, expensive proposition. This is a good movie and I am thrilled to have it in such a proper release. This is not a B movie, not a goofy sci-fi movie, instead it is a serious, well made genre picture. The movie didn’t have a huge budget, but the production values are more than solid, from the remarkable visuals to believable equipment creations. As is expected, there are some leaps in logic, but they’re required and serve to further the basic needs of the storyline. In spite of those logic gaps, the film takes a more realistic approach, with more evasion than action. The pace is slow, but well done, so if you need a lot of action, this isn’t the movie for you. I think this is an intelligent, well crafted take on a classic, an enjoyable sci-fi adventure. Criterion’s disc is impressive, so if you’re a fan of smart sci-fi, don’t miss Robinson Crusoe on Mars.

Video: How does it look?

Robinson Crusoe on Mars is presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen. I own the Criterion laserdisc, but I don’t need it now, as this new transfer is excellent. This is so much clearer and sharper, the detail pops off the screen at times. Now this won’t compare to more recent, more refined transfers, but for the material, this is impressive work. The added detail does reveal some of the matte paintings, but the trade-off is well worth that exposure. The print looks great too, restored to lessen debris and marks, so this is a clean, clear presentation. Another fantastic transfer from Criterion, as usual.

Audio: How does it sound?

This film is more talk than walk, so the mono soundtrack isn’t asked to do much. Since this is mono, you won’t find much power anywhere, but it takes of this movie. This film is dialogue driven so the audio punch isn’t needed in truth and this mix supplies clean and distinct vocals. It might be in a language I don’t speak, but I know clarity when I hear it. Any music and effects remain in the background, where they belong in this mix.

Supplements: What are the extras?

The audio commentary is a mixture of archival interviews and scene specific comments, with a host of cast and crew members, about half a dozen or so. The session is well constructed and thanks to the editing, remains informative and has minimal silence, which is always welcome. The wide assortment of people involved guarantees a number of perspectives, so you’ll get a lot of inside information on the production. This disc also includes a brief featurette on Mars, a music video, still photos & promotional materials, and the film’s theatrical trailer.

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